A Bounty Of Bud And Prairie Pride

CANNABIS CULTURE – Saskatchewan ranks dead last when it comes to cannabis consumption, but a three day marijuana judging contest – the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup – demonstrates Stats Canada’s methodology is bunk science.

A quiet Prairie Pride prevents people from telling random strangers – from the federal government no less – about their personal life. Yet behind the closed doors of downtown Saskatoon’s Odeon Theatre, members of the local cannabis culture are vaping on Prairie Grower Pride and organizer Jeff Lundstrom’s dedication and influences.

This is the third time he and two assistants known as The Sarahs have organized a cannabis contest in Canada’s least stoniest place for pot. Or is it? Lundstrom asks me, “After what you witnessed this weekend, Matt do you believe that stat?”

I’ve never believed Stats Canada’s provincial toker report, but Lundstrom feels insulted by it. He passionately told me on our drive to the venue that cannabis culture exists here and the Saskatchewan sun produces some of Canada’s best bud.

True, approximately twenty strains in Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook were prairie grown, but I’ve never been here. Pearson airport security really enjoyed thumbing through my copy during a secondary bag search, yelling, “Marijuana can look like this!” Yes, especially the cannabis in Saskatoon, which was introduced to me by Head 2 Head.

Even Saskatchewan’s stoniest looking guy, who picked me up at John Diefenbaker Airport, could be forgiven for hanging up the phone when Stats Canada calls to inquire about his weed consumption.

We watch as an RCMP drug dog ran around the baggage carousel with its handler. I’ve been to plenty of airports and brought cannabis through all domestic flights, but for some reason not today. My stoner senses were tingling before leaving and shockingly the dog didn’t twig to either of us.

“I didn’t bring any bud,” I reassured the Cannabis Kid.

“I have a joint for you in the car,” he responded. Then I got closer to bravely snap an Instagram of an RCMP drug dog sniffing out trouble.

We traveled to the future home of Vape Escape. I was given a dabtastic welcome that resulted in goodbye jet lag, hello afternoon nap. Putting me down was a concoction from The Smoking Chef, who handed me a mason jar of blue Kool Aid made from cannabis sugar.

Lundstrom was anxious – not all the strains had arrived – but we dabbed Blueberry hard to lessen it. “The guy’s got grow chores. What can you do? He’s never let me down though,” he stressfully said. Lundstrom was actually fretting about having to staying up all night to fill 1500 little cups labeled “Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup” with the last-minute marijuana entries.

However, the little touches made the event top-tier.

Traditionally cannabis judges are given their samples in dimebags, which is probably the worst method of distributing cannabis. Dimebags crush precious ganja goodness. Buds get squished and their appearance (something we’re judging) is ruined. So the little plastic cups did the trick.

I’ve never understood how you can gather up the country’s leading cannabis enthusiasts and then serve them weed in dimebags. It’s akin to a chef setting up an epic meal then serving their dishes in styrofoam.

Another stellar touch was their judge’s ballot. Providing people who hadn’t reviewed cannabis before ideas on what to look for. The ballot warmed my marijuana review critic soul and attendees heeded our call to review seriously.

“I really want people to judge cannabis. We even gave them pencils,” Lundstrom explained beforehand. Serious time was spent designing and then re-designing their ballot when one more entry arrived at the very last minute. My role as co-host was to act as a weed whip by encouraging everyone to review cannabis like wine enthusiasts do.

After Friday’s kick-off 4:20 session we immediately went over the ballot. At other competitions voting becomes almost secondary, but Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup attendees had a reason to keep their voting sheet at the ready. Our efforts resulted in a sixty percent return rate, which was probably the best turnout for any Canadian toker competition and rivals federal election turnouts.

Originally twenty minutes was planned, but organizers required an hour to count. A security guard stood over the door to ensure no one could enter. Lundstrom and The Sarahs even knew how many ballots were distributed to avoid the box getting stuffed. It’s a seedy industry and anything is possible.

In Saskatoon the prize is peer recognition and beautiful glass goblets, but in Amsterdam and elsewhere competitors are fighting for marijuana seed money. A High Times Cannabis Cup is worth a million in seed sales, but lacks vote scrutineering.

At bigger competitions growers are known to toss judges extra dimebags, which is akin to a candidate getting voters drunk on election day. A big difference here is a quiet competitive streak amongst growers. On Sunday morning I learned my friend and Pot TV personality Opus, who I shared a hotel room with, had entered his Blueberry Jam and Burmese. He had been telling people The Cup was his retirement from growing, but not that he entered!

The quiet competing all weekend became a nervous energy as Lundstrom and The Sarahs slowly counted. People anticipated an announcement by 4:20, but had to wait 40 minutes more. Lundstrom gave me a prideful, teary bearhug from the overwhelming results, “They did it, Matt!” he said, and told me later people even made extensive notes, writing all over the page.

It’s not the biggest competition, but Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup is steadily planting cannabis culture. Last year there weren’t enough cannabis entries to have sativa, indica and a hybrid category. This year there were more than enough entries for the proper divisions and next year they intend to add an extracts competition. A dab bar was added to go with the volcano vaporizing. Joints were smoked outside in covered tent.

The first year people picked up their judges kit and left the venue never to return, fearful of a police sting. Now they stick around, mingle, and spend hours sampling, which turned the Odeon Theatre into a fantastic bring-your-own cannabis vapor lounge.

Saskatoon will rise Stats Canada’s ranks because people will become open about their prairie pot pride. One day people will openly giggle at the Potash company sign like I did. When the feds call to inquire about their cannabis consumption, Saskatoon residents will respond, “I am always creating the pot ash.”

Check out the entire photo gallery of the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup 2013 by Cannabis Culture editor Jeremiah Vandermeer:

Matt Mernagh is author of Green Candy Press’s Marijuana Smoker’s Guidebook: The Easy Way to Identify and Enjoy Marijuana Strains and host of Pot TV’s The Mernahuana Zone.