Today, there are several High Times Cannabis Cup events around the world exalting the best the industry has to offer. But the OG Cup is the one first held in Amsterdam, over 30 years ago. It’s been a long journey, both for the Cup and for cannabis on a global scale. As we prepare to return to Amsterdam July 13-15, let’s take a look back at how we got here.

Cannabis Cup was founded by High Times’ then-editor-in-chief Steven Hager, who was inspired by stories of NorCal harvest festivals at which growers would get together and compare that year’s crops. Hager had previously traveled to the Netherlands in 1986 to write a feature on cannabis breeder Nevil Schoenmakers, who founded the first cannabis seedbank, and his infamous ‘cannabis castle.’

While the United States has made great strides in legalization in various states, it’s still rare to find a place where you can both buy and then immediately enjoy your flower. However, recreational consumption of cannabis in “coffeeshops” has been tolerated in the Netherlands since 1976. Amsterdam has the highest concentration of these shops, with well over 100 operating today. The ability to consume within these social environments—without fear of persecution—was one of the chief reasons why Amsterdam was chosen as the site of the very first competition in 1988, and it remains a huge draw for attendees today.

Welcome to Amsterdam, Birthplace of the Cannabis Cup

High Times

High Times Senior Cultivation Editor Danny Danko first attended a Cannabis Cup in the late 90s when working a booth for a hemp company. Since 2000, he’s been to a dozen or so Amsterdam Cannabis Cups, and has occasionally co-hosted the awards ceremony. He says he can still remember the freedom he felt his first time in Amsterdam.

“I ordered cannabis from a menu and then just sat down, rolled a joint, and had a cup of coffee and a smoke,” Danko said. “It was quite an emotional experience for me. You think about all the times [people] were kicked out of a venue or mistreated, or went to jail or were separated from their families. All these instances due to the war on [cannabis], and you finally find an oasis where you can actually relax.”

Kyle Kushman, veganic cannabis cultivator and former High Times cultivation editor, attended his first Cannabis Cup in 1994, during which he—a self-described “young upstart” at the time—advocated for organic growing over hydroponic with veteran cannabis growers Arjan Roskam of Green House and Positronics’ Wernard Bruining.

He recalls baking a batch of special cookies for the 12-hour flight, before landing in Amsterdam for the first time.

“Getting off the plane at Schiphol airport and realizing I was somewhere where cannabis was not illegal, I felt like Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals. They call themselves that because the only law they break is they smoke cannabis, and that’s how I’d always felt. And here I was in this land that wasn’t going to consider me a criminal,” Kushman said. “And let me tell you, that first joint I smoked in a coffeeshop, I cried. And I’m not the only one.”

While today’s events feature an expo, concerts, panels, and educational events on top of the actual competition, the early days of the Cannabis Cup were much quieter. The first Cup consisted of only a handful of seed companies, judged by a small panel of experts. Among them was cannabis grower and advocate Ed Rosenthal, who was then employed as a High Times columnist and flew over specifically for the event. Cultivator’s Choice’s Skunk No. 1 took the top honors that year. After that, Schoenmakers bought out Cultivator’s Choice and won the Cup the following two years.

Welcome to Amsterdam, Birthplace of the Cannabis Cup

High Times

In the cup’s fourth year, the event transitioned into more of a coffeeshop crawl with establishments entering their own prized strains. This was due to the DEA’s Operation Green Merchant, which launched in 1989 under President George Bush. The operation, in part, targeted seed companies, which drove them underground. Adam Dunn of T.H. Seeds helped to orchestrate the first public expo and coffee shop crawl.

The addition of coffeeshop entrants prompted one of the event’s most significant and enduring changes: seed companies and coffeeshops were split into separate categories, and the public was now allowed to participate in judging the latter. That year, some 50 civilian judges cast their votes, ultimately choosing Free City’s Skunk as the winner.

Cannabis aficionados can still come to the Cup and cast their votes by purchasing a 3-day Judges Pass for €200.00 ($231), which includes access to the expo and awards, as well as all concerts, educational events, and podcasts. These passes do not guarantee free samples from coffeeshops, so guests should be prepared to purchase the strains they want to try.

Danko said that for these guests, the power to vote on coffeeshop strains provides a tangible way to shape the future of the industry, in part because winning a Cup can be a serious game changer for a company.

Welcome to Amsterdam, Birthplace of the Cannabis Cup

Danny Danko; High Times

“Many coffeeshops and seed companies were made by winning the Cannabis Cup,” Danko said. “They put themselves on the map, literally, and the next year, everyone had to stop at that shop and get what they were selling. Fortunes and legacies have been made.”

