>em>High Times Magazine threw arguable the biggest private pot parties in the nation over the weekend, drawing tens of thousands of people over two days to the Exdo Events Center in Denver for the magazine's third cannabis contest in as many years. Past events were all medical cups. But this year's was billed as the first true Cannabis Cup that was open to everyone.
And apparently, that word got out to everyone. In our two days at the festival, we met dozens of folks from Texas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and even a few awesome Kiwis from New Zealand - including the owner of New Zealand's only hemp store. All were blown away by the open use around them - which is completely understandable when you come from places where marijuana isn't as tolerated as Colorado. Shit, it was even impressive in scope for those of us used to such spectacles.
Past events took over the 22,000 Exdo Events center for an exhibition center and main stage while leaving a warehouse accessible through the alley as the medical marijuana use area. This year nearly doubled that size, taking over the events center and the warehouse again for medical purposes, as well as sectioning off the city block next to the center and finally spilling over into a huge vacant lot that was transformed into a pot-centric circus carnival midway for everyone over 21 to enjoy.
There was still a medical marijuana patient only section, filled primarily with Colorado locals as usual - but the main event was the field. Local dispensaries, marijuana product makers and other assorted booths were set up and everyone was handing out free cannabis of some kind, though many with a wink and a nod that it didn't actually come from the shop but from one of the adults over 21 running the booth. It is completely legal in Colorado for one adult over 21 to give marijuana to someone else over 21 so long as it's under an ounce.
William Breathes. "Dab me, bro."
And people were making the most of that new rule. A cloud of smoke hung over the fenced-in area all day, with pounds of hash oil being handed out dab-by-dab to people who lined up in front of the booths sometimes ten or fifteen people deep for their turn. Signs were put up around the venue warning first-timers about dabs and I heard quite a few oil-dome virgins talking about not being that high since their first time smoking.
The booths ranged from simple tables with a loaded bong on it to showcase either a pipe company or some other product to massive installations. Denver-based Pink House set up a pink lounge for people to snag a seat and a spliff, Incredibowl had a team of people running around with loaded pipes giving anyone who wanted one. A few opted for the skeezy approach. Like 420 Wellness (their hash nearly burned my face off last year) who had topless, painted women handing out dabs to the lines of bro-dudes that packed the line. There was also a smaller fenced-off medical marijuana patient lounge outdoors with much of the same, minus the crowds - which at times were a major issue.
High Times said that they had sold as many as 15,000 tickets at one point, and while that number sounded higher than possible - it wasn't hard to believe after Saturday's turnout.
William Breathes. Lines.
Lines to get in on Saturday afternoon even hours after the even had opened the doors wrapped around the block. I heard people saying they spent four-hours plus in line - the only thing keeping the sanity was copious amounts of herb being passed around by people waiting (despite the warnings from security that open, public consumption is still illegal in Colorado). Even the VIP line took an hour to get through at 2 p.m. on Saturday. We left around 3:20 to get downtown to the 4/20 rally and it was clear that most of the people on the street were going to be celebrating the famed time of day still in line.
By Sunday, though, the place had calmed down and lines were non-existent. It was still packed inside, and people still cued up a dozen deep for dabs - but it was much less shoulder-to-shoulder. It was much easier to get around and check out the products on display, like uber-technical hash-extraction machines, intricate and amazing glass pieces, storage containers, grow lights and everything else you can imagine on the peripheral of the cannabis world from shitty clay pipes to clothing and even an awesome auction for the arts through the Colorado Project (it's where we scored that sweet Colorado flag bubbler oil rig on the RIGHT).
Colorado Project auction piece won by your's truly.
The award ceremony on Sunday night was shorter than last year's events, with organizers asking only first-place winners to take the stage this year and a lack of pre-show entertainment aside from some Cali rapper who rhymes about doing dabs and smoking purple weed. In addition to past award categories, the cannabis cup this year also awarded the best U.S.-grown flowers and best U.S.-made hash - a quasi-gray area award more in line with past Amsterdam cannabis cups that also gave prizes for imported hash from places like Morocco and Spain.
William Breathes. Award ceremony.
Congrats to all of the High Times Cup winners: GreenWerkz for their double win in the CBD areas for their R4. Healthy Leaf in edibles for a peppermint chocolate chip treat, Essential Extracts and Selecta Nikka T for the OG win with herb from Natural Mystic, Karma Ceuticals for their Gucci Earwax, Denver Relief for their Reserva Privada OG 18 hybrid, The Clinic for the Tangie in the Sativa and Greenest Green for the Skywalker 600 indica. Also bigup to the Best hash from RP California for the Tangie Shatter and Platinum Girl Scout Cookies took home overal best flower in the U.S. Mixed categories.
Below, check out photos, as well as a list of all of the winners from this year and a video from day 1 of the event.