By Allen St. Pierre
Congratulations to HIGH TIMES for convening marijuana enthusiasts for 25 years of Cannabis Cup Awards in Amsterdam! This remarkable feat of the counterculture – which has changed no elected policymakers’ minds, won no lawsuits in the courts, nor passed any reform legislation – figures as one of the most important contributing factors today, in North America and Europe, towards realizing a more permissible attitude regarding responsible adult cannabis use and affirming that cannabis commerce thrives at the retail level.

For the last quarter-century, when college students and young adults are asked to name an activity or trip they’d like to take, those who enjoy marijuana readily answer: “I want to go to the Cannabis Cup!”


Having attended this incredible event and been afforded a Oz-like peek of the behind-the-scenes operations, I marvel at ability of the HIGH TIMES staff (and their associates) to negotiate political and law enforcement opposition while also procuring and sampling the best cannabis and hashish products in the world. Meanwhile, an informative and nurturing environment is also created to accommodate a crush of cannabis-loving tourists and aficionados, allowing them to safely enjoy marijuana at hundreds of the city’s coffeeshops.


Thousands of Cup-goers enjoyed their first experience as “free” cannabis consumers. Those who’ve attended this historic event have, in effect, served as modern Marco Polos – they travel from far away lands and, upon their return, tell tales of their adventures; the new things they’ve seen and smoked.


I’ve met dozens of lawyers, celebrities, media personalities, musicians, writers, producers, physicians, researchers, and policymakers from around the world who’ve attended. The positive and enlightening experience has clearly informed them about the forward-looking cannabis policies they want to see replicated back in their home countries. When American prohibitionists, law enforcement agencies or obstructionist politicians claim that cannabis can never be legalized, the many thousands of Cannabis Cup Award judges and participants can readily relate our firsthand accounts of what we’ve seen and experienced in a nation where cannabis consumers enjoy the same degree of courtesy and respect as beer drinkers.


Also, along with the remarkable cultural exchange and personal transformations associated with all foreign travel, the Cannabis Cup has become a popular date on the calendar for cannabis commerce. Annually, it hosts a marketplace of the hippest paraphernalia, hash making kits, cultivation technologies, and cannabis preparation devices.


I remember the Cannabis Cup when the first prototype for what are now commonly called “grinders” was introduced. After years of employing scissors, or picking cannabis apart for consumption on a magazine, I was handed a tight bud of wonderful ganja and an odd-looking wooden device with protruding offset nails. Two grinds later, the proverbial call of the angels rang in my head. It was a genuine hallelujah moment!


Since this Cannabis Cup experience, I’ve never been without a grinder and now revel in the modern metal designs that feature kief catchers and other features.


Before cannabis becomes legal in North America – and it will, sooner than later – every cannabis consumer should get a glimpse at what cannabis commerce for the responsible adult use of cannabis is going to look like. Consider treating yourself to a huge educational and cultural opportunity by visiting the Netherlands for the Cup. Perhaps, one day, it will be diminished in relevance when American cannabis consumers enjoy the same personal freedoms our Dutch brothers and sisters have had for over 35 years.