Coffeeshops Green House and Barney’s are two such shops which, according to Danko, have become well-known thanks to their multiple wins and their continued rivalry over the coveted Cup. This keeps their shops full, even when the Cannabis Cup is over. Seed companies who got their start by winning a Cup include U.S.-based Rare Dankness Seed and U.K.-based Big Buddha Seeds. And what’s good for them is also good for the consumer, as it pushes cannabis companies to achieve greater heights.

“The desire to win a Cannabis Cup made people hungry to find new flavors, new potency, and new varieties that would help them win, and that’s improved the quality of cannabis worldwide,” Danko said.

Danko named a series of popular strains that have emerged or improved via the competition, including the frosty White Widow (Green House, 1995), and, more recently, Tangie (Seed Company Sativa, 2013). High Times Chief Revenue Officer Matt Stang also points to DNA Genetics, whose 2004 win in the Indica category for their L.A. Confidential strain launched their company. They have since gone on to win over 150 accolades and have operations in Amsterdam, California, Chile, and Canada.

“The Cannabis Cup has defined high-quality cannabis and created the concept of cannabis brands over the last 30 years,” Stang said. “As an attendee, you have the opportunity to find and pick the best product in the world to launch the new best cannabis.”

You don’t necessarily have to be a cannabis company to take home a prize. In 1997, the Counterculture Hall of Fame was founded to, according to Hager, “celebrate the history of the counterculture by recognizing its saints.” Some inductees accept their award in person, while others are represented by members of their family or estate.

The legendary Bob Marley was the Hall of Fame’s first inductee, posthumously, and his award was accepted by his wife, Rita. Other recipients have included beatnik writers Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs in 1999; Bob Dylan and Joan Baez in 2003; “Emperor of Hemp” Jack Herer in 2003; Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin in 2007; reggae musician Peter Tosh in 2008; High Times founder Thomas King Forcade in 2009; and New York rapper Coke La Rock in 2010. The first woman to be inducted was midwife Ina May Gaskin in 2000, who founded Tennessee commune The Farm Midwifery Center. Hager, the man who started it all, was inducted in 2012.

The nights leading up to these awards are full of musical experiences, all hosted at Melkweg (Dutch for “Milky Way”), a former milk factory that’s been operating as a venue since the 1970s. The concerts are always a highlight of the event, and past acts have included Fishbone, Cypress Hill, MF Doom, and Redman. This year’s Cup will see Afroman, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Ty Dolla $ign, Waka Flocka, OG Maco, Berner, and The Original Wailers.

Welcome to Amsterdam, Birthplace of the Cannabis Cup

High Times

“Not everybody gets to go on vacation these days. You save or you plan for a long time, and [going to the Cannabis Cup] is a really big vacation,” Kushman said. “You get to celebrate your culture and your pseudo-religion along with your vacation. It’s like a pilgrimage to Mecca or the Wailing Wall; it’s really a spiritual place for cannabiphiles.”

This year’s Cannabis Cup is July 13-15 in Amsterdam (the first year it’s been held in the summer instead of in November). Tickets are €70.00 for a single-day pass or €200.00 for all three days. Find more info here.

The post Welcome to Amsterdam, Birthplace of the Cannabis Cup appeared first on High Times.

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1. What is CBD? What is CBD Oil?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a naturally occurring constituent of industrial hemp/cannabis. Its formula is C21H30O2 and it has a molecular mass of 314.4636. It is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis, and is being scientifically investigated for various reasons.

CBD oil is a cannabis oil (whether derived from marijuana or industrial hemp, as the word cannabis is the latin genus name for both) that has significant amounts of cannabidiol (CBD) contained within it. Our CBD products and extracts are derived from industrial hemp, so they could be considered CBD-rich hemp oil, hemp derived CBD oil, CBD-rich cannabis oil, or plainly “hemp extracts” since they typically contain much more than just CBD. Again, cannabis doesn’t mean marijuana, but is the genus name, and general umbrella term which all forms of marijuana and hemp fall under. The form of cannabis we use for our CBD and hemp extracts is industrial hemp; we do not sell marijuana.

2. If a hemp extract is 40% cannabinoids, what’s the other 60%? What’s in your hemp extracts besides the naturally occurring cannabinoids?

Our Kentucky hemp extracts contain over 80 different phyto-cannabinoids such as cannabidiol (CBD), CBC, CBG, CBN, etc.. In addition to the cannabinoids naturally present in our agricultural hemp extracts, there are also many other types of natural molecules and phyto-chemical compounds such as amino acids, carbohydrates, vitamins (including B1, B2, B6, D), fatty acids (including omega 3 & 6), trace minerals (including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium), beta-carotene, chlorophyll, flavanoids, ketones, nitrogenous compounds, alkanes, glycosides, pigments, water, and terpenes. The most common terpenes in our hemp extracts are Myrcene, Beta-caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Linalool, alpha-Pinene, beta-Pinene, Nerolidol og Phytol, trans-alpha-Bergamotene, Limonene/ beta-Phellandrene (Co-elution), and alpha-Humulene.

