Denver hosted its first High Times Cannabis Cup on April 20th, 2014 and the new location for the event changed the legendary feel of the cup for many Americans. For the first time it was realistic for the farmer in Iowa who loves getting stoned on his tractor, the hoodrat from Oklahoma who has as many books about growing as a modern scholar, or the straight laced businessman who hits the joint behind the bar with new acquaintances to come together. The event simply brought people together to share in ideas and cannabis.
For the last two years the Denver High Times Cannabis Cup has brought thousands of people to learn that the permit for the Cup was rejected a mere two months before April 20th, leading High Times magazine on a mad dash to find a new venue. Matt Stang, the director of advertising and sponsorship for High Times, tried to put a good spin on the the new venue, known as The Yard in Pueblo:
“We’re super-excited to be back in Colorado doing it bigger and better — and on a bigger piece of land than before”
These complications follow the pattern of the Cannabis Cup in recent years. Cities and counties have individual laws governing marijuana and it can be a chore to find a venue that will work with all levels of a state’s government. Last year’s Seattle Cannabis Cup was cancelled by the most unlikely party, the Washington state liquor board. Many private venues have liquor licenses and run the risk of losing them if marijuana is used on the premises. Not only that but High Times also had to apply for a liquor license and special event permit, which was refused. The contradicting and overlapping laws mean hard times for pot lovers in the northwest.
Even the international events High Times hosts have been hitting road blocks. The 2014 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam was an absolute disaster, being cancelled the night before it began, ruining thousands of travelers’ weeks and wasting their money. But it’s okay, right? They opened on the second day of the event, right? Yes, with new, strict regulations that convinced many people to not even show up.
When the event started reports of plainclothes officers peppered in the crowd and taking pictures added a dark hue to the rest of the event, a glorified t-shirt sales event.
On April 3rd of last year, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division, or MED, issued a memo that told event goers and vendors of laws prohibiting the sale or sampling of marijuana outside of a dispensary. Many business were shocked, unsure about what to do. When the event started reports of plainclothes officers peppered in the crowd and taking pictures added a dark hue to the rest of the event, a glorified t-shirt sales event.
So what about the move to Pueblo? That has been cancelled by High Times for being a logistical nightmare to set up in two months. Hopefully lawmakers and event coordinators will come to an accord that will work for everyone, but the undeniable pattern is that as marijuana becomes more accepted and official, so do the regulations by the government. High Times plans to hold another event in California, right on the coattails of the 2016 SoCal Medical Cannabis Cup.