Raise high the Cup

Michigan Medical Cannabis Cup spurs and rewards creativity

Oct 26, 2011 at 12:00 am

The first Michigan Medical Cannabis Cup came to Detroit earlier this month, in time for the harvest season, and handed out first, second and third place cups to an impressive list of local producers of buds and medibles.

The two-day expo, held at Bert's Warehouse Theatre in the Eastern Market, brought out a steady stream of people to look into the wares and services being touted at the vendor booths, listen to the seminars (the speakers were broadcast throughout the house over the sound system), and enjoy the friendly atmosphere generated by this curious congregation of local vipers and medical marijuana patients. (Don't recognize "vipers"? Hey, that's classic lingo for smokers going back to the '20s.)

The competition that gives the event its name was established at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam many years ago and spurred the Dutch grow community to higher and higher levels of creativity and production with each successive year. 

Since the establishment of legal medical marijuana in almost a third of U.S. states, High Times has responded by staging Medical Cannabis Cups in Denver, San Francisco and now the Motor City to recognize and award the dedicated souls who grow our medicine in the newly liberated zones.

I was pleased to note that my old friend Kevin Plamondon's M22 Collective of Traverse City took first place in the Indica Cup with its Grandaddy Urkel strain and second in the Sativa Cup with Sour Diesel G-Cut 04. The Traverse Hydroponic Company took first place honors in the Hybrids Cup with an irresistible breed blending three all-time favorites: Sour OG Kush. That's a pretty nice showing for the northwestern sector of the state.

Another friend, Captain Kirk of Medmar, pulled first place in the Edibles Cup with his delicious Key Lime Cheesecake, followed by the Blue Water Compassion Center with its Blackberry Salmon Blue Cheese Crustini, and Totally Herbal Care took third with Permafrost Kief Mint Chocolate.

The Concentrates Cup awarded Super Lemon Haze by CY LLC first place, CPL Hash by New World Seeds second and CPL Hash Oil by Cannabistro placed third. The CBD Award for high cannabinoid content went to Cannatonic X.

Rounding out the list of winners for producing the all-important sativa, indica and hybrid strains that help keep us healthy were New World Seeds with Obamanator Sativa (first place) and the Metro Detroit Compassion Club with Sour Diesel XI (third). The Indica Cup found 98 Old School from TLC Services in second place and CPL from Cannabistro third. For hybrids American Meds took second place with Galaxy Godbud and New World Seeds won its second Cup with a third-place award for Creama Sweet Relief.

Congratulations to all the growers and indeed all the entrants in the premiere Michigan competition, and to the people at High Times magazine for bringing the Cannabis Cup concept to Detroit and making it work in the context of the Michigan medical marijuana movement. 

The Cannabis Cup is always in good fun —  even if police shut down paraphernalia sales and the medication tent — and my own position on the question of competition among the myriad excellent sorts of smoke available is well known: It's all good. But at the same time growing weed to answer the needs of medical patients and recreational consumers is a very serious undertaking indeed and, as in Amsterdam, the Michigan winners may expect a significant surge of interest in their honored strains during the coming year.

Kudos to Holice P. Wood of the Trans-Love Energies Compassion Club (full disclosure: he's my partner in crime at Trans-Love), who served as the local liaison for High Times in organizing the event, secured the splendid venue provided by Bert Dearing for the expo, and produced the smashing Saturday night party at the Warehouse on the southwest side where the 420 Funk Mob and surprise guest George Clinton turned things out Detroit-stylee.

From this writer's perspective, the initial Michigan Medical Cannabis Cup was a rousing success for a maiden voyage and for High Times' first major entry into the Michigan marijuana community, which has been on the cutting edge of the movement since the mid-1960s. They promise to be back next fall with the second edition, and that's something to look forward to.

After a lifetime of being treated like degenerate criminals simply for choosing to smoke marijuana, a benevolent herb with pervasive healing properties that was declared illegal with no showing of harm whatsoever, it's a beautiful thing to be able to come out into the open under the aegis of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act and commune with fellow patients, caregivers and other sorts of smokers in a warm, friendly environment where we can be ourselves without fear of censure or arrest.

While the present situation is not exactly the one we might dream up in our highest reveries, nor even the one we anticipate when the police are finally removed from our midst and redirected toward fighting actual crime, it represents tremendous progress along the road to legalized marijuana in our state after nearly 40 years of stagnation.

Marijuana was classified as a narcotic until 1972. After the herb was redefined as a "controlled substance," three Michigan cities — Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti and East Lansing — enacted local ordinances designed to consider marijuana offenses as the lowest possible priority for the forces of law and order, reducing the penalty for possession to a $5 fine exacted after the issuance of a ticket.

But the thrilling years of forward motion toward legalization in Michigan came to a halt in 1977, when the state Legislature refused to take the process of increasing the rationality of the marijuana statutes any further. For 30 years, the status quo persisted and the law enforcement industry found new ways to benefit from the criminal proscription against marijuana.

Arresting marijuana smokers in Michigan is like shooting fish in a barrel. The thousands and thousands of arrestees were channeled into a well-organized and highly efficient system of punishment that no longer focused on prison time for offenders but substituted fines, court costs, probation fees, drug treatment programs to rehabilitate the marijuana smoker and, in extreme cases, the confiscation of cash, bank accounts, homes, cars and other assets. 

No matter the exact form of punishment meted out to a particular defendant, in every instance the offenders were stained with the indelible stigma of conviction as a drug criminal, with severe implications in terms of employment, housing and virtually every other aspect of daily life.

A vast industry mushroomed on the backs of the pitiful victims of the law enforcement juggernaut. Think of it in all its dimensions: legions of narcotics police, prosecutors, lawyers, judges, jailers, probation officers, drug treatment specialists — all sucking money out of the marijuana defendants and the taxpayers to build their power and might.

Top this off with a state Legislature that is dead set against even the reasonable implementation of the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act to the full extent mandated by the 62 percent of voting citizens and we've got a lot of cards stacked against us. But we're still allowed to vote and we can extend the present act even further by utilizing the citizen petition process once again — next year.

This bears further discussion at some length, but it'll have to be a little later because this column is over for this installment. Thanks for reading.