Knight of Cups

The Marijuana Magician divines that Love is in the cards at the 20th Anniversary Cannabis Cup.

Typically when my boss, Steve Hager, summons to me to his office, it’s to ask me whether I’ve dealt with some contract or edited some story he’s sent me. But on this particular autumn day, Hager had magick on his mind.

“Bobby—you have tarot cards at home, right?”

“Four different decks, actually…why?”

“Bring them in—I need them for reference. I’m designing a High Times tarot deck. You’re going to be the Magician.” His plan was to assign each staff member to one of the Major Arcana cards, bring the cards to the Cannabis Cup and use them for our spiritual ceremonies.

“Well that’s an interesting idea, Steve,” I responded skeptically as I glanced over at the calendar, “but it’s November 7th. There’s no way you can get a custom deck made up by next week.”

But I was proven wrong—one week later, when I arrived at the Temple Dragon HQ in Amsterdam, I found artist Sweet Bryar Ludwig painting a set of cards and making fast progress. I also discovered that the 21 coffeeshop strains awaiting me as a celebrity judge—as well as the 21 sativas, 18 indicas and 11 hashish varieties that I would be receiving over the next two days—had all been encoded with the names of tarot cards. High Priest Hager was casting his spell.

This being my 12th Cup (third as a celebrity judge), I was no stranger to evaluating copious amounts of cannabis in a short time. As I smoked my way through jar after jar of fragrant, fuzzy weed, there was but one concrete criterion that I sought: If it didn’t make my nose tingle after a toke, it simply wasn’t a contender. My mantra was: If it makes you sneeze, it’s sure to please.

Contrary to what my image and reputation might suggest, I found myself drawn not toward strains like Sexuality and the Devil, but toward more romantic strains such as Poetry, the Fool and the Lovers. Was the weed trying to tell me something? Apparently so, because after a single hit of the strain dubbed Love…


By the time awards day rolled around, I discovered I’d lost my ability and desire to continue judging. The tastes and aromas of the strains all began to blur together. It seemed the more I smoked, the less high I got. So I went back to smoking the strain that had given me the most tingle, the one that had made me sneeze—Love. Sure enough, it broke through the haze and I was high again. I wandered into the Green Room at the Powerzone and found Sweet Briar still hard at work on the almost completed deck. As I gazed down at the cards all laid out before me, this muddled Magician finally made the connection: The Cannabis Cup wasn’t just a trophy—it was the Chalice, the divine feminine, a suit of the tarot symbolizing the west, water, intuition, artistic expression, emotion and love. That’s what the High Priest was up to…what the altar with the Cups and candles, the whole event was all about. It was like I’d suddenly cracked some hippie DaVinci code and realized the Holy Grail had been right under my nose the whole time.

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