Published on November 22nd, 2015 | by gatsbyadmin0
Jamaican History – Cannabis Cup
The High Times World Cannabis Cup Moves to Negril, Jamaica
This past week I was lucky enough to travel to Negril, Jamaica with Dr. Dina, Jason Beck, Adam Ill and the rest of the A.H.H.S West Hollywood entourage to witness history being made as High Times Magazine held their World Cup for the first time ever in Negril, Jamaica. Located in Amsterdam in previous years, the location change came swiftly upon the heels of Jamaica’s amendments to their laws regarding cannabis. Although I’ve never attended one of their events in Amsterdam, I must say that I wholeheartedly support their decision to move to a different locale – and not only because it gave me the opportunity to get a few tan lines in the middle of November.
As of April 15, 2015 (just 5 days shy of 4/20), the amendments to Jamaica’s Dangerous Drug Acts became law, granting those within the Rastafari culture sacramental rights for the first time since marijuana was criminalized in the early 20th century. These amendments also allow cultivation of up to 5 plants by any household and makes possession of up to 2 ounces a petty offense that will carry a penalty of a ticket – the cost of which would be about $5 USD. The new changes within the act don’t just affect the locals of Jamaica or Rastas who smoke the holy herb for religious purposes; those visiting Jamaica who have prescriptions to use medical marijuana will also be able to obtain permits from the Health Ministry which will allow them to legally purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana during their stay. With all of these recent changes in policy combined with the hardships experienced in Amsterdam in recent years, is it any surprise that the annual World Cup was moved to Jamaica this November?
I would imagine that this would have been a pretty obvious decision for High Times because really, how could it get any better? The new amendments are accommodating of everything the Cannabis Cup stands for and the weather in Jamaica during November beats Amsterdam hands down. However, while at the event, I learned that none of it would have happened had the Rastafari Rootz Fest not hosted the Cup and, without their assistance, the event would not even have been permitted. When requesting permission to hold the annual gathering there, the government initially declined – unless arrangements were made to incorporate it into the Rastafari Rootzfest. Fortunately they were able to do so and, though I think it was mutually beneficial for both Rootzfest and High Times, I think the real winners are going to be the local Jamaican growers.
I hate to say it, but the local buds that we sampled were not the best quality (and we made sure we were totally fair by trying quite a variety). From what I could tell – and I’m no expert – this wasn’t due to strain limitations or growing processes. In fact, we visited a local grow and they had some pretty tasty-looking plants; plus, what we did try got us plenty high. However, smoking the local most often caused a slight burning sensation in my throat and didn’t have the best flavor. I believe (again, NOT an expert) the flaw lies in their drying processes which are a bit more complicated due to a very humid climate and lack of current technology. Interestingly enough, one of the concerns I heard voiced most often when discussing seeds and strains was the local growers’ vigilance regarding anything to do with Monsanto or cultivation techniques that utilized unnatural chemicals and/or processes. Many growers seem to rely on sun and water alone, don’t wish to grow indoors with lights and refuse to use nutrients. Personally, I have major respect for these growers and their wishes to keep their cultivation techniques 100% natural; but I also think that the High Times Cannabis Cup being held in Jamaica is going to be hugely beneficial in exposing them to other growers that they can exchange information with, thus allowing them to grow better product while still upholding their natural standards.
The World Cup and Rastafari Rootzfest were held in Long Bay Beach Park, located on the northern end of 7 mile beach in Negril, Jamaica. Though the events were held in two separate areas, it was a relatively small location and even if they were combined, I don’t think they would even add up to a quarter of the space a Cannabis Cup in the US occupies. While this may be viewed as a negative in the normal course of a World Cup, the smaller scale of the space utilized wasn’t necessarily a drawback as it gave everyone present many more opportunities to meet, connect and interact, something that is nearly impossible at the larger venues in say, San Bernardino, CA or Denver, CO.
I’m definitely more familiar with the Cup faction of the event, but I found it much more comfortable walking through the Rootzfest section (and not only because of the amazing local crafts and impromptu drum circles). While the ground there was actually made up of concrete and packed dirt, the Cannabis Cup section was in a grassy field that turned into a mosquito and spider-infested swamp after the heavy rains we experienced on and off throughout the four days we were there. However, I can’t complain too much; through copious amounts of bug spray (I believe my blood was at least 30% insecticide throughout my stay), I was able to avoid being completely eaten alive and the stage located right on the beach more than made up for the conditions. In fact, one night during the concert, we made the 5 minute walk from our hotel to the venue with pool rafts in tow and floated in the clear blue waters while enjoying the music. It truly was a magical and memorable experience – that is, until I noticed the massive crabs scuttling below the water only inches from our cheeks and got the hell out.
There were actually two separate Cup competitions being held simultaneously in Jamaica – The World Cup, which was open to everyone and The Jamaican Cup, which was only open to Jamaican locals. Although I’ve seen them all take home wins before, it was great to see some hometown favorites accept awards in Jamaica. Among those there were Honey Pot, Moxie (who, hands down, gave the best acceptance speeches I’ve ever heard) and, of course, A.H.H.S West Hollywood who came away with no fewer than 4 trophies including two for Phuncky Feel Tips. Although they weren’t present, I also heard some personal favorites called during the ceremony – Vader, Greenwolf and Loudpack – as well as a couple of companies that I’ve been wanting to check out (Hibiscus Topicals and Om Edibles).
Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t familiar with any of the entries from Jamaica, but it was a really special experience getting to witness their awards ceremony. These people and companies got to accept some of the highest accolades available within the cannabis world for the first time ever and the pride and excitement was palpable as they came on stage to accept their awards. For many, these acknowledgments are the beginning of an opportunity that has the potential to change their lives. Since I was present to witness the first legal cannabis event in the history of Jamaica, I truly hope I’m able to attend next year and see the progress they’ve made within the their cannabis community over the next year.
I also hope to see many more familiar faces there next November as the entire trip was the experience of a lifetime that I’d love to share with more people. If you missed it this year, not to worry. Dr. Dina and the rest of the A.H.H.S WeHo crew documented the majority of our 10-day stay and will be sharing a web series of our adventures for your enjoyment. Below you’ll find the first episode from when we visited The Blue Hole and had what was probably one of the most epic smoke seshes ever. Take a look, enjoy and stay tuned for more!