3. What’s the difference between Hemp and Marijuana?

Scientifically, industrial Hemp and Marijuana are the same plant, with a genus and species name of Cannabis Sativa. They have a drastically different genetic profile though. Industrial Hemp is always a strain of Cannabis sativa, while marijuana can be Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, or Cannabis ruderalis. The major difference is how industrial hemp has been bred compared to a marijuana form of Cannabis sativa. organic hemp seedsTypically speaking, industrial hemp is very fibrous, with long strong stalks, and barely has any flowering buds, while a marijuana strain of Cannabis sativa will be smaller, bushier, and full of flowering buds. However, newer industrial hemp varieties in the USA are being bred to have more flowers and higher yields of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as our Kentucky hemp we’re now using!

99% of the time marijuana has a high amount of THC and only a very low amount of CBD. Hemp, on the other hand, naturally has a very high amount of CBD in most instances, and only a trace amount of THC. Fortunately, the cannabinoid profile of hemp is ideal for people looking for benefits from cannabis without the ‘high.’ Hemp is used for making herbal supplements, food, fiber, rope, paper, bricks, oil, natural plastic, and so much more, whereas marijuana is usually used just recreationally, spiritually, and medicinally. The term cannabis oil can refer to either a marijuana or hemp derived oil, since marijuana and hemp are two different forms of cannabis.

In the USA the legal definition of “industrial hemp,” per Section 7606 of the Agricultural Appropriations Act of 2014, is “INDUSTRIAL HEMP — The term ‘‘industrial hemp’’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

4. Are hemp derived cannabinoids such as CBD as good as CBD from marijuana?

The short answer is yes. CBD is CBD, whether from marijuana or hemp. Most marijuana has a very low non-psychoactive cannabinoid profile (like CBD, CBC, CBG), so most of the time hemp would be much more preferable for anything besides THC. Marijuana is usually very high in THC (gives people the high) but usually very low in other non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Nowadays in the USA, many farmers are growing industrial hemp flowers that are just as beautiful, odor-producing, and terpene rich as the best marijuana strains, such as our partnered farmers in Kentucky.

5. Why don’t you source your Hemp and CBD from within Colorado?

colorado growing operationWe feel that the hemp program in Kentucky is more well suited for our company in regards to growing hemp, and that because it’s 100% compliant with Section 7606 of the 2014 Farm Bill (and the 2016 Agricultural Appropriations Act), procuring it from there is perfectly legal at the federal level. Kentucky’s ecology is perfect for hemp just as it is for tobacco. The growing season is longer than in Colorado, and the soil is richer, so the quality of the hemp and the yields are better.

6. What’s the percentage of cannabinoids and CBD in your product?

Our raw extracts have varying percentages of cannabinoid and cannabidiol (CBD) content, the range being 10%-99%. Each product has a unique formulation and uses varying ratios of our extract types. Our CBD Isolate is over 99% pure CBD.

7. What is the best method of use?

For our dietary supplements we can only recommend them for internal consumption. Our CBD isolate is for research purposes only. If you don’t like the flavor of the oil supplements, you can mix with something sweet like apple sauce or honey to cut through the flavor.

8. What’s the ideal serving size for me, and how often should I take it?

There is no easy answer to this. Our starting recommended serving size is 15 drops but we generally recommend experimenting to see what feels best to you. Some prefer 5 drops, some prefer over 50 drops per day.

9. What is the safety of your hemp extracts? Are there negative side effects?

Hemp is considered by many to be generally safe. We’ve never seen or heard of any significant or negative CBD Oil Extractside effects in our years in the industry. That said, we can’t rule them out. Please consult with your physician before using any dietary supplement including Hemp extract supplements.

10. Which of your CBD and hemp products should I get?

As a company who sells various dietary and food supplements, we can’t suggest any of our products for the prevention, treatment or cure of any disease or ailment.

When considering our different dietary hemp products, know that they all come in two strengths. Our Original Hemp blends (Classic Hemp Blend, Hemp Complete, Brainpower oil, & Signature Blend) all have 250+mg of cannabinoids per fluid ounce, and our concentrated blends have 1,500+mg per fluid ounce, six times the potency of our traditional oils. We’ve found that sometimes less is more, but nevertheless, some people like to take very large serving sizes of our hemp extracts.

The main difference between the four Original Blends is the additional herbal ingredients besides hemp. We suggest you research the separate components of each blend to determine which product may be most appealing to add to your dietary regimen. If you know it’s solely the hemp extract that you are looking for, with no additional ingredients, then Classic Hemp Blend or Classic Hemp 6x is what you’re looking for.

For dabbing and vaporizing or for research you can try our CBD Isolate.


