Highlights of HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup in Denver 2012

Because it's all about the wellness, you see…

What a great event we just had in Denver, Colorado, the Cannabis Capital of America.  The 2nd Annual HIGH TIMES Medical Cannabis Cup was a big success at the Exdo Center, featuring a huge vendor area, a nice and cool seated presentation area, outside food vendors, and another vendor section in the “medication area”.

I was there specifically as the guest of Michael Kennedy, the longtime legal counsel and current Chair of HIGH TIMES Magazine.  He was impressed by my “Box Canyon” presentation at the 2010 NORML Conference, so much so that he required all the HIGH TIMES staff to watch it.  He paid my way to come out to Denver to update that presentation for the current political climate.  The HIGH TIMES staff have also seemed to take me in as “one of theirs” and I think you will be seeing a lot more of my writing in the magazine’s future.

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There was a bit of tension in the air, however.  Months back there was a very public falling-out between we here at National NORML and an attorney who used to head our Colorado NORML chapter.  He resigned and the chapter went dormant.  Turns out, his firm was handling the Cannabis Cup for HIGH TIMES (awkward!)

The outdoor portion of the Cannabis Cup

The situation that went down led to some parts of the Colorado cannabis community taking offense to our points-of-view that, yes, there are some unscrupulous individuals who make up a fraction of the cannabusiness community who take advantage of patients and scam the medical marijuana system.  I had one couple passive-aggressively “thanking” me and NORML for “throwing patients under the bus”.  I engaged them in polite conversation that eventually led to the lady saying that medical marijuana recommendations are between a doctor and patient, and if a doctor was giving out recs to someone who didn’t qualify, that’s a “doctor problem.”  ”Oh,” I pounced, “so you do agree with us that there are some actors in medical marijuana who are acting fraudulently and scamming the system?”

Later that first day, the most anticipated panel, “To Dab or Not to Dab”, was held, covering the quickly-evolving world of cannabis concentrates like hash and hash oil.

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Keith Stroup at the Warwick Hotel in Denver

That evening I had a fine dinner with Keith Stroup, with whom I shared a hotel room at the Warwick,  It has a nice balcony just for us to enjoy a joint and some conversation.  Garret Overstreet and another activist had driven down from Tulsa for 4/20, so we invited them up as well and just enjoyed the discussions.  Garret mentioned how Tulsa and Denver may be 12 hours drive apart, but might as well be in different galaxies when it comes to marijuana.  The Cup’s VIP party was going on that night, but after a day that began with two hours of sleep in San Antonio, a two-hour flight, and a whole day smoking and dabbing at the Cup, I was in for good.

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The next day was even more interesting.  GraayWolf and our other volunteers did a fine job manning the NORML booth, but we had run out of t-shirts and most other goods to sell by the first day.  We are definitely going to have to upgrade our booth and vending materials for these events!

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A joint on the balcony on a sunny Sunday morning in Denver

The highlight of my day was being approached by a woman named Kathleen Chippi (pronounced “Chip Eye”, I learned).  If you’ve read my blog, you know she’s a Denver activist whom I’ve called out on a number of occasions, most notably that she said “[the Colorado legalization initiative that has made the ballot] will be like Prop 19 all over again and we will kill it with smiles on our faces.”  She wanted to know why I called her a prohibitionist; I told her that when you lobby against legalization, you’re lobbying for prohibition.

Could I interest you in a grow closet?

And then I spent about thirty minutes of my life engaged in one of the most fascinating discussions ever, if by “fascinating” you mean it in the sense of trying to determine the difference between flawed circular logic with non-sequiturs and true mental illness.  It got quite heated, with us both raising our voices enough to attract attention.  The take-away from this encounter was asking her why all the dire predictions she had for legalizing one ounce and six plants for healthy people didn’t seem to be an issue in 2000 when she was voting on legalizing two ounces and six plants for sick people?  Then she dropped the bombshell that she opposed Amendment 20 (the Colorado medical marijuana law).  ”Really,” I asked, “if you could have convinced enough people to vote like you, against medical marijuana, do you think the patients would be better off today?” and she agreed that yes, they would, because nobody was really getting busted before Amendment 20, which has now over-regulated the market and put a target on patients for law enforcement.  That’s when I told her our conversation was over because that was a ridiculous statement in the context of the cannabis freedom we were enjoying right that minute at the Cup!

The crowd gathers to learn the winners of the Denver Medical Cannabis Cup

This encounter, by the way, was an hour before the panel I was on to demonstrate the “Box Canyon” hypothesis, so I was good and riled up for that.  Unfortunately, I had only one laptop – I failed to pack the power cord for the “good” one – and I didn’t get to record that panel.  I will find a copy from someone.  The panel was wonderful, but sure enough, Kathleen Chippi was there to heckle me.  I had to forcefully tell her to stop being rude, which drew applause from the audience.  After the panel, I got a steady stream of compliments from people who told me I clearly explained what the whole NORML position on medical marijuana is and it was nothing like the demonization they’d been hearing third-hand from some disgruntled activists.

Posing with covers of the two HIGH TIMES magazines my first two articles are in

The event concluded with the awarding of the prizes in the Cannabis Cup.  I was drafted to present the awards for Best Concentrates, an ironic nod to my current HIGH TIMES article on “The Dawn of the Dabs”.  Ganja Jon manned the stream for this part of the show from beneath DJ Selekta Nikka T’s platform.  The DJ had been pumping so much bass in the room that the winner’s medals were vibrating off the stage!

The evening concluded with a trip to the HIGH TIMES House and the after-party.  I’d write more if I could remember it.

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