For the first time ever, High Times is bringing its Cannabis Cup competition to Massachusetts, giving cannabis connoisseurs across the state a chance to sample a selection of products and rank the best in the business.
“I’ve had grown men cry in my arms from finally winning a Cannabis Cup because they’ve been growing in the traditional market for 30 years and now they’re finally legal and they can finally submit into our competitions and get the recognition they feel they deserve after putting blood, sweat and tears into this for years and years and years,” said Mark Kaz, the director of competitions of High Times.
Anyone can be a judge in the “High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts: People’s Choice Edition” competition, which begins this month. Judges will pick up their kits, which are High Times branded backpacks replete with products, at selected retail locations on Aug. 21. From there, they’ll have roughly two months to judge and rank the entries.
The Cannabis Cup first started in the 1980s in Amsterdam. It came to the U.S. in the early 2000s, Kaz said, landing in California. The competition has also been held in locations including Michigan, Oregon, Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma and Arizona.
Now, the competition has landed in Massachusetts, where cannabis companies are submitting items for judging in the following categories:
- Indica Flower (Up to 28 1g entries per kit)
- Sativa Flower (Up to 28 1g entries per kit)
- Hybrid Flower (Up to 28 1g entries per kit)
- Pre-Rolls (Up to 10+ entries 1-2g per kit)
- Concentrates (Up to 10 .5g entries per kit)
- Sativa Vape Pens & Cartridges (Up to 10 .5g entries per kit)
- Indica Vape Pens & Cartridges (Up to 10 .5g entries per kit)
- Edibles Gummies (Up to 5-6 entries with 500mg THC max per kit)
- Edibles: Fruity Non-Gummies (Up to 5-6 entries with 500mg THC max per kit)
- Edibles: Chocolate Non-Gummies (Up to 5-6 entries with 500mg THC max per kit)
- Topicals + Tinctures + Capsules (Up to 10 entries with 100mg max per Capsules pack and 500mg max per tincture, per kit)
High Times is partnering with NETA to handle competition intake. From Aug. 9 through 11, cannabis companies that feel they have the best products will submit their items in retail-ready packaging. Backpacks are filled with items from each specific category. For example, there will be indica flower backpacks, each filled with a 1-gram sample from 28 different entries.
There will be about 2,000 kits, Kaz said. The kits will be distributed to the following dispensaries and available for judges to purchase on Aug. 21 at the opening time:
- NETA – 160 Washington St., Brookline
- NETA – 118 Conz St., Northampton
- Bud’s Goods – 64 W Boylston St., Worcester
- Bud’s Goods – 1540 Bedford St., Abington
- INSA – 462 Highland Ave., Salem
- INSA -122 Pleasant St. Suite 144, Easthampton
- INSA – 1200 W Columbus Ave., Springfield
- INSA – 506 Cottage St., Springfield (medical only)
- Stem Haverhill – 124 Washington St., Haverhill
- Northeast Alternatives (NEA) – 999 William S Canning Blvd., Fall River
- Western Front – 121 Webster Ave., Chelsea
- Major Bloom – 76 Millbury St., Worcester
- Native Sun Wellness – 37 Coolidge St., Hudson
- Pure Oasis – 430 Blue Hill Ave., Boston
- Alternative Therapies Group – 107 Elm St., Salisbury
- Caroline’s Cannabis – 640 Douglas St., Uxbridge
Judges will select kits of their choice from what is available at the dispensary. Backpacks are sold first-come-first-served.
While there is a website to receive updates on kit pricing, locations and other information, High Times does not require those interested in judging to receive approval or confirmation to get a kit. All they need to do is stop by a retail location to buy a backpack.
Kaz said High Times identifies the market value once all the product is in. Then, they typically slash the value by 20 to 40% depending on the category to “create a nice enticing price” for people interested in judging.
Once they have the backpack, judges will enter rankings for the products through an online portal. Judges have from Aug. 21 to Oct. 17 to try all their products and submit rankings.
High Times will tally up all the scores and hold a digital award show to announce the winners on Oct. 24. The award show will highlight the people who have “put their heart and soul” into creating products and showcase some judge comments, Kaz said.
Prizes include the Cannabis Cup, which Kaz describes as a “nice, hefty, beautifully designed trophy.” There is a first, second and third place winner for each category.
Past winners have said winning the cup helped them increase distribution, traffic or even Instagram followers, according to Kaz.
“People just recognize it as one of the most sought-after and globally recognized brands and trophies in the industry,” Kaz said.