The 24th annual High Times Cannabis Cup is now over. Thousands of red-eyed international tourists are heading home from Amsterdam, wondering why none of their local coffee shops can offer world-class marijuana and hashish like Holland’s do.
B.C. has typically been well-represented at the Cannabis Cup, ever since Lovebud, from Vancouverite Darren Morgan, took third place at the 8th Cup in 1995.
This year was no exception, with Vancouver Island-based seed company House of the Great Gardener taking second place in the hash category for their entry called Hydra. According to the breeders, Hydra is a cross between strains called Warlock (90%) and Haoma (10%).
There’s a variety of awards given out on the final evening of the Cannabis Cup, generally divided into two categories. One set of awards is for the cannabis available from participating Dutch coffeeshops, as ranked by the nearly 3,000 judges. The second set of awards are for seed companies and are judged by a panel of canna-celebrities.
Two coffeeshops usually dominate the awards: Barney’s and the Greenhouse, and this year was no exception. Barney’s won the cup for the best overall marijuana variety with a strain called Liberty Haze. Barney’s also won for best Dutch-produced hash, with Liberty Melt. Greenhouse won for best imported hash with a batch of Exodus Cream Cheese. They also won Best Product with Grinder Cards, essentially a business-card sized grater used to bust up buds for rolling a joint.
Strangely, Colorado seed breeders took home most of the seed company awards, winning best Indica (Kosher Kush), best Sativa (Moonshine Haze) and best hybrid bud (Holy Grail Kush). Colorado has seen a boom in cannabis production and quality since the state legalized medical marijuana dispensaries in a 2000 referendum, and these Cannabis Cup victories show how far their genetics and growing skills have come since then.
The Cannabis Cup includes an expo with exhibitors showing off hand-blown glass pipes, specially designed fertilizers, hash extraction systems, prize-winning seed strains, plus endless weed grinders, lighters, rolling papers and every other possible accessory the modern stoner could ever desire.
The Cup and expo go from Saturday to Thursday night. But on Wednesday, Dutch police took over the expo hall, taking two hours to search everyone in attendance and bringing in tax collection officials to question all the exhibitors. Everyone had all of their marijuana and hash confiscated by police, and Mila, known as the queen of Amsterdam’s hash scene, was arrested. Apparently she was in possession of too much leaf trim, which she had been planning on using for a hash-making demo. She was released later that day.
Despite this unprecedented police response, the expo continued on through Thursday as planned. Then the police returned on Thursday afternoon, and although they didn’t search anyone, they encouraged organizers and exhibitors to shut down a bit earlier than scheduled.
Part of the reason for the police intrusion may have been that the expo was in a different location than previous years, at a hall situated in the town of Borchland which seems to have a slightly less tolerant perspective than neighbouring Amsterdam.
The final awards ceremonies took place at the Melkweg club, which has been used for this purpose for many years. Yet Dutch police even came to the Melkweg, and told organizers that any smoking of cannabis or tobacco would have to be done outdoors, and not inside like usual.
These setbacks were ultimately minor ones, and as the pot culture is used to being harassed by cops, no-one was too worried or upset. If anything, the police involvement served as a stark reminder that even in the world’s most cannabis-tolerant jurisdiction, marijuana remains illegal, and those who use it are risking their liberty to continue their love affair with the world’s most wonderful plant.