In 2018, the High Times Cannabis Cup celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Cannabis Cup is the first event organized in the cannabis world and is pretty much considered like a pilgrimage for amateurs who wish to try out some of the best weeds in the world.
In 1988, Steven Hager, a counterculture journalist who had made a name for himself covering the birth of hip-hop in New York, became the editor of High Times Magazine. He helped eliminate hard drugs such as cocaine and heroin from the pages of the magazine, and instead put all his focus on the culture, lifestyle and cultivation of cannabis.
As a cannabis enthusiast, Hager had made numerous trips to Amsterdam, making long-time friends along the way, and regularly sent High Times journalists to the Netherlands. It was during one of these trips that the idea of a competition between cannabis growers was born to see who could grow the best herb.
A team of expert judges would sample the best cannabis grown in the Netherlands and award the High Times Cannabis Cup to the grower with the best strain. It was only natural for Amsterdam to host such an event, as it was literally the only place in the world where it could legally take place.
The very first High Times Cannabis Cup was held in November 1988 in a reception room above a bar in Amsterdam. Comprised of a small group of experts judging only a limited number of varieties, the juri elected the Skunk #1 of Cultivators Choice, who thus won the honors to become the first winner of the Cannabis Cup.
The following editions were substantially similar in terms of results and media reach. Other awards were added such as the best Sativa, best Indica and best Hybrid, as well as prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in each group.
But the news spread quickly, and more than 800 people showed up for the sixth edition of the High Times Cannabis Cup. The Cup has become a real attraction in just a few years.
With the addition of the Coffee Shop Cup, the contest actually opened to the public. Amsterdam coffee shops had long cultivated their own strains and could now compete for the best weed. This edition was also open to the public vote!
By the 2000s, the Cup had become too big and famous to keep going as a family business. As the legalization of recreational cannabis use evolved in other parts of the world, the exclusivity of the Amsterdam Cannabis Cup was coming to an end. The growing uncertainty about the future of Dutch cannabis legislation and an ill-fated police raid in 2010 made the possibilitly of other Cannabis Cups in Amsterdam more and more difficult.
Since then, the High Times Cannabis Cup has moved to the New World and spawned a whole series of new competitions held in many different cities, but always with the same goal of rewarding cannabis of the best quality!