Four years into High Times throwing the Cannabis Cup in Denver, and it finally feels like the event has hit its full, madhouse-crazy stride -- thanks in large part to a venue change from the cramped, maze-like confines of Exdo to the wide-open, somewhat-dingy-but-perfect-for-throwing-a-wild-party confines of the Denver Mart.
The scope of this year's Cup was light years beyond what has gone on in the past. The organizers have truly stepped it up and created a spectacle so huge that it was mind-boggling. The smell of weed smoke literally could be noticed from the interstate running near the venue. On top of that, the number of vendors seems to have tripled. They all started to blend together, there were so many. Which, honestly, is a good problem to have.
Even though the Cannabis Cup is in Denver, I would argue that Denverites and Coloradans aren't really their target market. Instead, I think the High Times crew is targeting people in the rest of the country, who don't get to see a pound of flowers on display every week -- like the group of juggalos from Texas walking around smoking blunts, some frat bros from Oklahoma, and all the Californians, who are really, really into this whole weed-culture thing.
Clearly, High Times had a huge success on their hands. When I drove up 58th on Sunday afternoon around 1 p.m., there were hundreds of people milling around outside of the venue. Parking was a nightmare, which was understandable when you got in and saw how completely packed the place was.
Inside the sprawling convention center, High Times had set up a theater room for seminars and, later, the award ceremony. During the talks from growers, breeders, hash makers and other cannabis personalities, about half of the audience paid attention while the other half tried to beat the Sunday heat in the cool(er) shade of the room -- several twisting up joints or doing dabs on small oil rigs. In the hall adjacent to the room, there were light vendors and glass booths set up. But for the most part, the space was dull compared to the adult-use area in the back parking lot.
High Times set up a massive grid of booths this year, and after a while everything started to blend together -- mostly because all of them were offering up dabs or hits of herb just like their neighbors.
That, of course, is the main draw of the Cannabis Cup for most people: free weed. Lines stretched down the aisles at some booths, where hits of shatter were being doled out. A few entrepreneurial California booths even started selling dabs for a few bucks a pop and clearing whole grams by "giving" them out with the purchase of price-inflated $60 T-shirts or $40 plastic containers. Not that anyone seemed to care. Even the Douglas County cops who walked by the booths openly selling the herb didn't seem to be bothered.
Is it fun? Yes. If you enjoy cannabis, of course.
Though that could depend on what your definition of fun is. If, for example, you like waiting around in lines in the heat to take a half-dab of wax that may or may not be well made from the same bong several hundred people already used, then it was awesome. So was seeing hundreds of glass pipes that cost more than the mortgage on my grandparents' first home. If you simply enjoy being around other people smoking marijuana just for the sake of being around people smoking marijuana, then this was Fun City for you. It's like tailgating for a concert without the actual concert, plus a lot more weed and scantily clad women wearing pot leaves on their boobs.
But if you think crowds of stoned tourists bumbling around in endless circles aren't that great and you've got your own herb at home to smoke, then it probably isn't going to offer much to you after the first hour or so. For most of us, the pleasure lies somewhere in the middle. One day is probably enough, but you should definitely get down there next year and see it for yourself at least once.
Or, finally, if you're like me and suffering from a pretty bad upper-respiratory infection, it's like being a severe diabetic in a candy shop. While I would love to be able to tell you which booth had the best shatter or herb, I didn't want to get myself even more sick by smoking out of a dirty bubbler after everyone else. And neither did I want to be a dick and get anyone else sick.
At the end of the day, the Cannabis Cup helped fuel the progression we've been seeing. All of those kids from Missouri, Texas, Oklahoma, New York, New Zealand, Australia and other corners of the world who were there over the weekend are going to go home and tell their friends -- and they're going to start realize it's bullshit that they can't just do the same kind of thing in their own home states or countries. Conversations will start about how stupid it is that you can get legally high as a giraffe's ass in Colorado on a substance that can earn you life in prison just a few hundred miles to the east.
Oh, and the Cup crew awarded some prizes for the top cannabis in Colorado as judged by locals and cannabis stars such as Cheech and Chong.
