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Hey buds, JD here – I was soaking up some sunshine and CBDs at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Socal last weekend when I bumped into a couple members of the Grimey Gatsby fam doing the same! Danielle and I decided to collab on a recap for you guys and we hope you enjoy it at least half as much as we enjoyed the weekend’s festivities (and dabs, don’t forget the dabs).
This is just two people’s perspectives, and we certainly didn’t see everything, but we think you’ll dig it.
So, this was just my 4th High Times Cannabis Cup…
…wait, let me just stop right there. This is one of those moments that I need to take a step down from the clouds and remind myself that somewhere around 99.999% of the world’s population would consider one trip to a High Times Cannabis Cup to be sort of crazy, yet to me, only four doesn’t seem like that many.
As the organizers at High Times add more cities to the list of annual events – such as Portland, Oregon in 2015 – competitors, vendors, and even everyday attendees have begun following the show from location to location.
This has only led to further growth in ticket and booth sales, making each High Times Cannabis Cup even bigger and wilder than the last – and the SoCal Cup did not disappoint!
I was able to hit the Cup for one day, Saturday, and I arrived just as the gates were opened to the general public.
Still, the line for ticket-holders was very long, and from what I saw, it got much, much longer throughout the day. Fortunately for me, I had a vendor’s pass courtesy of The T Case, which allowed me to skip the line and walk right inside.
Once inside, I immediately realized just how much more grand the scale of the party was from years prior…
My first High Times Cannabis Cup was at the same venue in San Bernardino in 2013. It was the first one held there and I remember you could walk around the medicated area in about 10 minutes. When the sun went down, there was no exterior lighting in place, so booths scrambled to Home Depot to get temporary lighting to keep the party going.
Last year, the scene was considerably bigger, but really nothing compared to what I saw this past weekend. From a huge increase in the number and variety of booths, to an abundant amount of food and refreshments, to wacky dudes jumping dirt bikes way up in the air, and a truly incredible amount of cannabis enthusiasts cruising around, the 2015 SoCal High Times Cannabis Cup had a little bit of everything for a Grime-loving people-watcher like me.
I had about 30 actual friends who would be at the Cup on Saturday, as well as several “Friends List” friends from social media who I hoped to shake hands with and bump to the “actual” list.
My home base for the day was The T Case/Health Stone Glass booth where I knew there would be cold soda and a warm Ninja Nail for me no matter how silly I got from free dabs.
The first person to find me there and hug me was my real good friend Lance/LDog, one of the main influences who got me into writing about weed so many years ago. He told me he was doing some filming for the Vader booth, and that I should check it out.
I cruised right around the corner to see my friends at the iDab/PeliNail/Ziggy’s Smoke Shop booth and was offered a delicious looking dab from perhaps the coolest Elbo rig I have ever seen. As I exhaled, I realized that a couple cameras were rolling so keep your eyes peeled for your boy in those HIGHlight vids.
It was right around that time that I saw the one and only Adam Ill making some rounds, handing out slaps, high-5s and hugs to his homies. Having never met in person, I introduced myself and the guy could not be more down to earth. “Let me introduce you to my girl,” he said as we made our way to the Vader booth that I had heard so much about by now.
Walking up to the spot, I realized that the “Vader booth” was really the Vader Village, a concert-level stage and sound system, and Adam was the man on the mic all day, MCing, hyping the horde, and handing out hundreds of grams of top shelf Vader Extracts and other hot products to the constant crowd surrounding the stage.
Walking me around back, I finally met Adam’s lovely lady, and my West Coast Partner in Grime, Danielle from The Grimey Gatsby. It was so cool to finally meet her and discuss this writing collaboration idea, but little did either of us know just how awesome her weekend was about to become.
Watching Adam work the massive crowd was very cool. He held an impromptu contest to see which wook had the heaviest hat full of pins, which had me laughing my ass off as I imagined my next comic idea.
From that moment on, through all of my travels, I knew that the Vader Village would take the Best Booth award, and my best bet was on the Dr. Greenthumb booth taking 2nd place in that category. Sure enough, I was right! With t-shirt cannons, non-stop giveaways, celebrity appearances, and Adam Ill himself keeping the hustle moving, Vader Extracts took it to another level.
I spent hours eating burritos and weed-candy, smoking enough joints, blunts, and dabs to cripple a wooly mammoth, and inspecting each booth for some ideal cannabis to bring home.
