Ganja judging fever!

With the ever-increasing popularity of pot culture in Canada, it’s no surprise that 2002 will be a banner year for cannabis competitions across the country. Canada will be playing host to a trio of cannabis judging contests this year, as the nation’s three largest cities compete to throw the best pot party, and to see who has the best weed!
Quebec cannabis competition

Montreal’s Alain Berthiaume, founder of Hemp Quebec and the Quebec Seed Bank, will be hosting the fourth Quebec Cannabis & Hashish Cup in November 2002, despite being arrested at his November 2001 cup (CC#35, Canadian cannabis competitions). Alain is already preparing for this year’s event, likely to be held once again at the Worldbeat club in Montreal.

Judges at the 2001 Quebec Cup received eight samples of pot and two or three types of hash. For some judges, the kit was all they wanted, but most stayed for the endless rounds of dips, cakes, treats, comedy, music and conversation in the smokey two-floor hall.

With five categories of winners and 10 entries, the competition wasn’t too stiff. The winning strains were Quebec Gold for best outdoor organic, Double 07 for best indoor organic, and M-39 for best hydroponic. The best hash went to Bella Berry, and Pink-39 won for best water hash.

A dozen cops entered the hall late Saturday night, filling up the space, intimidating the remaining revelers, but making no searches or arrests. They left, then returned an hour later and arrested Berthiaume, keeping him in jail for two nights while the party continued the next day.

The five-hundred cuppers all seemed to have a great time and no complaints were heard, and a small contingent of partiers even made a protest march to the police station where Berthiaume was being held. Nevertheless, Berthiaume was still disappointed with how things turned out. “There were supposed to be booths, microscopes, films,” Berthiaume told Cannabis Culture. “Instead at one point I was on the roof with 10 pounds while police were downstairs looking for me.”

“When they came for the arrest they were not there for anyone but me,” Berthiaume continued. “They handcuffed me, searched me. They searched the area and there was nothing on me or there. While everyone else was enjoying the cake they gave me two baloney sandwiches with no butter, two cookies and a pint of juice. I can tell you the guy slicing the baloney made it real thin. Last year it was such a good time.”

Berthiaume was charged with three counts of trafficking, which he intends to fight in court. “The $200 each person paid for the party paid for the weed,” he explained. “I didn’t do it to make money.”

Berthiaume is defiantly planning more events, despite police pressure. “This May 4 we are going to have the biggest march ever. And for this year’s Cup, we’ll do it differently. We’ll set it up as a trade show. There will be a symposium on hemp. They can’t stop us. In two or three years I am sure there will be coffeeshops in Montreal!”

The Quebec Cup in all its glory.The Quebec Cup in all its glory.Toronto’s Calyx cruise

Toronto will also likely be seeing another Calyx Awards Festival in 2002, despite a police presence showing up at the end of their October 2001 event (CC#35, Canadian cannabis competitions). “We’ll keep the cruise-boat out in the harbour until the very end next time,” said Larry Duprey, vice-president of the Hemp Industries Association and stalwart organizer of the pot-judging cruise. “Then they can’t mess with us at all.”

With eight strains entered in the competition, plus plenty of extra samples being handed out on board, the Toronto cruise was a well-stocked affair. Judges got their kits a week before the event, giving them plenty of time to make an unbiased assessment. The different strains were identified only by the designs on the baggies, so that judges would not be influenced by knowing the strain or grower in advance.

Varieties grown from Dutch genetics were the popular winners and took all the top spots. With eight entries to choose from, the first place “Diamond Calyx Award” went to “Gman” for his Maple Leaf Indica entry, grown outdoors with stock straight from Sensi Seeds in Holland. The second place “Gold Calyx” went to “Dave” for his excellent California Orange with seeds from Dutch Passion. The “Silver Calyx” third place award went to “Kmeister” for a heavy Indica Afghani grown from Nirvana Seed stock.

Although “Doc Bush” of Doc Bush Seeds helped coordinate the event and entered some strains himself, he didn’t place in the competition. “I admit to having been apprehensive about winning,” he commented after the top picks were announced. “I am actually very grateful that others took all the awards.”

Duprey told Cannabis Culture that he proud of the way the judging was handled. “You can’t judge eight kinds of pot in one day. That’s why we made sure our judges had a week with their judges kit, so they would have ample time to sample and critique each variety.”

Alain Berthiaume: defiantly planning more events.Alain Berthiaume: defiantly planning more events.Vancouver’s Tokers Bowl

To be sure we aren’t left behind by our fellow pot-promoters in other Canadian cities, Cannabis Culture is hosting a “Tokers Bowl” in our hometown of Vancouver, to take place during May 4-6. Although we’ve thrown some pretty big private judging bashes (CC#28, Cannabis Culture Summer party hardy!), this will be our first try at putting on a public pot party.

With over 20 types of pot to judge and three nights of food and entertainment, the Cannabis Culture Tokers Bowl is a more ambitious event than the Toronto and Montreal competitions, although it will have a smaller attendance than the Quebec Cup. We’re only allowing 200 people to attend, in order to keep things manageable and ensure that everyone has a special time.

“We’re not asking anyone to donate their pot,” commented Marc Emery, Cannabis Culture publisher and Tokers Bowl co-ordinator. “We’re paying top dollar, and so we expect only the finest herb. The only criteria for pot being entered is that we consider it to be among the best, and that a half-pound be available for judging.”

“There’s an increasing number of pot competitions during the fall,” added Emery. “We thought we’d try something different and hold ours in the spring. It’s true that fall is the outdoor harvest season, but we’ll have tons of great pot grown with the miracle of indoor lighting.”

Will Vancouver cops leave the event alone, or will they try to crash the party as their compatriots did in Toronto and Montreal?

“I don’t anticipate any police problems,” said Emery hopefully. “Why would police come after us when they have so many more important things to do? Given the mild police effort in Montreal and Toronto, I can’t see them cracking down on us here.”

Winning buds from the Quebec Cup.Winning buds from the Quebec Cup.International smoke-off?

With three Canadian cannabis competitions, plus the High Times Cup in Amsterdam, the Nimbin Cup in Australia, and other events around the world, it will soon be time for a truly international smoke-off, where the winners of these contests could be brought together and judged impartially by a panel of the world’s finest cannabis connoisseurs.

Judging cannabis is a never-ending quest. The pleasure gained from smoking cannabis is influenced by the genetics of the plant, the skill and technique of the grower, as well as the circumstances under which it is consumed and the personality and preference of the toker. There will never be one absolute strain or one perfect technique, but rather a multitude of paths to reaching the same elusive peak.

Yet despite the focus on “judging” the different samples and strains, these events are more about celebration than competition. In the end we’re all winners, coming together to have fun, smoke phatties and promote freedom!

The Cannabis Culture crew hopes to see many of our readers in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal this year, as well as in Nimbin and Amsterdam! You bring some of your hometown bud ? we’ll bring the rollies!Winning buds from the Quebec Cup.

? Quebec Cannabis & Hashish Cup: www.hemp-quebec.com
? Canadian Calyx Awards: www.canadiancannabisawards.ca; www.docbushseeds.com
? Cannabis Culture Tokers Bowl: www.tokersbowl.com

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