11. Why do people use Hemp Extracts and CBD? What are the benefits and uses of CBD?

In accordance with federal regulations we cannot make health claims regarding our dietary supplement products. We can only recommend our products for general wellness.

12. Is a standard hemp seed oil the same as a high-CBD hemp extract?

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Absolutely not. Standard hemp oil, which can be found very cheaply at a grocery store, is a much different product than our CO2 hemp extracts (not from seed). Standard hemp oil is produced by cold pressing the seeds, whereas our hemp extract is a supercritical CO2 extraction of the hemp plant itself, not the seeds. Hemp seed oil is considered to be a great nutritive food, but it doesn’t have the naturally occurring terpenes, cannabinoids and other components that our extracts do have.

13. Do I need to move to Colorado to get your Hemp Extracts and CBD? Where do you ship?

No. We actually source our hemp from Kentucky, as it’s legal to ship across state lines. Many people are under the impression that the only way to acquire hemp extracts and CBD for themselves or a loved one is to move to Colorado or another cannabis-friendly state. Many major news outlets are misinformed and are unfortunately spreading the idea that you can only get CBD oil in the states where medical marijuana has been legalized. This is simply not the case though. Because our extracts comes from hemp instead of marijuana, we can and do ship to all fifty states, and no medical marijuana card is needed. There are some exceptions, like with Indiana, Missouri and South Dakota we can’t sell our concentrated products due to state legislation.

We also ship to Japan, Australia, the EU, Switzerland, and Brazil. For all EU orders contact our exclusive distributor thereCannawell.

14. Is your Hemp Extract Oil similar to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil?

Not quite. Ours are from hemp and RSHO is usually using marijuana, a different form of cannabis than industrial hemp. Our industrial hemp extracts are more standardized and will usually have a much higher content of non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD than one produced through the Rick Simpson method. And oils produced through his method will usually have a much higher THC content, as it’s typically marijuana that is used for RSHO.†

Generally speaking, most marijuana producers and sellers (especially on the black market) don’t test for contaminants (metals, pesticides, bacteria, etc.). Rick Simpson Hemp Oil is actually more a method of extraction than it is a specific product. People use the Rick Simpson method with hundreds of different strains of marijuana, so the THC, CBD and other cannabinoid content of the final oil is always varying greatly, depending on the cannabis the consumers are acquiring. Usually what’s used for Rick Simpson oil is a strain with an inferior CBD content (and high THC), because that’s what the vast amount of marijuana is nowadays.

15. Where do you source your hemp and CBD from?

We have partners in Kentucky who grew a dedicated plot for us this year (2016) which is being used in our products now. mjna message boardWe also currently source from Europe but we’ll be changing that soon.

16. What kind of testing/analysis is performed on your products?

We have an industry leading quality control system, and we have third party laboratories analyze all of our hemp extracts and our final products for cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, bacterial and microbial life, mycotoxins (fungus), and pesticides.

17. What is CO2 extraction? What’s the difference between subcritical and supercritical CO2 extractions?

CO2 extraction is an extraction process that uses pressurized carbon dioxide to extract phyto-chemicals (such as CBD, CBG, or terpenes, flavonoids, etc.) from a plant. CO2 at certain temperatures and pressures acts like a solvent, without the dangers of actually being one. It is the most expensive extraction method, and is widely considered the most effective and safest plant extraction method in the world.

Many hemp and CBD companies boast about their supercritical CO2 extractions, but that’s actually only one (and perhaps an inferior) method of using a CO2 extraction machine. There are also subcritical CO2 extractions, and ‘mid-critical’, a general range between subcritical and supercritical. Subcritical (low temp, low pressure) CO2 extractions take more time and produce smaller yields than super-critical, but they retain the essential oils, terpenes, and other sensitive chemicals within the plant. Supercritical, on the other hand, is a high pressure and high temperature process that damages most terpenes and heat sensitive chemicals, but can extract much larger molecules such as lipids (omega 3 and 6), chlorophyll, and waxes. A truly full-spectrum CO2 extract includes first performing a subcritical extraction, separating the extracted oil, and then extracting the same plant material using supercritical pressure, and then homogenizing both oil extracts into one. In the essential oil industry, an extract made using this specific process is referred to as a CO2 Total.

18. What is the endocannabinoid system (ECS)?

“The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a group of endogenous cannabinoid receptors located in the mammalian brain and throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems, consisting of neuromodulatory lipids and their receptors.” Wikipedia

There are two main types of receptors in the ECS, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the central nervous system and brains of mammals, and CB2 are generally found in the peripheral nervous system. There are two main cannabinoids mammals produce- 2AG and Anandamide (named after the Sanskrit term “ananda” which translates to “peace”).

For hundreds of millions of years every vertebrate on Earth has been equipped with this ECS, a crucial system in the body, and it has been known about in the scientific and medical communities since the 1980’s. However, it’s still not taught about in most medical schools.