Is The Cannabis Cup 2016 In Crisis?

Apparently smoking marijuana at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Denver is a “no no.” Is there an epidemic of rule breakers or just a few sour apples ruining it for all of us?

Feb 20, 2016

Adams County commissioners have unanimously denied permits for the 2016 High Times Denver Cannabis Cup. The commissioners and law enforcement representatives cited issues with safety and the prevalence of marijuana samples as the reasons for the denial. But what is a Cannabis Cup without marijuana?

 “Where tha weeeed at?”

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This week Adams County officials rejected permit requests from The Denver Merchandise Mart to host the 2016 High Times Denver Cannabis Cup. The commissioners listened to testimony from law enforcement officials who described the 2015 Cup as being too crowded and overrun with marijuana samples.

Last year, I attended the Cup as a vendor. My booth was there to promote the marijuana news industry and we had a lot of foot traffic. But one thing was clear—the majority of people were not at the cup to learn about marijuana news. Instead, attendees came to the Cup looking for marijuana samples and handouts. Of course, people were allowed to consume marijuana that they brought with them, but vendors were not allowed to sell or provide samples within the fences of the event.

The rules were not clearly defined. Within minutes of the start of the event, a booth from California had a line longer than the arm of the law. It caught my attention, so I walked over and investigated. They were selling grams of their marijuana that they had illegally transported over state lines on their way from California. In this lies the problem.

Access denied

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When Denver Mart co-owner John Doyle approached the Adams County commissioners this year he vowed to limit the daily attendance to just 15,000 people per day. Last year there were nearly 35,000 people in attendance each day, thus straining the limited resources of the Denver police. Further, Doyle pledged to provide more off-site parking in order to reduce the congestion surrounding the event—all in an effort to make the swarms of people more manageable for police.

After hearing Doyle’s side of the story, Commissioner Chaz Tedesco reminded the panel that Denver Mart officials had committed to remedying these issues after the inaugural 2014 Cup. The Commission agreed that the problems of 2014 were not fixed in 2015 and therefore they had little confidence that 2016 would be any different.

“From a safety perspective, I have serious concerns about this event and this venue,” Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh told the commission.

Sour diesel or sour apples?

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Crowd control seems to be the main issue as far as the Commission is concerned. They didn’t say that too many people were consuming marijuana, they said there were too many samples being provided.

North Metro Drug Task Force Cmdr. Todd Reeves said,” a military vet experienced breathing problems after sampling pot and a female jumped out of a moving vehicle.”

Look, a lady jumping out of a moving car is not normal marijuana user behavior—I don’t know of a smoker who has time for that, she was probably under the influence of other “things”. In the case of the veteran having breathing issues, I am sure he had breathing issues before hand. What did he expect? It was his prerogative to indulge in the smoke session—also his fault for going too hard.

Forever burned in my brain is the image of a Cup attendee who was riding in a motorized wheelchair breathing oxygen from her portable tank. I watched her remove the tubes from her nose in order to take a dab from a nearby booth. These are the folks who then turn around and blame the vendors for their health issues. Situations like these remind me of the time McDonalds was sued over hot coffee causing skin burns—what did you expect?

At the moment, the Cup is on hold, but the marijuana industry is resilient. I am sure there will be a petition and then an appeal. There are certainly issues with the Cup that need to be addressed, but I suspect the repercussions from outright denial of the event will be worse than the issues that arise from hosting the Cup in Denver.

Did you attend the Denver Cannabis Cup in past years? What did you experience? Do you have any suggestions that could make it better this year? Let us know on social media or in the comments section below.

Feb 20, 2016