Cannabis Cup

The High Times Cannabis Cup is the most recognized competition surrounding cannabis in the world. It was founded in 1988 by Steve Hager, the former “High Times” editor.

What does “Cannabis Cup” mean?

Initially, the Cannabis Cup was an in-house underground event in Amsterdam. Later it grew and became focused on medical marijuana.

Until recently, the Cannabis Cup was a blind competition of products, unlabeled, in a kit for judges. The top three products in each category by consumer choice are awarded, and the Cup has evolved into a source of international bragging rights.

Typically the Cannabis Cup presented like an award show, with a celebration, touring festival type atmosphere focused on the world of marijuana. Highlights include not only products, but also world-class musical performances and political events. The cups have helped fight the stigma surrounding criminalization and the “stoner” for decades, and have helped push toward legalization while opening millions of minds.

Now, in the era of COVID-19, High Times is again changing the competition, as we describe below.

Cannabis Cup Usage and Meaning:

Cannabis Cup is a proper noun referring to a specific event. Examples of usage:

  • “The budtender recommended this flower, said it won the Cannabis Cup last year!”
  • “Horatiella acts like they’re the best grower ever. It’s not like they’ve won the Cannabis Cup.”
  • “I was hoping to attend the Cannabis Cup this year, but like all other events, it seems to be canceled.”

History of the Cannabis Cup

At the first Cannabis Cup above a bar in Amsterdam, around 50 people watched Skunk #1 win the top prize. After that first year, more awards were added, including “Best Hybrid,” “Best Sativa,” “Best Indica,” with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each.

Within a few years, hundreds of people were attending the Cannabis Cup. The event grew in fame throughout the 1990s, and opened to public voting with ticket buyers going on “coffee shop crawls,” sampling and judging entries, and voting.

By the 2000s, the Cannabis Cup had become a serious commercial event in an industry that was growing in earnest.

Cannabis Cup Today

With COVID-19 keeping cannabis consumers inside and consumer choice awards more popular than ever, High Times seized on a unique opportunity and changed the Cannabis Cup competition again. This is a brand new change, just happening now, so there’s no way to know how it will play out in full.

But here it is: the High Times Cannabis Cup People’s Choice Edition. Culminating in a digital award show awarding the winners, the People’s Choice Cannabis Cup lets actual cannabis consumers judge the best products in their region using a blind kit at home. Judges are selected for being experts on each product type (from flower including indica, sativa, and hybrid all the way to topicals and edibles), and their particular kit includes dozens of relevant local brand samples.

Just like doing an in-depth product review, these lucky cannasseurs judge and provide the details on a 1-5 scale, judging their aroma, look and feel, effects, taste, and burnability (as appropriate). Judges also include their thoughts for each entry.

In other words, HT is bringing the Cannabis Cup virtual in the time of coronavirus. (However, there are some aspects of the classic Cannabis Cup, such as Grower’s Choice awards, that add high value and cannot be replaced.)

Some Cannabis Cup Winners

There is no surefire way to determine the all-time winningest strain at the Cannabis Cup. However, there are several heavy hitting strains that have done a lot of winning over time:

  • Kosher Kush (2009, 2010, 2011, 2012)
  • Skunk #1 (First Cannabis Cup, 1998)
  • Super Lemon Haze (2008, 2009)
  • Super Silver Haze (1998, 1999)
  • White Widow (1995, 2014)
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