Like a dummy, I somehow passed up on the Grizzly Genetics “2010” strain, which ended up taking 3rd Place in Best Hybrid. I also passed on the highly recommended BOG Seeds Sour Bubble.
I did make it by the Alpha Medic booth, which has become a bit of a Cup tradition for me. They always have amazing strains, and they even brought a Cannabis Cup home to San Diego for Best Indica with their Godfather OG in 2013.
I interviewed them for Nuggetry magazine shortly after that win, and it was cool to see that issue of the mag proudly displayed at their booth now in 2015.
I grabbed some flawless Chemdawg from them, as well as some mind-blowing Purple Coma. Here is a sneak peek, but trust me, there is a full review coming very soon for this award-winning cut.
With just $20 left in my pre-determined budget, I was drawn into the Loompa Farms booth, since those strains were some of my favorite from back in the day, and their large jar of Miami White was shining even on an overcast afternoon.
I asked for one stinkin gram of the stuff, and the guy literally reached into the jar, picked out a bud, and handed it to me. Even if it weighed a gram and a half, I would have thought it strange to not weigh it, and even stranger to put it in my hand instead of…ya know…a bag or something. Instead, it weighed 0.77g when I got it home. You win some, you lose some.
I bumped into my main man The Grimey Gatsby himself, who blessed us with a visit from his digs in Colorado. It is always good to see the dude, and the handshakes and hugs are always as real as it gets. His positivity is contagious, and even several dabs deep, our brief business chat really resonated with me and is already helping me make wise choices.
It rained off and on around 4:20pm, but not enough to scare anyone off. But after a week in Las Vegas for the CHAMPS Trade Show leading up to the Cannabis Cup, I was pretty tired by about 5:30, and I loaded up my car full of potheads and we headed home to San Diego, each of us inspecting our newly acquired stash along the way.
I was home and in bed before 11pm, and was not able to return on Sunday, but the real action and excitement happened pretty much right about when I left, but luckily Danielle stayed for the entire show and can pick up where I left off –
Like Jack, this was the 4th High Times Cannabis Cup that I’ve been to, having attended each one in SoCal since it’s inception here in 2012. I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve been able to witness first-hand the evolution of the event throughout all four years and if I hadn’t seen it for myself, I probably wouldn’t believe how much better it gets from year to year. I must admit that I lost a little bit of faith when the location was moved from L.A. to San Bernardino in 2013. In the days leading up to that Cup, there was uncertainty as to whether it would take place at all and the last minute move to the NOS Event Center definitely left both vendors and attendees a little out of sorts. The result was that the event had a thrown-together vibe that left me feeling more than a little ambivalent about my future attendance. Last summer in my feature about the first Chalice Festival, I even went so far as to write that “in my opinion, the Chalice Festival rivaled (if not surpassed) any High Times Cannabis Cup that I have attended.” Looking back at this past weekend, I almost feel as if the organizers of the 2015 SoCal High Times Cannabis Cup had personally read my words and decided that this event would be their way of making me eat them. Well, I’m here to say that I will gladly do so and even ask for seconds.
My position and perspective at these events is a little unique. Unlike most people who choose to go, I don’t really consume enough marijuana to consider myself a true smoker and I neither grow weed, produce extracts nor blow glass. I’m not your average attendee or vendor. My significant other of almost a decade, Adam Ill, has been working in the entertainment and marijuana industries for what seems like forever and being present to support him has given this observer and writer the opportunity to attend events that allow me to witness a movement that is quite literally history in the making.
This year I made “Vader Village” (the stage and collection of vendors that made up the Vader Extracts/Paris “booth”) my home-base and ventured out regularly to check out the other areas and interact with friends and acquaintances. Well, it would be more accurate to say that I tried to make my rounds. I’m incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to meet Jack, my SoCal Gatsby counterpart, earlier in the weekend. Not only because it’s such a rare pleasure for me to meet any of the Grimey family in person – and in this circle, its always a pleasure – but because once the event was in full swing, the only thing I could locate with precision was the indoor bathroom. Combine one light-weight smoker with massive amounts of consumption, seemingly endless offers to sesh and an event of such magnitude and the results are not going to be the most coherent person.
