Cannabis Cup: A Comprehensive Review of the Event

Cannabis Cup: A Comprehensive Review of the Event
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The Cannabis Cup, one of California’s most expected annual events, has seen a sudden drop in popularity with the legalization of cannabis products across the country. But even though the two-day festival did not manage to gather a large audience, it’s still one of the world’s leading festivals for the marijuana industry, and it’s great fun as well.

What is The Cannabis Cup?

Despite the fact that its name makes it sound like a sporting event, the Cannabis Cup is an annual trade show. The event is sponsored by High Times magazine, and it amazes cannabis culture enthusiasts with competitions, product showcases, expositions, and seminars.

The Cannabis Cup sounds like a lot of fun, but it’s also one of the most important events for the cannabis community. This event allows the manufacturers in the cannabis industry to showcase their products and innovations. Every year, specialized judges decide which company grew the best medical cannabis, cooked the best edibles, or sold the best Kush.

History Of The Cannabis Cup

The High Times Cannabis Cup was founded in 1988, and it was held annually in November, in Amsterdam. The event encouraged judges from around the world to vote their favorite marijuana strains.

The Cannabis Cup was also entertaining. Each edition surprised its guests with some of the coolest bands, and it awarded the best manufacturers in the industry.
Unfortunately, the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup was discontinued in 2014, after 27 years of existence. The festival’s organizers decided to cancel the event partly due to the legalization of Cannabis events in other locations, partly due to the uncertainty of Dutch cannabis laws.

The Event Branches Out

High Times started organizing smaller festivals in various locations before shutting down the Amsterdam edition. The Cup is now held in other European cities, and in Jamaica. The first festival in the US was held back in 2010. The first US Cannabis Cup was held in California, but since the legalization of medical marijuana and the later legalization of recreational marijuana, the event was held in cities like Michigan, Denver, Las Vegas, Colorado, Seattle, and Portland as well.

What To Expect at Cannabis Cup?

First of all, you should know that every location charges an entrance fee. Cannabis Cup tickets can cost up to $120, depending on the location. Now, let’s check out some of the things you should expect to see and do at the event

  • Cannabis – Lots of it. Seriously. You should know that every manufacturer who wants to build a reputation in the industry will be present at the festival. Not only that, but all the vendors will bring out their best merchandise and will most likely sell them at promotional prices. You will get to browse the best cannabis strains, vape cartridge, cannabis seeds, and medical cannabis booths.
  • Food And Drinks – Well, most of the festival’s attendees get hungry or thirsty two hours into the show. That’s why most Cup editions offer better food than county fairgrounds. Most festivals collaborate with at least one or two dozen food and drink vendors who will cater to every taste. The Cannabis Cup SoCal provides every type of food you can imagine, from Kenyan cuisine to Greek souvlaki.
  • Trinkets, Gadgets, And Accessories – Lighters, skateboards, caps, sunglasses, you name it. Each Cup edition brings out some of the most creative and inventive manufacturers and vendors in the country. Just browsing their wares will take you about half a day.
  • Fun Activities – Every edition is different, but the organizers try their best to keep the attendees happy. Some Cups provide slides, Ferris Wheels, or Laser Tag arenas to provide amazing experiences.
    Playing VR games while you’re high is a match made in heaven, so most festivals will give you the possibility to experience virtual reality games.
    Recent editions offered petting zoos, and people made lines to lounge around dwarf goats, baby pigs, and bunnies. They’re so fluffy!
  • Tattoo Parlours – Some Cups invite world-famous tattoo artists to their events. There’s nothing like eating a THC-spiced ice cream while a tattoo artist inks one of your pieces, right?

Musical Acts

Cannabis Cup

Once you’ve smoked, eaten, and drank your fair share, remember to check out the festival’s main stage. The SoCal Cup was packed with A-grade artists like Nas, 2 Chainz, and Lil Wayne who performed live. Now, you shouldn’t expect to see these artists in every edition, but you can be certain that the organizers will plan a great concert every evening.

