Award Winning—you see it on bottles of whiskey, wine and local microbrews. As the marijuana industry grows, you may start to see these words more and more on cannabis labels. Industries are naturally competitive, and it was only a matter of time before competitions for marijuana cultivators started popping up across North America.
In fact, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, hosted its fifth annual marijuana competition and trade show Oct. 2-4, 2015. The Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup was open to the public for those over 18 and open to those younger so long as they held medical marijuana cards. In addition to the various growers, distributors and various vendors, vaporizers were allowed in the event and a smoking tent for combustibles was available to those with a medical card.
Similar events are increasing across the United States, and NW Cannabis Classic is sponsoring a trio of inaugural events. NW Cannabis Classic is an organization whose goal is to promote the development of the marijuana industry by hosting trade fairs and cannabis competitions across the three states in the northwest where marijuana is now recreationally legal.
The first event on its list was in Anchorage, Alaska, in May of this year. It was a three-day trade show at Anchorage’s Dena’ina Center, and according to Cory Wray, the event’s organizer, close to 700 people bought pre-sale tickets and about as many purchased tickets at the door.
The show hosted product demonstrations, panels and technology showcases from many vendors aimed at users and entrepreneurs. Taylor Bickford, director of Alaska operations for Strategies 360, a marketing and consulting firm, said that there was a gold rush-type attitude towards the substance, and that, “There’s a lot of excitement. I think you’re seeing the emergence of a real Alaska industry.”
The next event was hosted in Tacoma, Washington, in late August. A similar three-day affair, 420 Radio’s Russ Belville presented awards for best flowers, edibles and concentrates. After the results were in, one company stood out—TJ’s Organic Provisions had the top two hybrids, first place in indicas and second place in sativas.
Rounding out the trio will be the upcoming event in Portland this November.
Interestingly, a similar event was just canceled in Oregon due to problems gaining permits and local approval. The 2015 Oregon Cannabis Cup, hosted by High Times, was originally slated to take place in Portland; however, exhaustive regulations proved too difficult to navigate and the event was moved to Milwaukie, Oregon. Soon after, that application was also withdrawn when similar bureaucratic problems ensued.
Amanda Younger, Event Director Hight Times, said, “We jumped through hoops of fire, answered every question posited, responded to every critique lodged, made every refinement requested in connection with the Milwaukie application … . In one instance the city asked us to change anticipated attendance from 5000 to 7000 and then cited the change it requested as a concern for granting the permit.”
While they aren’t giving up and hope to host the Oregon event in 2016, High Times is hosting a Medical Cannabis Cup in Lemoore, California, this Halloween.
Competition generally leads to greater jumps in innovation and progress, and there is no reason to think that marijuana is any different. As the industry grows and more states legalize marijuana, these events will surely become more common and coastal marijuana contests may not be far off.