I have just arrived home from spending the past two days at the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Francisco and I’m pretty sure I’m still high. It was a weekend filled with more cannabis, concentrates, edibles and paraphernalia than any one person could hope to consume or use (which doesn’t mean that I didn’t try) and, as always, I had an amazing time. The ultimate goal for vendors at every Cannabis Cup event is, of course, to win an award; it’s one of the most prestigious accolades one can receive for their product or brand in this community. However, the San Francisco Cup seemed to have one award that was the focus of the entire event – the battle for best booth between the undefeated champs, Vader Village and the challengers, Crown Town.
As with any good boxing match or fight, the hype before the showdown was going full blast. In the weeks leading up to the Cup social media was awash with jabs being thrown back and forth between the opposing camps and, as it always happens, things eventually got personal. The ugliness came into full effect on Instagram over the weekend with both sides firing final shots at each other. With all of the heat finally coming to a full boil, I had to make a concentrated effort to ignore the drama (difficult since I make no secret of the fact that I am fully in the Vader camp) and to see what the other vendors were all about before the battle for best booth really got going.
Walking around each Cup, I’m always amazed at the creativity of stoners, especially since the community as a whole has been branded with the stigma of being lazy and unproductive. One booth, The Consortium, had one of the most visually interesting booths out there with flames and a massive joint on top that had a consistent stream of smoke issuing from it. There was also a booth for Dank Darts, a new game that integrates social smoking with interactive game-play. When I get the chance to see things like this, I realize that it’s really been a pleasure seeing the evolution of the cannabis community over the past few years. Back in 2009 when I really started paying attention, it was difficult to even find apparel that was marijuana-related and now there are companies cropping up every day with new concepts that seamlessly integrate cannabis into mainstream business.
If you’ve read anything I’ve written before, you already know that I’m all about the food at every event I go to and there were definite highs and lows to this weekend. On the low end was the non-medicated food. Although the wait to eat is regularly upward of an hour when food trucks are brought in, there are usually some really interesting and delicious choices. Yet from what I saw this time, I assume that the venue the Cannabis Cup was held at, the Cow Palace, did not allow outside food vendors. The only selections available were those offered by the venue-sanctioned vendors and were decidedly uninspired – pizza, pretzels and polish dogs. On the other hand, the medicated food that was available was all over the spectrum and it was a real trial for my self-restraint. The medicated hot wings and lemonade from @datniggagrows – with both the wings and lemonade available in multiple flavors – alone could have kept me satisfied for the entire weekend (although I would have just passed out between meals). I also have to be careful around the Honey Pot and Tiki Killers booths. The honey sticks and gummies from these companies are literally so fucking good that I will continuously snack on them without even realizing that they’re medicated until it’s too late.
Once I had gotten my fill of what the other vendors were offering, I focused on what was going on between Vader Village and Crown Town. Placed at opposite ends of the venue and boasting the two biggest booths/stages at the event, it was actually really difficult for me to tell if one group was doing better than the other or if there was just constant crowd fluctuation based on who was doing giveaways – that is, until Sunday rolled around. As I said earlier, I am Team Vader; simply because their host is my significant other and because I feel like the people running the companies there are genuinely working for the patients. But make no mistake; I definitely have friends in the Crown group as well and under no circumstances would I wish them anything but the best of luck. In fact, the hosts of the Crown stage, @mrsexcellence420 and @pissingexcellence, and I go way back, having met years ago – outside of the cannabis world and at a wedding, no less. But I can say with total honesty that once Sunday rolled around, Vader’s experience showed and gave them a very distinct advantage.
From the time they started on Sunday until it was almost time for the awards, the Vader area had a massive crowd and non-stop giveaways. Their line-up alone was ridiculous, with acts like Fortunate Youth, WC and West Coast legend DJ Quik, just to name a few. But what really put them ahead, at least in my opinion, was the fact that they refused to stop the show, even when the police showed up to shut them down. I don’t know the complete details of the situation – and I doubt anyone in either camp really does – but by mid-afternoon, the Crown stage had been shut down and the Vader stage was being threatened with the same. Rumor on the street was that it had something to do with the performers hired, their gang affiliations and the area we were in; however, I am distinctly unqualified to offer an opinion on any of that as I am so not about that life. Regardless of the reason, Vader Village rode the threats of being shut down and/or being arrested until the very end, literally forcing the event staff and the police to cut off the generator and lock it up. And even after that, these guys still kept going, partying it up with the crowds and continuing to do giveaways. Despite law enforcement standing a few feet away, they even lit up a life-size 1 pound AK-47 blunt that Greenwolf Los Angeles had specially made by @weavers_. There are plenty of rumors going around about each camp trying to sabotage each other but to my knowledge, the explanation wasn’t anything so interesting or underhanded; it was simply a more experienced team who truly enjoys what they do – and it showed. They are, after all, the people’s champs and took home the Best Booth award.
All in all, it was just another weekend at the High Times Cannabis Cup – a few people won awards and some people lost; some are really happy with the way they spent their time and money and others are not; friends were both gained and lost. Meanwhile, the only constants are that the High Times Cannabis Cup will endure and, let’s be honest, most of us are probably going to be at the next one. A decade ago we weren’t even able to have events like this and I for one am appreciative that we’re even allowed to participate in them now. So while the competition and drama is all fun and games, next time I’d rather focus more on having a good time and enjoying these events together. After all, winning a Cup isn’t everything; but being able to gather, celebrate and get high together kind of is.