The year 2020 might have been an epic fail, but at least some fire cannabis still shined.
It was clear in March, as long-standing 4/20 events were canceled or postponed, that the usual slew of cannabis competitions—High Times’ Cannabis Cup, The Emerald Cup, Harvest Cup—could not happen; at least in the traditional sense. So they pivoted, democratizing the voting process, or holding remote judging.
This year, High Times’ Events Director Mark Kazinec helped organize the first national Hemp Cup and three “People’s Choice” Cannabis Cups in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Colorado, with three in the works for Oregon, Arizona, and Southern California early next year.
Instead of curating a select group of celebrity judges, Cup kits shipped to dispensaries across each state, allowing for thousands of regular degular people to share their opinions on the best their state had to offer.
“We wanted to make this competition and the chances to be a judge more accessible, and bring some fun to a dark world this year,” says Kazinec. “Why not allow people to buy amazing products we curate? The people’s choice is all to the people; it’s not just for the OGs. We also want the soccer moms who want topicals, the people who are going to dispensaries.”
Despite the constraints that made traditional gatherings impossible—the circus-like tents, and fairgrounds to smoke, dab, vape, or eat cannabis with thousands of other fans—cannasseurs around the nation and the world remained committed to judging and crowning the best buds in the business.
While we wait in California until 2021 for a postponed Emerald Cup, here’s where to shop 2020’s most lauded cultivars, extracts, brands, and much more.
Originating from Colorado, The Grow-Off competition uses one cultivar to determine who can cultivate the dankest of the dank. This year, they partnered with leading breeders Cannarado to see who could grow the terpiest, stoniest, most high-quality nugs of Spritzer, a new cross between a Runtz mom and a Grape Pie x Capulator MAC dad.
Look out for Colorado growers Hummingbird Cannabis, who nabbed Best Overall Quality (and third for Potency).
Also, stuff your basket with the brand Fat Face Farms—they cinched both the terpenes and potency categories.
Grow-Off trophies also went to the same categories for non-commercial home growers; although to sample those you may need to know a guy.
- You can find Hummingbird Cannabis at The Farm in Boulder.
- And Fat Face Farms at Rocky Mountain Cannabis in the towns of Dinosaur, and Craig. (Yes, those are Colorado town names.)
Moving on, The High Times Cannabis Cup Colorado: People’s Choice 2020 contest had three categories for flower, two for edibles, and one apiece for concentrates, topicals, and prerolls.
High Country Cones won Best Pre-Roll for one colorfully dubbed, ahem, French Wh*re.
- Grab Indico products at Lucy Sky Cannabis Boutique in Denver and The Canna Cabinet in Pueblo, CO.
- Pagosa Therapeutics Jabberwocky comes from own grow and dispensary in Pagosa Springs, CO.
Competition remains stiff in California, and it shows the diversity of winners for this year’s WEEDCon.
And in a unique category, Oaksterdam OG by the brand Originals won Best OG Kush Flower.
- Top Shelf Cultivation sells at Roots Dispensary in Sun Valley, CA; and Downtown Patient Group in Los Angeles.
- Mohave Reserve sells through Connected in Sacramento, all the way down to The Growery in Los Angeles.
- Honeydew Farms sells statewide, including Mankind Dispensary in San Diego, Greenhouse Herbal Center in Hollywood, andJingletown Cannabis Club in Oakland, CA.
- Oaksterdam OG retails at the Originals Factory and Store in Los Angeles.
The results of Oregon’s High Times People’s Cup got pushed back until January, but outdoor growers in Washington state had the Sun Cup.
Melonade by Cascadia Cartel won best Solventless Concentrate.
“We were really excited to do so well,” says CannaSol founder Jeremy Moberg, who initially proposed the Sun Cup to the Washington Sungrowers Industry Association as a fundraiser. “We basically swept the flower category and we feel super proud.”
A statewide Craft Cannabis Cup for small-scale indoor growers comes in January 2021.
- CannaSol products appear across Washington in retailers like Buddy’s in Renton, The Novel Tree in Bellevue, American Mary – Ballard, and The Reef in Seattle.
Also, don’t sleep on any of The Oregon Grower’s Cup 2020 winners, including: Fenario Farms; Alter Farms; Luvli; plus, the Decibel Banana Punch and GMO rosins; and Blueberry Muffin greenhouse flower by Grateful Greenery.
Illinois—make some noise
In Illinois’ first Cannabis Cup, one brand proved themselves a cut above the rest. Revolution Global won gold in every category except edibles, where they took third place. Their best buds of the year? Turbo Lemon Cake, Gorilla’d Cheese, and Florida Orange, the latter of which also won the vape category for the company’s Terp Tanks. You can find these winners at The Herbal Care Center in Chicago and New Age Care in Mount Prospect.
- Bhang bars are sold in California and Incredibles in Colorado, as well as in Illinois at Maribis of Chicago in, yes, Chicago, and The Dispensary in Fulton.
New England/ East Coast represent
The Garden State is looking a lot greener going into 2021. As New Jersey prepares for the recreational market, the New England Harvest Cup held their fourth competition remotely with a streamed awards ceremony. Joe Merkt and Shamanic Roots won the Sativa and Indica categories for creamy lemon Bonkers and Rasta Pie, respectively.
Most of the Harvest Cup categories skipped flowers, and showcase products you won’t find in California. Edible and topical brand Mary Palmer took home a majority of the awards in their categories, with standout products like 24K Truffle Oil and 911 Salve. Their THC-infused pickles also won best edibles at the Maine-based Pheno Cup.
Outstanding in Oklahoma
Oklahoma led the way in 2020 with the first High Times People’s Choice Cup in June, paving the way for a new slew of cannabis competitions across the country.
ALTVM’s Lilac Diesel won for Sativa flower. ALTVM also partnered with Leaf Logic to win gold for dabbables with a solventless Garlic Breath (GMO X Mendo Breath).
- Exotic Genetix have landed at Barbary Coast Dispensary in San Francisco, California, and Cookies in Oklahoma City.
- ALTVM retails at Electraleaf locations across Oklahoma state.
Covid canceled Spannabis this year, but promoters still held a (not so) Secret Cup! Secret Cup Bizkaia streamed their seven-hour award ceremony on Youtube in lieu of an in-person gathering. The best flowers in Basque country were:
Standout extracts came in the form of:
- Banana Split diamond sauce from Backyard Barcelona x Team Flavours Hunting
- Key Lime Pie water hash from woman-run Aisha Sheriff
- Aranua’s Strawpicanna (Tropicanna Cookies x Strawnana) rosin.
Parting shot: Hemp hitters
Unlike the Cannabis Cup, the High Times’ 2020 Hemp Cup invited growers and manufacturers coast to coast to square up, and they did. The best hemp flower of the year was Hawaiian Haze Hemp by Gold Standard CBD. Magu’s Nectar won best vape with Luxury Hemp Live Resin Lot #LR001, and Grön’s 135mg Truffles won best edibles.