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A Guide to The Cannabis Cup

cannabis cup

A Guide to The Cannabis Cup

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How do you know whether a strain is trending or a top pick?

Some strains just have that reputation. But new cannabis strains are bred every day. Grease Monkey, for example, is a relatively new strain on the market that has made big strides for both growers and consumers. The indica-dominant hybrid is a hot item in the Speed Greens catalog, and for good reason. Its reputation is backed by the fact that it comes from an award-winning grower, Exotic Genetix.

Among the awards won by Exotic Genetix is an award for the Best Indica at the 2017 High Times SoCal Harvest Cannabis Cup. 

Hmm…Cannabis Cup. Doesn’t that sound familiar? 

If you’ve done your research on strains, you’ve probably seen awards and distinctions like this listed. If a grower or a strain has won a title at the Cannabis Cup, you know that it’s going to be mentioned. The Cannabis Cup seems to be the Olympics of cannabis – and it is!

The Cannabis Cup is the premier event for cannabis enthusiasts around the world. Consumers, growers, and cannabis businesses all gather together at Cannabis Cups (there’s more than one each year!) to celebrate the best new products on the market and innovations in the cannabis industry. 

Even if you’re new to cannabis, we recommend checking out Cannabis Cup events and possibly making a road trip down to enjoy a weekend in the States for the event. The accessibility to cannabis and its elevation from dirty counterculture drug to hip wellness cure has definitely changed the nature of the cup in the past 30+ years, but this is still the place to check out the best pot that money can buy. 

What Is The Cannabis Cup

What Is The Cannabis Cup?

The High Times Cannabis Cup has been the premier cannabis festival since its beginnings in 1988. The Cup began in Amsterdam. Cannabis enthusiasts from around the world not only to check out the city’s notorious coffee shops, but also to see what strains took top prizes. 

The highlight of the event is the awards ceremony. A panel of international judges come to the Cannabis Cup to sample and distribute awards for the best in cannabis. Flower, edibles, and hash are all considered (but we’ll talk more about the categories later.) Growers take home the prizes for strains that you might have smoked before, or that were just introduced to the market. If a new strain wins a Cannabis Cup prize, you can guarantee that everyone will want to get their hands on it.

But it’s not just a contest. It’s not just a trade show, either. The Cannabis Cup is a celebration of cannabis. Guests can attend seminars on the future of cannabis and watch top cannabis chefs work their magic. There are products to sample and products to buy throughout the entire event, which takes place over the course of a weekend. Icons in the counterculture were inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame every year during the Cannabis Cup. 

You can listen to live music and you may even bump into a few celebrities here and there. Notable performers from just this past year have included Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Busta Rhymes, and Ice Cube. Tommy Chong was signing autographs and enjoying his 81st birthday at the SoCal Cannabis Cup this year. 

Watch The Cannabis Cup for Yourself

Want to relive the experience of the Cannabis Cup for yourself? Check out this documentary from the 2003 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. It’s available on Vimeo. A documentary on the 20th anniversary of the cup is also available on YouTube. 

Is The Cannabis Cup Still Held In Amsterdam?

Unfortunately, no. 2014 was the last year for the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup. Things got pretty uneasy after the police raided the 2010 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. Police confiscated everyone’s buds, although no one was arrested or fined for possession of marijuana. 2010 was the same year that the United States hosted its first Cannabis Cup event. Sure, it was a Medical Cannabis Cup, and not all activity was exactly legal. But it kickstarted the transition to the United States hosting the Cannabis Cup(s) each year. 

Eleven states have legalized recreational marijuana, so High Times has plenty of options for hosting Cannabis Cup events and bringing this celebration all over the country. There’s not just one Cannabis Cup event anymore. If you miss one, you can always catch another. 

But not all Cannabis Cups are guaranteed every year. 

Where Does the Cannabis Cup Take Place Now

In 2013 (during 4/20, no less,) Denver opened its doors to the first-ever legal Cannabis Cup that allowed participants to indulge in recreational and medicinal marijuana. The event continued to take place until 2016, when city permits got in the way of the fun. But don’t worry. If you want to celebrate cannabis on 4/20 in Denver, you have options. 