You should keep in mind that even though the festival starts earlier in the day, the main artists come out after 4 PM. Check your local Cup’s schedule, and make sure you do all your browsing and shopping before your favorite artist hits the stage.

Samples, Information, and Good Times

Even though the Cannabis Cups are filled with fun activities, they can also be informative. Leading experts in the industry hold seminars explaining the effects of CBD on medical marijuana patients. You can also listen to experts while visiting a live grow-room and see how the medicinal marijuana plants are grown. Every edition offers immersive experiences like massage spas, vape pen clinics, and dab rig expositions.

You can watch world-class cannabis chefs cook incredible recipes using hemp seed oil, or you can watch the competition.

The Cannabis Cup is, after all, a competition. Every year, High Times magazine hands out awards for the best products and manufacturers in the industry. As the years passed, the competition expanded and now includes several categories. Specialized judges review and award the following categories:

  • Flowers – subcategories Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid
  • Concentrates – subcategories Sativa, Indica, and Hybrid
  • CBD – subcategories Flowers, Concentrates, Edibles
  • Non-Solvent Hash
  • Edibles
  • Vape Pen Cartridges
  • Topicals
  • Medically Infused Products

Now, to avoid subjectivism, the products receive a qualitative score from the judges and one from third-party lab results. The combined qualitative score accounts for 75 percent of the final score, the rest is represented by the product’s cumulated rating of taste, aroma, aesthetics, visual, high/stone, and flush/burnability. Some of the categories we presented earlier keep track of other factors, as well.

The Cannabis Cup winners are announced at the end of the festival. Every winner receives a small specially-designed cup, but they also benefit from a lot of targeted publicity. Once you get on the winner’s list, cannabis users all around the world will learn about you.

Counterculture Hall of Fame

High Times editor Steven Hager started the Counterculture Hall of Fame in 1997. New inductions are made every year, usually by showing a small documentary film about the person who is going to be awarded.

The Hall of Famers

The Counterculture Hall of Fame list of inductees includes a lot of influential celebrities. This list includes names like:


  • Bob Marley
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Ina May Gaskin
  • Jack Herer
  • Neal Cassady
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Tommy Chong

The Cannabis Cup in Era of Legal Marijuana

Unfortunately, the cannabis industry in the US is having a difficult time transitioning to a fully-regulating marketplace. Since the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana in multiple states, the local authorities introduced more state regulations. Some of the state regulations make it more difficult for the organizers to get a permit for the event.

The abundance of regulations scared off some of the vendors that used to come to the Cannabis Cup regularly. In addition, the regulations restricted the consumption of marijuana during some of the Cup’s editions, especially if the event didn’t have a legal permit. On the bright side, the quality of the marijuana sold at festivals after the legalization is higher than ever.

On the other hand, since marijuana use has been legalized in more states, people can get their hands on some high-quality cannabis strains without coming to an event and having to pay up to $120 for the entrance fee.

While having fewer people present at a festival is definitely not beneficial for the vendors, it was a positive aspect for some of the audience members. People who came to these festivals prior to the legalization used to make lines every time they wanted to do something. They had to stay in line to get on a slide, on another line to buy ice-cream, on another one to buy trinkets, and so on.

Since there were fewer people in the audience, this year’s lines were smaller. The festival’s location looked bigger. People were more relaxed. More famous artists agreed to be associated with the event, and the musical acts were memorable.

The legalization of cannabis has lead to the disappearance of the omnipresent “doctors” who would charge $100 for a medical cannabis recommendation. Nowadays, anyone who is older than 21 is allowed to enter the festival and start sampling or consuming marijuana. Cannabis Cup

The Cannabis Cup Experience

If you’ve never attended one of the Cannabis Cups, you should do yourself a favor and do it when you have the chance. The festival is informative, fun, and brings together people who have the same mentality. Attending the Cup will allow you to get in touch with the leaders of the cannabis industry and learn aspects of it that aren’t known to the public.

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