Continue to see the winners of the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup below, supplemented by more photos. HIGH CBD AWARD Flower -- Hillbilly Armor (4.73 %) from Elite Cannabis Enterprises Concentrate -- Ogre Kush Shatter (20.91 %) from Mile High Dispensary Edible -- High CBD Dark Chocolate Cherry Bar (930 mg per serving) from Medibrothers
BEST MEDICAL EDIBLE 1st Place -- Mystic CBD Capsules from Natural Mystic Cannabis Caregivers 2nd Place -- Bhang Cherries & Cream 180 mg Bar from Summit & Baked 3rd Place -- One Eye Open Sativa-Based Lemonade / Black Tea from MarQaha
BEST US EDIBLE 1st Place -- Liquid Gold Delights Orange Meltaway Truffles from G Farma Labs 2nd Place -- Cinnamon Roll Crunch from Kushie Kandy 3rd Place -- Reef Jerky from Badfish Extracts
BEST MEDICAL NON-SOLVENT HASH 1st Place -- Blueberry Waltz from Natural Mystic Cannabis Caregivers 2nd Place -- Sour Lemon OG Solventless from Essential Extracts & Trill Alternatives 3rd Place -- HGH Cookies Solventless from HGH Extractions & Pure Medical
BEST US NON-SOLVENT HASH 1st Place -- White OG Solventless Wax from Essential Extracts & Down With Dirt 2nd Place -- Boss Ice Wax from Infuzionz 3rd Place -- Bruce Banner #3 from RiverRock Adult Use & Trichome Heavy Extractions
Continue to see the winners of the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup below, supplemented by more photos. BEST MEDICAL CONCENTRATE 1st Place -- Sour Jilly from Green Dragon & TC Labs 2nd Place -- Jilly Bean from Stay Concentrated Extracts 3rd Place -- South African Durban Poison Wax from Advanced Medical Alternatives & Dab City Concentrates
BEST US CONCENTRATE 1st Place -- 303 OG Nug Run Sugar Budder from The Clinic 2nd Place -- Lemon Walker OG from TC Labs & Gold Coast Collective 3rd Place -- Willy Wonka Sativa BHO from High Class Concentrates
BEST MEDICAL HYBRID 1st Place -- Pure Power Plant from Good Meds Network 2nd Place -- Chem Crush from La Contes 3rd Place -- Golden Goat from the Green Solution
BEST US HYBRID 1st Place -- Cookies & Cream from Exotic Genetix 2nd Place -- Colorado Chem from Cannables 3rd Place -- Cinderella 99 x White from Natural Remedies
BEST MEDICAL SATIVA 1st Place -- Jilly Bean #1 from Standing Akimbo 2nd Place -- Durban Poison from Denver Relief 3rd Place -- Cherry Pie from The Clinic
Continue to see the winners of the 2014 High Times Cannabis Cup below, supplemented by more photos. BEST US SATIVA 1st Place -- Ghost Train Haze from Green Man Cannabis 2nd Place -- Super Silver Haze from Life is Good Healing 3rd Place -- Twista from The Green Solution
BEST MEDICAL INDICA 1st Place -- Larry OG from MMJ America 2nd Place -- Raskal OG from Colorado Alternative Medicine 3rd Place -- Denver Maple from Ballpark Holistic Dispensary
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BEST US INDICA 1st Place -- South Central LA from Colorado Alternative Medicine & Root Seller Seeds 2nd Place -- Grand Daddy Purple from Cannables 3rd Place -- MK Ultra from The Green Solution
PEOPLE'S CHOICE CUP - HASH 1st Place -- Golden Goat Shatter - Infuzionz powered by The Green Solution 2nd Place -- Jilly Bean Shatter from 710 Labs/ Bud Med Health Center 3rd Place -- K1 Shatter from New Age Medical
PEOPLE'S CHOICE CUP - FLOWERS 1st Place -- Presidential Kush from The Green Solution 2nd Place -- Death Star from New Age Medical 3rd Place -- Sour Diesel from Walking Raven Retail Marijuana Center
For more cannabis news-and-culture coverage, check out our Marijuana archive.