Photos, video: High Times Denver Medical Cannabis Cup recap

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Within a half hour of the 2012 High Times Denver Medical Cannabis Cup opening on Saturday, the line was already snaking down Walnut Street, around the corner, then halfway up 36th. Not surprisingly, the smell of ganja had wafted even further.

This is the second time in as many years that the venerable counterculture magazine has held its part-party, part-contest in Denver -- and once again, the venue was the Exdo Event Center.

As in 2011, vendors set up shop inside the convention hall, while speakers and demonstrations took place in what I guess is normally a dance hall complete with mirrored ceilings and numerous disco balls. It was the place to learn about politics or get yourself a new pipe, a weed-themed T-shirt and any number of discount coupons from the dispensaries representing themselves.

But the real convention was going on down the alley.

Walking out the back door of Exdo and down the alley, past the outdoor food court where at any moment there were lines for munchies, waves of marijuana smoke and booming bass poured from the open garage bay labeled the "Amendment 20 Compliant" area.

From the street outside, the building looked like a typical yellow-and-black warehouse. Inside, thousands of medical marijuana patients were lighting up, vaping and torching pounds of cannabis and concentrates.

Like last year, dispensaries had set up booths in the medicating area as well as in the non-medicating area. Gone, however, were the over-the-top booth displays. Instead, shops went for a more low key approach and simply set up tables with fliers and merch, as well as a few glass jars containing cup entries and other choice samples. While some shops kept their meds on display only and didn't offer up any sampling, others were handing out dabs of hash oil like candy to Halloween trick-or-treaters.

Oil actually turned out to be the big buzz (pardon the pun) at this year of the Cannabis Cup. Everywhere you turned in the patient lounge, there were blowtorches firing up oil rigs of every shape and size, not to mention every imaginable type of concentrate attachment, from quartz nails to elaborate noodle contraptions that I'm still trying to figure out even after using one.

Yeah, there wasn't really that much medical going on in the patient tent. It was more of a party celebrating all things cannabis. But, then again nobody was pretending this medicine wasn't enjoyable or something that we shouldn't share with one another. Smiling is good for you, after all.

And there were a lot of smiles. And a lot of red eyes.

Page down to continue reading William Breathes's Cannabis Cup recap, as well as to see a video and a list of winners. On Friday, I took part in a panel discussion about the possible dangers and benefits of solvent-extracted concentrates like BHO and ISO. I'm still not sure what I was doing up there, but experts like Dr. Bob Melamede and Dr. Alan Shackelford did a good job of breaking down the biochemistry of hash oil consumption, while hash makers (and Cannabis Cup Award Winners) Selecta Nikka T and Daniel de Sailles gave insights into hash making and purity. You can watch a video of the presentation here. But in summary: What matters most is that you start with clean material, as is the case with any cannabis. Pesticides, mold, poorly made butane and human stupidity are what's really dangerous.

The awards ceremony -- agonizingly slow last year -- was streamlined, and didn't include comedy performances or half-hour documentary viewings. Yes, there was an award ceremony honoring National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws founder Keith Stroup, but it was short and sweet. And while I could have done without the Miss High Times 2012 pageant between the products and the medicine awards, it's not like it was ahot-ass or best-orgasm contest, either.

Instead, a variety of presenters from the High Times editorial staff ran through the awards on time and had the crowd out within an hour. The Clinic, River Rock and Pink House came away as the biggest winners of the evening, all taking home at least three awards each. New edible company Dabba Chocolate Company took home the win for best edible for its mint chocolate bar. Reps mentioned that Dabba products aren't in many dispensaries yet, so keep your eyes out for them soon. And although I'm not sure how an oil was allowed to compete against flowers, it was cool to see the high CBD award given out and the recognition that cannabis does have some very amazing pain-reducing qualities.

Check out a video of the entries here and page down for a list of the winners.

2012 High TimesDenver Medical Cannabis Cup winners:

Best Glass 3. Dopeass Glass 2. Hitman Glass: Worm torch tube 1. Mad Hatter Glass: "Marble Madness"

Best Edibles 3. Standing Akimbo: Bubble Brownies 2. Dixie Elixirs: Chocolate Truffles 1. Dabba Chocolate Company: Mint Chocolate Chip (side note: Who are these guys? The owner said, "We'll see you in dispensaries real soon.")

Best Concentrates 3. River Rock North: Blueberry 2. The Clinic Highlands: Strawberry Cough Nectar 1. Top Shelf Extracts: 707 Headband Shatter Oil

Top Solventless extracts 1. Pink House Blooms: Lemon OG Solventless Wax

Highest CBD 3. Natural Mystic Co.: Tora Bora 2. Greenwerkz: R4 1. River Rock South: CBD Oil

Patient's Choice Award (voted on by patients who sampled both over the last two weeks) (tie) 1. Pink House Blooms: Super Silver Haze 1. The Clinic: Kosher Kush

Best Hybrid 3. The Clinic: Rascal OG 2. Fresh Baked Boulder: Jack Flash 1. The Green Man: Skunkberry

Best Sativa 3. Medicine Man Denver: Jack Herer 2. Natural Remedies: Red Headed Stranger 1. The Clinic: Stardog OG xGuava

Best Indica 3. River Rock: Cataract Kush 2. 420 Wellness Alameda: Kurple Fantasy 1. Pink House Blooms: SFV OG Kush

More from our Marijuana archive: "Photos: Smoky scenes from 4/20 marijuana smoke-out in Civic Center Park" and "4/20 in Civic Center Park: Our pot critic cuts through the smoke."

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