I’ve been to quite a few marijuana cups, contests, and bowls — and one Ganja Games — as a judge, a member of the cannabis media, and as a competitor over the last fifteen years. I’ve even won a few trophies. While each event was a unique experience some stood out more than others. Here I’ll cover some of those events and why they’re memorable.

Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup

For the past four years Jeff Lundstrum, owner of Skunk Funk Smokers Emporium in Saskatoon, has put on the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup and this year will be no different. I have been to three so far and have coined it ‘Canada’s Friendliest Cup’ as there is some real truth to the idea of ‘prairie hospitality’.

I’m proud to have won two cups at the PMHC in 2013 in the ‘hybrid ‘ category, taking home second place for my Burmese and third for my Blueberry Jam from Dr. Atomic seeds. I was honoured to co-host this event last year with Cannabis Culture editor and Pot TV news anchor Jeremiah Vandermeer, and well-known cannabis activist and host of Vapor Central’s livestream channel show ‘The Mernauana Zone’, Matt Mernagh.

As well as being memorable for friendliness, the PMHC also deserves recognition for having the best ballot of any cup or competition I’ve been to. With detailed space laid out for judges to rate everything from taste to aroma to strength, and more, still to this day I’ve seen none better.

The PMHC has been held over two nights and three days at the Odeon Event Centre in downtown Saskatoon. The one drawback about this event, not that much of an inconvenience normally, is that while vaporizers and dabs are fine indoors we can’t smoke in the building. Smoking samples out back in a small tent in the alley at a marijuana judging event brings the overall event ‘point score’ down a tad for judges’ comfort.  Information about this year’s event is here.


Kush Cup

Another straight-forward strain-judging party has been held the last few summers in Vancouver: the Kush Cup, organized by Mark Klokied from kush.ca and Imedikate dispensary.

The highlights of this event for me are the celebrity meet ‘n’ greets. In 2013, I got to hang with Charlie Murphy as well as Pat Roach and John Dunsworth (Randy Bobandie and Jim Lahey from The Trailer Park Boys). At the 2015 Kush Cup the afternoon boat cruise featured Rob Wells, John Paul Trembly and Mike Smith a.k.a Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, The Trailer Park Boys. Scratch that off my bucket list.


Vansterdam Bowl and Ganja Games

In 2009, Dana Larsen put on the Vansterdam Bowl and Ganja Games. It was a multi-day event with traditional judging — where the Burmese I entered placed third overall — and also games where judges had to blind-guess strains, hit bongs, roll joints, and other tests of stoner skill.

As well as the event activity, buffets were served during the weekend at a private party in the Cannabis Culture smokers’ lounge.

This was a onetime cup. Game events don’t make money — in fact, if you break even you have done extremely well. What they are really about is promoting your brand or even yourself as an event organizer: it’s not easy to present, to bring in all the right people and get them working together, and pull off the complete package.


Toker’s Bowl

The event I remember most well, that has not had another one come close to holding a smoking joint to, was the annual ‘Tokers’ Bowl” put on from 2002-2005 by Cannabis Culture and Marc Emery’s direct seeds, and organized by the late Michelle Rainey.

These four-day events were some of the best put together and well run cups I’ve ever been to and are sadly missed. Even the hefty $700 price tag was well worth it and the bowl always sold out its 200 limited spots.

On one evening there was a semi-formal dinner cruise with live music supplied by The Tall Brothers, a jazz/blues threesome playing their own marijuana songs. On another night we took over an entire bowling alley and all bowled or played pool for fun prizes, including a Volcano vaporizer, all the while smoking some of the best weed one could find as judges kept to the task of evaluating the best strains.

Restaurants that allowed us to blaze inside were booked and gourmet meals were served amongst clouds of smoke to happy cup goers. Private bus tours to scenic Vancouver spots were arranged for interested out of town guests during the days and an area in the Cannabis Culture basement was turned into our own private lounge.

The judges packs came with a stainless steel bowl containing all the strains and the event logo and date on the lid, a tee shirt, grinder, pipe, magnifying glass for checking out your buds up close, and some other great schwag.

I miss those events and I miss Michelle even more. In 2005 the fifth Tokers’ Bowl was cancelled when the United States government had the DEA and the RCMP arrest Marc Emery, Michelle Rainey and Greg Williams on seed importing and money laundering charges. Michelle succumbed to cancer and Marc ended up doing four-plus years in a US prison. But that’s another story….


Concentrates and Fundraising

2015 I saw a new style of events start up: cups designed just to judge concentrates. One was the ‘Great Northern Extraction Concentrate Cup’ held in Vancouver the night of April 19th. A small bar was rented out for a private party and with so many out of town people in for the 4/20 celebrations it was a well-attended upscale cup.

Another memorable use for cups that has sprung up is as a fundraiser. The ‘Concentrate Open’, for instance, is a monthly series of single night dab-judging events held at different locations all leading up to a final wrap-up cup later this year. All in an effort to raise funds for the Coalition to fight the MMPR and the Owen Smith Supreme Court Challenge legal bills.

There’s also been a lot of boat trips, dinners, and the Great Canadian Glass Gathering (we might have mentioned it), of course, but these are my most memorable judging events.

Cultivate Freedom, one party at a time.