Several days ago, while I was walking around Amsterdam realizing that terrorism and economic woes had made the usually bustling city into a ghost town, I began hearing rumors about this year’s High Times Cannabis Cup from people in the marijuana industry.
The rumors, some of which came from credible people who claimed to know insider info about this year’s Cup, were that as many as 500 stoners who had reserved spaces for the Cup had canceled their reservations due to the terrorism scare, that High Times was considering canceling or scaling back this year’s Cup, and that High Times was less involved in Cup planning than it had been in past years.
Cannabis Culture attempted to verify these rumors, but the principal Dutch representative-coordinator for the event, Peter Balk, was traveling in America when we contacted his Holland office, and other sources did not answer our queries. Thus, we ran an article that accurately reported what people were saying about the Cup, but did not provide statements from the Cup organizers themselves. Fortunately, we have now been able to speak with Peter Balk, and he has provided reassuring and exciting information about this year’s event.
Balk says that approximately 1200 passes for this year’s event have been sold, and that only 50 people have canceled their reservations. He says that high quality entertainers and activities are being booked and scheduled, including major hip-hop and reggae musicians, and that the two major venues for the Cup- the Melkweg and the Pax Party House, will again be hosting a full range of vendors, fun, parties, networking, and partying Cuppers.
According to Balk, this year’s Cup features 22 competing coffee shops and 14 seed companies; two of the seed companies are Canadian. Balk says he is especially pleased that two much-lauded shops, the Dampkring and the Bluebird, have decided to participate in this year’s Cup. The Dampkring in particular had been unhappy with policies and procedures at past Cups and had pulled out of the event. Balk says they are back in it, and this is good news for people who love marijuana- the Bluebird and the Dampkring offer stunning menus of potent, tasty cannabis and hashish.
Balk also says that he is reaching out to cannabis industrialists who have not previously been involved in the Cup. He intends to work with Dutch coffee shop headman Nol Van Schaik, who owns three superb marijuana shops, and a marijuana museum, in the sweet Dutch heritage town of Haarlem, which is located 20 minutes from Amsterdam.
Van Schaik confirms that he has been discussing working with Peter to run a Haarlem bus tour for Cupsters.
“We will be having a big harvest party on November 17th, where we will be offering hits off our 64-hose hookah pipe,” Van Schaik says. “There are 16 coffee shops in Haarlem, and we have museums, gourmet restaurants, a national park, friendly people, clean canals, a beach and great cannabis. We hope that anybody who travels to Holland for the Cup will visit us in Haarlem. We love to get you high, and Haarlem is a relaxing and fascinating alternative to Amsterdam.”
Van Schaik says that although tourist-dependent sectors of the Dutch marijuana industry might incur short-term losses, he is optimistic about the prospects for marijuana consumers and retailers in Holland and Europe in general. He continues to support efforts to keep open a Dutch-style coffee shop that he and a British colleague opened in England last month, and is planning to reconfigure his three Haarlem shops at the start of next year.
“We will have Willie Wortel’s Indica, Willie Wortel’s Sinsemilla and Willie Wortel’s Sativa as the names for our shops,” he said. “Each shop will focus on a specialty menu that highlights the best of each strain. I’m procuring rare varieties like pure Jamaican Lamb’s Bread and Durban Poison, Hazes, superb hashes made from sativa or indica plants, and other varieties. We want to educate consumers about the different taste and psychoactive effects you get from indica versus sativa, and we also want them to understand what are the best ways to get high for each individual person.”
Balk says that he is working to make the Cup a more inclusive event that unites the cannabis culture while also providing a great opportunity to get high in the most pot-friendly city in the world.
“The Cannabis Cup is a legendary event that has much meaning to many people,” he said. “I am proud to be working with High Times and the people in Holland and across Europe. No matter what terrorism or other problems are going on in the world, I want everybody to come over here and share the good plant with us this year. The Cannabis Cup is alive and well. Come on over and inhale something nice with us!”