The Cannabis Cup took place for three years in Seattle, but had to put off the event in 2015 due to obstacles involving the state liquor board and finding a venue that wasn’t closely tied to federal funding. 

In 2018, the state of Alaska hosted its first Cannabis Cup. No word on whether the tradition will continue. 

One state has been consistent in holding Cannabis Cups year after year. As of 2019, California is king for holding Cannabis Cup events. It appears that it will hold that title for many years to come. 

Where Does the Cannabis Cup Take Place Now?

Thousands of people pour into Cannabis Cup events throughout the United States. In 2019, Cannabis Cups were held in:

  • The Bay Area
  • Michigan
  • Northern California
  • Southern California
  • Central Valley

Four out of five of those events were held in California. The state was the first to legalize medical cannabis (all the way back in 1996.) It legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2016. 

There was also an Indigenous Cannabis Cup event that took place this year in Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Ontario. It was the second year of the festival. This event is not held by High Times magazine, but also features workshops, demonstrations, and awards.

Bay Area Cannabis Cup Winners 2019

Bay Area Cannabis Cup Winners 2019

The categories for Cannabis Cup cover everything from flower to edibles to general cannabis products. First, second, and third place winners are announced for each category. 

Here’s a little taste of the cannabis cup categories and what is trending in 2019. These are just some of the results from the latest Cannabis Cup event, which took place in the Bay Area on June 22-23: 

Indica Flower 

1st Place: Dimepiece from C.R.A.F.T 

2nd Place: Whoa-Si-Whoa from TopShelf Cultivation

3rd Place: Grape Jelly Donut from North Country Pharms

Sativa Flower 

1st Place: Mother’s Milk from Sovereign 

2nd Place: J1 from Team Elite Genetics 

3rd Place:  Super Lemon Haze from C.R.A.F.T.

Hybrid Flower 

1st Place: Z Cube from Caliva

2nd Place: Sasquatch Sap from 3C Farms 

3rd Place: Sour Girl from C.R.A.F.T.

Sungrown Flower 

1st Place: Granpa’s T.I.T.S from Granpa’s 

2nd Place: Lava Cake from Lithouse 

3rd Place: Venom OG from Honeydew Farms

Bay Area Cannabis Cup Winners Indica Concentrates 

Indica Concentrates 

1st Place: Pac Girl Live Resin from Pacific Reserve x Summit Boys 

2nd Place: Zkittles Live Resin from URSA Extracts

3rd Place: Banana Punch Refined Live Resin Diamonds from Raw Garden

Sativa Concentrates

1st Place: Italian Soda Live Resin Sauce from Raw Garden

2nd Place: Rose Water Live Sauce from Raw Garden

3rd Place: Cherry AK Live Resin Sugar from Cresco Labs

Hybrid Concentrates

1st Place: Wedding Crasher #18 from Apex Extractions x Poseidon Estate

2nd Place: Pacific Forbidden Banana Live Resin from Pacific Reserve x Summit Boys

3rd Place: Gelato Live Resin from Noble Farms x Summit Boys 


1st Place: Golden State Banana Preroll from Loadedco

2nd Place: XXX OG Pre-Roll from Sovereign

3rd Place: Cannarillo from Cuba Libre x Fig Farms

Infused Product 

1st Place: Mother’s Milk Solventless Geode from Sovereign / Emerald Genetics 

2nd Place: XXX OG Solventless Geode from Sovereign / Emerald Genetics 

3rd Place: Trance from Lola Lola

Bay Area Cannabis Cup Winners Edibles


1st Place: Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups from Incredimeds

2nd Place: Spearmint Cannabis Infused Mints from Loudpack

3rd Place: Red Jellie from Key

Vape Pen and Cartridge 

1st Place: Orange Cookie Pie Cart from Raw Garden

2nd Place: Extreme Punch Cart from Raw Garden

3rd Place: Alien Rock Candy from Apex Extractions: Pinnacle Vape


1st Place: Nana’s Cooling from C.A.D.

