A Cup a day will do ‘ya!

For me, this year’s trip to Amsterdam for the High Times Cannabis Cup could be summed up in just two words: bubble hash. The act of separating resin glands from leaf matter using ice water has had a tremendous impact on the cannabis culture. The Dutch have the advantage of many well known hybrids and lots of Sativas, and the resulting product is stunning. The Katsu coffeeshop gave me a piece you could see through, and the Dampkring’s Moonshine Haze had to be kept on ice, which of course I didn’t have? but it spread on a rolling paper like oil!
Another new dimension was the number of times a bowl was passed offered with the name of the person who made the hash. This one is from Mila, or Breeder Steve, or Barge, or the Bubble Man himself. Some had been made by this guy on his own farm in Morocco, while another only had hash that had been cured for seven years. When touched with a flame each bowl bubbled and exploded into a symphony of flavors and euphoric stones. It was going to be tough remembering why I was there.

Two words: bubble hash!Two words: bubble hash!Tired & uninspired

Having attended the High Times Cannabis Cup for the past four years, I find that the format has become tired and uninspired. I paid 540 guilders ($220 US) for a judge’s pass, which gave me little more than the opportunity to get in where others would try and sell me stuff. No free pot though, not even a joint from High Times!

I have always found the whole affair to be a strange dichotomy anyway, as it is an American event having to be held in the land where early Americans originally left to go find freedom. Strange that they would choose then not to even celebrate it when they go back. There couldn’t have been more than 2,000 judges signed up ? Marc Emery, our beloved publisher, personally hands out that many joints at all of our parties.

Fine pressed hashFine pressed hashThe judge’s pass also allows you entry into the two venues, the first of which is called the Pax House, with two floors for exhibitors and a third for forums. Thank God at least for the exhibitors hawking their wares ? most of them offered tokes, even after having paid many thousands of dollars themselves to be there. That is, if you could get to their booth ? Pax has to be Dutch for “crush ’em in like herring, and don’t give them any place to check their big winter coats.” It was hot and stupid.

This continued on into the evenings to The Melkweg, a big theater with two stages and a couple of lounges and bars. Not nearly big enough though ? it was shoulder to shoulder in there too. The event draws mostly guys, so ? wouldn’t you know it ? the entertainment was all dance music! Try as I might, the novelty of any one of these scenarios wears off pretty quickly.

Bluebird`s Sensi StarBluebird`s Sensi StarDoing the Cup

In the spirit of the week I decided I had to “do the Cup.” To do so meant visiting all of the 22 entered coffeeshops, purchasing the weed and hash they had, sampling it all and declaring a winner. Who better to accompany me then my pal and CC photographer Barge, with whom I’ve judged thousands of joints on three different continents? No one, that’s who.

For most, the Cup takes place over five days, but with all of the great bubble hash around, there was no way we were going to have time for that. If this was going to happen at all, it was going to have to be done in one day. Bicycles would be our transportation ? Barge knows the city like the back of his hand and I had an expense account.

Buds from Flying DutchmanBuds from Flying DutchmanOur odyssey would begin at Barney’s Breakfast Bar, not only because they always had an interesting assortment of hash and grass, but because breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. Ultimately, their weed entry of Sweet Tooth, a Hawaiian x Afghani, won the Cannabis Cup. Along with an uplifting Mekong Haze we were off to? oh yeah, 21 more coffeeshops!

It took us seven hours. We purchased 22 different kinds of pot and a dozen or so chunks of hash. Not every coffeeshop had entered in the hash side of things and our criteria had become pretty rigid. This cost several hundred guilders I might add, but worth it on oh so many levels. It really does get you out in the city and visiting coffeeshops you might otherwise never even hear of.

Soma with his NYC DieselSoma with his NYC DieselWe were treated very nicely in all of them, but the Abraxas had to be the most spectacular. Three floors, decorated throughout in carved and inlayed wood, with a grow room at the top! Shops new to me like El Guapo, Paradox, Softland and Brandend Zand were all very accommodating, with big buds of Haze, Purple Haze and White Smurf as gifts. Many of the long time shops were on the list, such as The Grey Area, De Dampkring, BushDoctor, De Kuil, Blue Velvet, Homegrown Fantasy, De Rokerij, Dutch Flowers, Bluebird, Dread Rock, Rusland, Siberie, Dolphins, Noon, Katsu, and The Greenhouse.

Everybody was into it and had great smoke to offer ? all of which was now piled on the table in my hotel room, another added bonus as one usually never has the entire lineup on hand to compare at once. I now had only a day and a half left to smoke it all. Oh well, I can always sleep on the plane.

After a thorough sampling, we declared ourselves the winners and it was all crushed up in the grinder. We now had the “Cannabis Cup in a can” to finish out the trip, smoking joints comprised of all the entries.

Sweet Tooth, a Hawaiian x AfghaniSweet Tooth, a Hawaiian x AfghaniThanks & congratulations

Thanks to all the shops that entered, and congratulations to Barney’s for Sweet Tooth and the Katsu for Crystal Clear, which won for best hash. We of course had our favorites along with those. The Moonshine Haze hash and an organic Hawaiian Haze both from the Dampkring kept me going all week. Congratulations as well to our good friends at the Amsterdam Seed Co who won the silver medal with their entry of Shiskaberry from Spice of Life Seeds. Thanks too to the rest of the Canadian/Swiss contingent who provided us with hilarious behind the scenes escapades so nefarious that even changing the names would not be enough to protect anybody in that one.

Warlock from Magnus GeneticsWarlock from Magnus GeneticsThe awards presentation and closing ceremonies continued on with High Times‘ half-baked effort. I’m really starting to wonder if those folks can handle the big smoke fest. Their “celebrity guests” were ghosts all week ? no schmoozing or smoking fat joints with the faithful. I can’t imagine what else they may have had to do ? it’s like being invited to someone’s house and the host doesn’t show up, leaving the guests to make our own fun.

If you go next year, give Barge and I a call. We’ll be there trying to break our record. With us you can get it all over with in a matter of hours, leaving the rest of the days to? I don’t know? there’s 2000 coffeeshops in Holland. I wonder how long that would take?

Peace and Pot!Warlock from Magnus Genetics