Cannabis Culture wins a Cannabis Cup!

And the winner is... Barge!And the winner is… Barge!I love coming to Amsterdam. I feel such freedom riding my rental bike around from one coffeeshop to the next while smoking as much cannabis as I want, in a comfortable atmosphere with people from around the world.
The annual High Times Cannabis Cup held in Amsterdam tries to be a celebration of pot people and the resin that bonds us together. The 13th HT Cup in November 2000 was my fifth. At my first, I had been eager to smoke all the varieties I’d read and heard so much about, but was disappointed at the unavailability of many strains and a lack of quality growing. Now I go for the atmosphere, the photographs and the friends, although the general quality of the cannabis has improved over the last five years.

This year, my experience as a Cannabis Culture photographer was both a hindrance and a benefit at the Cup.

Chill reception

After being in Amsterdam for a few days, I headed to the Pax Party House to pick up my Press Pass and say “high” to old Cup friends, and to some of the many Vancouverites attending the Cup this year. I entered the Pax Party House, and after exploring the Expo booths and photographing mostly overfed, waxy-green pot plants displayed by the seed companies, I finally found the High Times Press Guy, Gabe and his buddy.

After friendly greetings, I inquired about a Press Pass. When Gabe asked who I was with and I responded Cannabis Culture Magazine, their smiles faded and I was promptly informed that senior High Times staff had informed him that Cannabis Culture was not to be helped or cooperated with in any way. This meant no press kit, schedule of events or any event passes.

Apparently they are rather upset about some articles CC has published about High Times and previous Cups. Gabe suggested that I should stop photographing for CC and work for other magazines in order to maintain my integrity. After this humorous conversation, we parted ways.

Since I was already in the Pax Party House, I stayed for the rest to the day, photographing the various seed company plants on display. Not having a Press Pass would definitely make covering the event harder. Oh well, I’d just have to Barge it…

The Dampkring/Tweede Kamer 2000 Connoisseur CupThe Dampkring/Tweede Kamer 2000 Connoisseur CupThe winner is…

Two of Amsterdam’s better coffee shops, The Dampkring and the Tweede Kamer, threw a big smoking party called The Smoker’s Ball, in order to celebrate marijuana and thank all their customers for their support. Former Cannabis Cup organizer Annie Reiken now organizes the “Ball”, which is separate from the HT Cup. An Ice-O-Lator hash making demonstration, a smoking clinic with Soma from Seeds of Courage, the Trichome Challenge, the Cannabis Goddess’ DJs and the Cannabis Connoisseur Test made for three floors of solid pot entertainment.

The Cannabis Connoisseur Test had 25 multiple choice questions on genetics, growing, entertainment, hash making and other general pot knowledge categories. The highest score would win The Dampkring’s actual 1996 Cannabis Cup and a prize package. The lowest would receive copies of Marijuana Botany and Hashish by Robert Connell Clarke. These two books are a must read for anyone serious about Cannabis, who want to know what they are smoking. Also, anyone who scored over 65% received a Cannabis Connoisseur Certificate.

The test was done in a room with the tests themselves chained to tables lined with chairs. I was handed an sheet to write answers and directed to an empty seat. The prize winners would be announced later that night, the answers posted and the results would be available at The Dampkring the next day. I sat down at the table in Soma’s clinic and asked him for some “haze inspiration” before I did the test. He passed me a bud of the Haze variety and a bowl of bubbling Ice-O-Lator hash? yum! I then waited for someone to finish a test.

Once seated, I quickly went through the questions until the middle of the test when it asked, “Who’s not here?”. At this point there were a few who responded aloud with, “What the.. what do you mean Who’s not here? What??” in a rather confused manner. I skipped this question and continued. After a few more questions I burst out laughing. I’d just realized “Who’s not here”* and after completing the Connoisseur Test, I felt confident that I had answered all of the questions right. I thought I’d celebrate by trying the Trichome Challenge again, however I didn’t do very well this time and coughed a lot, but I was even higher ? in great condition.

Later that night, when Hans from The Dampkring and Annie Reiken were giving out door prizes (and other prizes for various goofy acts), they hinted that a Canadian had received the highest score. I was already at the stage taking pictures of the winners and the lovely Cannabis Goddesses, when they announced that “…Barge from Cannabis Culture is the winner of The Dampkring/Tweede Kamer 2000 Connoisseur Cup!” I had won Dampkring’s 1996 Cup, a T-shirt, some stickers, papers and various other goodies. My score was 92%, with only two wrong.

Now I’ve got one of the best photo props a cannabis photographer could have, and the irony of winning a High Times Cup for cannabis knowledge after being denied a Press Pass, was extra sweet.

Flush to avoid crap

All of the pot in Cannabis in the shops looks beautiful. It’s full of crystals, it’s dry, smells good and readily breaks apart with my fingers. However, once the joint is rolled and you fire it up and begin to smoke, often it won’t stay lit. When it does, the ash is dark grey or black. The smoke is harsh and your lips and tongue start to tingle. Sometimes the joint stops burning altogether, halfway through. The problem lies in how the marijuana is grown.

The moist Dutch climate, or the speed of the dying process is what shop owners and managers would have you believe is the cause of this condition, but that is not true. The problem is the overuse of chemical fertilizers and the resulting salt build-up.

Chemical fertilizers, such as General Hydroponics, ABC Solution, Green Gro, etc, consist of food coloring and mined minerals which have various salts in them. Cannabis absorbs the useful nutrients and leaves the salts behind, thus the salts remain in the plant tissue of our beloved buds. Salt doesn’t burn very well, nor does pot with fertilizer left in it. The solution is for smokers to demand clean, flushed and preferably organic bud. Growers should ensure they give their plants only pure water for the last two weeks of flowering; no nutrients. The plants will still receive some nutrients, as there is always a build-up of nutrients in the medium already, and in the plant itself. Giving the plant water alone rinses away the excess salt build up and allows the plant to metabolize the nutrients remaining in the bud.

Marijuana that has been well flushed will burn evenly, and produce a white or light gray ash. One can then taste the unique flavours of the individual strains, instead of the fertilizers. The smoke will be smoother, tastier and produce a cleaner high. Marijuana with a high THC level that has too much fertilizer is schwag; if I can’t access the THC, what good is it?

Some growers worry that flushing might lower their yield. Possibly, but is that little extra bud worth having if the entire crop is unsmokable? Flush your plants for two weeks with pure water, please!The Dampkring/Tweede Kamer 2000 Connoisseur Cup

* Dave’s not here man.