The idea of a Cannabis Cup conjured up visions of lines of tables in a room with people furiously toking away on numerous joints in the effort to judge the most powerful stuff. That didn't happen. The High Times Medical Cannabis Cup held at Bert's Warehouse Theater in Eastern Market over the weekend was no tokefest. There seemed to be almost everything associated with growing, using and advocating marijuana there, but no actual marijuana was being used, at least not on the grounds of the event.
Detroit Police made sure of that when they came by early Saturday and shut down the medication tent that was set up behind the warehouse. Medicating was moved to the nearby Trans Love Compassion Center owned by Holice Wood and John Sinclair.
Police returned early on Sunday to shut down any booths selling drug paraphernalia. Apparently there is an ordinance on the city books that says you can't possess paraphernalia. They ended up writing a couple of tickets for businesses selling pipes and had the tables shut down. It seems odd that when you can buy the same kind of stuff practically every gas station in town they would bother to enforce that ordinance now. It seemed like they just wanted to harass the event and let folks know that anything does not go in Detroit. This led to a little bit of paranoia and disgruntled attitudes as "fuck the police" flew from several mouths.
Those were the biggest disruptions for an event that was well-organized and ran smoothly. The High Times staff obviously knows what they are doing. There was good security all around the place, seminars ran on time, the sound system was good, so you could hear what was being said during panel discussions. The High Times people told me that somewhere between 2,500 to 3,000 ticket-buying attendees were there, and that they planned to come back next year for another Cannabis Cup.
Although handing out awards for marijuana, edibles and topical preparations judged to be the best was an eagerly anticipated event, the actual ingesting and judging took place before the weekend at some other location and at a couple of analysis labs. The event itself was built around a series of seminars mostly focused on legal, entrepreneurial and activist issues, tables sponsored by various cannabis businesses touted their wares, there was a Saturday night party in a southwest side warehouse and the awards ceremony.
Sessions on the Legal Medicine in Michigan, Marijuana Law Reform Activism, Veterans and Medical Marijuana, Your Cannabusiness, Political Action and a couple of cultivation seminars filled out the schedule. The cultivation sessions, run by High Times cultivation editors Nico Escondido and senior cultivation editor Danny Danko, were by far the most popular, with standing-room-only crowds squeezed into the seminar area that sat about 200 people.
I spent most of my time there at the seminars. Chuck Ream, of MedMar compassion club in Ann Arbor, talked about the history of the drug war during the Law Reform seminar. He pointed out that none of its stated goals had been reached. He said that the real goal of the drug war is social control with eight times the amount of people in jail today than when the drug war was launched in 1972, and the most massive prison incarceration system in the world. He acknowledged that medical marijuana activists have lost a lot of legal battles in the past year, but he pointed to a pending Kalamazoo ordinance that would make marijuana crimes the lowest police priority. It could be a winner on the November ballot. "We need a victory," he said. Ream also said that the reason he is an activist is "pure patriotism" because the drug war is against every freedom enjoyed by Americans. "No one who is a real American believes in prohibition," he said.
The entire panel talked about strength in numbers and urged people to stand up and fight against marijuana repression. Brandy Zink, from Americans for Safe Access, in urging people to speak to their local representatives, said, "If they don't hear from you, then they don't have anything to go on but the reefer madness mentality."
"Cannabis is a love drug," said activist Mike Whitty, and "all use of marijuana is medical" because it relaxes you. Whitty also revealed that former Detroit Police Chief Isaiah McKinnon will speak in support of decriminalizing marijuana at Baldwin Public Library in Birmingham on Dec. 6.
During the session on veterans, Michael Krawitz, of Veterans for Medical Marijuana Access, said that 38 percent of veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan report that they felt they were suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome regardless of whether they were diagnosed with it. Many of these veterans have told him that "cannabis if a lifesaver." He's working to get PTSD added to the list of qualifying ailments for medical marijuana.
Criminal defense attorney John Targowski said that the "honeymoon" is over for dispensaries, and if you want to open one up you need "nonusers to support an end to prohibition."
But enough with the boring stuff. Based on the crowd that hung around late Sunday for the awards ceremony, people want to know about the winners. The judges were growers, caregivers, activists and a couple of analytical labs. And the winners are:
Best Booth (at the event): a tie between M3 Dirt Mix for growers, and the Made in Chicago glassblowers.
Best Product for sale: the Mate Magnetic Lighter
Best Glass Paraphernalia: Hit Man Glass
Best Edible: Captain Kirk's Key Lime Cheesecake (although I've got to say that the Blackberry Salmon Blue Cheese Crustini that took second place looked awful good).
Outstanding Concentrate: C4 LLC with Super Lemon Haze Blo
Highest Level of CBDs (one of the active substances in marijuana): GLCCDC from Cannatonic X with 12.3 percent
Best Sativa: the Obaminator from New World Seeds
Best Hybrid Strain: Sour OG Kush from Travers OG
Best Indica: OG Kush from the M22 Collective
Also, John Sinclair, who writes the Higher Ground column on alternate weeks, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. A High Times spokesperson said that, if it were not for Sinclair, there would be no medical marijuana in Michigan and there would be no medical marijuana Cannabis Cup.
I'll leave you with the words of one of the High Times speakers, who said, "The Medical Marijuana Cannabis Cup is here in Michigan because that's where the action is."
The action may be here, but the High Times is running its nonmedical 24th Cannabis Cup competition Nov. 20-24, in Amsterdam, Holland. That's just about the right time for a northern European vacation.