2nd Place: Transdermal Compound 1:1 from Mary’s Medicinals 

3rd Place: – Mimosa Roll-ON from C.A.D.

CBD Flower 

1st Place: Forbidden Fruit X EVE from Eve Farms

2nd Place: CBD OG from C.R.A.F.T.

3rd Place:  AC/OG 2:1 from 3C Farms

Bay Area Cannabis Cup Winners CBD Flower

Upcoming 2019 Cannabis Cup Events

There is one last Cannabis Cup event that you can hit up this summer. Canadians who want to experience the fun and excitement of the event are in luck; this last Cannabis Cup is in Detroit! The Midwest, specifically Michigan, is quickly becoming the second home for Cannabis Cup events. 

The 2019 Detroit Cannabis Cup takes place this summer on August 17 and 18. Unlike the Michigan Cannabis Cup, you won’t have to head outside of the city to attend the event. The Cannabis Cup takes place at the Russell Industrial Center right in downtown Detroit. Performers haven’t been announced as of late June. 

In November 2018, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis for adults over the age of 21. You can enjoy all the fun of cannabis while you’re at the event and within the state of Michigan, but be careful once it’s time to hop over the border. Bringing cannabis in or out of Canada will still get you in trouble. 

How Can I Attend? 

Have you been convinced? Are you ready to watch a cannabis chef in action or see Wu-Tang Clan after a long day of sampling cannabis products? Want to experience the Cannabis Cup for yourself? Click here!

Remember, the United States does things a little differently. You can attend the event as an 18-year old only if you have a medical card. Adults must be 21 or older to enjoy the event recreationally (or have a beer after the event is over.) 

Single day tickets start from 40 USD (53 CAD,) with weekend passes starting at 90 USD (120 CAD.) That’s not too shabby. VIP tickets are also available, but even if you just get General Admission tickets, you’ll still have plenty of cannabis products to sample and events to attend. 

Stay Updated With News on 2020 Cannabis Cup Events 

Don’t have enough time to hit up the Cannabis Cup in Detroit? There is always next year. Keep yourself in the loop so you can plan your road trip to the States (or flight to other parts of the world) and grab tickets to the Cannabis Cup of your choice. 

Keep up with High Times on their social media channels: 

If you’re not into the social media nonsense, check up on the High Times website for information on future events and exhibits. You can also order issues of the High Times magazine – you know, if you really don’t like the Internet. High Times magazine is available in a print or digital subscription.

Other Cannabis Events to Look Out For

Other Cannabis Events to Look Out For

The Cannabis Cup is the most famous cannabis event throughout the world, but it’s not the only one. Now that cannabis is gaining attention from investors and big corporations, more people want to know how they can get involved and what is coming next to the industry. 

Even bigger conferences like SXSW are starting to add seminars and discuss innovations in the cannabis industry. Stay updated with industry leaders like High Times to see when cannabis will be included in larger events throughout the United States and Canada. 

Get to know these other cannabis events for more opportunities to try out top strains, learn more about cannabis, and share your love of this plant with others. 

  • Emerald Cup
  • DOPE cup 
  • CannaTech
  • MJBizCon
  • Hall of Flowers
  • Lift & Co. Cannabis Expo

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Comments (5)

  • Brooke Young

    As a person who uses cannabis to treat a medical condition, it’s nice to have the variety of the strains and concentrates to allow me to get back to what I enjoy doing!

    July 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm
  • Natasha Stanley

    Oh wow wish I could go check this out! Sounds amazing :)

    July 12, 2019 at 4:14 pm
  • fishermandan420

    We need a Canadian Cup!

    July 12, 2019 at 4:35 am
  • TerpX

    bring the cannabis cup to Canada and give some of dat Speed greens FIYA!!!

    July 11, 2019 at 9:33 pm
  • Sashank Narayanan

    Wow! Great and informative article.

    July 11, 2019 at 12:45 pm

Comments are closed.