Maybe I’m biased (or maybe not if you consider the results of the awards) but I don’t think I could have personally chosen a better location to park myself throughout the weekend. With live performances from artists such as D12, Demrick, and Lil Debbie who was representing for the ladies, twerking contests (that didn’t exclude men!), and giveaways that included apparel, edibles and thousands of grams of wax and marijuana shot from a t-shirt cannon, I feel pretty secure in saying that their Best Booth award was well-deserved. From my vantage point at the back of the stage I witnessed the mob that was present there throughout the entire weekend and while I loved seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of the crowd, I do feel the need to be critical of one aspect. While I think its amazing that the booths were willing to throw out so much free merchandise, I find it completely contemptible to watch grown men shoving women to the ground all in the pursuit of a free gram of shatter. I suppose it was a blessing that no fights broke out but, on a side note to the men at these events in the future: Don’t do that shit. It’s rude, petty and an all-around bad look, especially since it was obvious that there was more than enough to go around.
The nights were just as exciting as the days although the focus was more on entertainment and consumption and less on making sales and earning awards. The High Times sanctioned concert that regularly takes place had a line-up that included two seasoned performers and cannabis industry celebs, B-Real and Rick Ross. I just recently met B-Real while attending the recording of one of Adam’s shows and I can’t emphasize enough what a down to earth person he is. I hadn’t seen him perform since a Smoke Out more than five years ago and having just met him, I was pretty damn excited to see his set. It became clear early on that I wouldn’t be disappointed when he rolled through the backstage doors clutching a monster joint attached to a GoPro and lit it up before he even hit the stage (the “Day in the Life of a Joint” footage can be seen in full at Breal.tv). That monster was puffed and passed damn near his entire set although I couldn’t say for sure since, true to his character, he eventually passed it into the audience for concert-goers to enjoy as well. As usual, he put on a great performance and his energy was as high as the people in the crowd. The headliner, Ricky Rozay himself, didn’t disappoint in the consumption category either. Weavers, now infamous for the masterpieces they provide weekly to the Cannabis Community Secret Sesh, provided him with a custom life-sized champagne bottle blunt that he puffed throughout his set. If you weren’t there or somehow missed it, I strongly suggest you look up photos or footage as it was literally something that most of us can only conceive of in our wildest hip-hop superstar dreams.
Once I was done at the concert, I used my last reserves of post-show adrenaline to get myself over to the official after-party at The Hotel a few blocks away. Hosted by The Cali Connection, Moxie, Nexus, Weedmaps, Hitman Glass, King’s Reserve, Bhang and Presidential Rx – several of whom are past and present Cannabis Cup winners themselves – the gathering was a welcome chance to have a drink and smoke with friends I had missed at the Cup along with the most important things on my agenda at that point; sitting down and eating. Although I would have liked to stay longer and re-hash the events of the day, once I had taken a spin on the dance floor and eaten myself into a food coma, I decided to call it a night and drag myself back to my room when I found myself nodding off into my last plate of taquitos and guacamole.
The entire weekend was pretty spectacular overall but I would be lying if I said that anything other than the awards ceremony was my favorite part. As the sun set on Sunday, I was eagerly anticipating hearing the results, especially knowing that so many friends had a stake in the outcome – and I definitely wasn’t disappointed. As anyone who was near me could tell you, I had some pretty serious proud girlfriend moments when I got to see Adam and the rest of the Vader/Paris team take the stage repeatedly, placing in the majority of the categories that they entered. Knowing as I do the importance that this group puts on compassion and patient appreciation, I was truly happy to see that they took home first place in each of the categories that were open to voting from the attendees, Best Booth, Best Glass and Best Product. As if that weren’t enough, I also watched several good friends take home awards in their categories including the amazing Pissing Excellence, the only male who dared to enter the twerking competition and TLC Collective who had the Grimey Gatsby himself putting his magic touch on their booth throughout the weekend.
Overall I’d have to say it was an incredibly fun and personally satisfying weekend that really increased my admiration for the entire cannabis community and the High Times staff specifically. I’ll definitely be making it a point to continue attending and watching the event maintain its trajectory of evolution and progress. I’m hoping that I’ll be on hand to enjoy the first one where marijuana is legalized recreationally here but, since I’m not sure when that day will come and I’m already eagerly anticipating the next one, I’m thinking that I may just have to make a trip up to Colorado in April to visit with the rest of the Grimey Gatsby fam and see what a legal state has to offer in the way of a High Times Cannabis Cup.