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Radical Rant: Cannabis Cup, A Rollercoaster of Hash

Russ Belville

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Read the first and second parts of this Cannabis Cup adventure.

Let That Be Your Last Battlefield

We drove down the road to a head shop that my friend had seen called “Freaky’s”. It also contains a tattoo parlor, which makes some sort of sense, I guess. We went to the counter where a beautiful woman greeted us enthusiastically. Her hair was parted down the middle and was black on one side and platinum blonde on the other. She was captivating.

“How can I help you?” she asked. We told her we were here to buy my friend’s first dab rig. “Right over there in those cabinets,” she pointed, “just let me know if you need to see anything.”

We looked over the cabinet, and I explained to my friend what we’d need.

“We need some sort of glass base—that’s similar to a bong,” I said, relishing being able to say “bong” in a head shop. “Then we need a nail. Those are glass nails, you heat them with a torch and dab your hash onto it, covering it with one of those glass domes. Or you can get these domeless titanium nails, they’re nice because you don’t have to keep track of a dome. And that’s an electric nail, they’re hella cool because you’re not constantly using a torch.” (Yeah, I said “hella.” Stop judging me.)

“So we need a base, a nail and a torch?” my friend replied.

“And a pick of some sort, to apply the dab—a dab tool,” I added.

“What does all this stuff cost?” she asked.

I won’t tell you what it cost, but my friend told me it was the most she ever spent on marijuana paraphernalia in her life.

“I’ve never even bought a pipe,” she told me. “They’ve all been given to me.”

She picked out a nice cup-shaped base with frosted glass and a “Starbuds Dabucino” logo-ripoff—which is perfect since she’s a card-carrying Starbucks addict—and a titanium nail and dab tool.

As our cashier rung up the purchase, I asked her if she had ever seen the classic Star Trek episode, “Let That Be Your Last Battlefield.” Of course she hadn’t, so I explained how Frank Gorshim played a last survivor of an alien race that was half-black, half white, literally right down the middle, and I mean clown white and pitch black. He was locked in a battle with a last survivor of another race that was half-white, half-black, a mirror image of Gorshim’s alien race, and they hated each other because 1960’s race relation metaphor.

“I’ve gotten lots of other references, like Two-Face from Batman,” she said, “but never Star Trek.”

“Well, that’s because I’m old,” I told her. We thanked her for the service and went back to the home base to start filling out the rest of the categories for our non-solvent hash judging.

A Rollercoaster of Hash

Judging the non-solvent hash was more difficult than I had expected. In all the other categories, a judge knows if they are getting sativa, indica or hybrid. But with non-solvent, it seems all of them are entered into this one category. So how do you judge, say, an indica finger-hash, a sativa ice-water crumble and a CO2 hybrid rosin, all on the same scale?

Well, you can’t. It’s important to give up any notion that you’re going to be performing objective, scientifically rigorous work judging these samples. And that’s OK; the point of the Cannabis Cup is to find what satisfies the consumers of cannabis. If all they wanted was objective, scientifically accurate judging, they’d just use the printouts from the analytical labs.

But even figuring out what satisfies you isn’t all that easy. It’s not like a wine tasting, where you can swish it around in your mouth and spit it out. Unlike President Clinton, a hash judge has to inhale.

I did what I could to try to get 32 samples tested fairly in just six days. My friend and I picked out six per day to sample, three in the morning and three in the evening. We kept the dabs down to the dib level—a dib is the smallest unit of dabbage. Three dibs make a dab, three dabs make a glob and three globs make a slab, in case you’re wondering.

Even so, sampling three hashes in a row is daunting. If the first one is a strong indica, it is hard to parse out the headiness of the high in the sativa that follows. If a sample is a bit harsh and gives you a hack, it’s difficult to determine just how smooth the next sample is. If one sample is particularly tasty, it’s hard to figure out if you’re over-rating the following sample.

We decided to sample all the entries in groups based on similar constituency. We started with the slabs of wax, then the brown-sugarish crumbles, then the white-sand-looking kiefs. There wasn’t a bad one in the bunch; it was really more like most of the samples were all pretty good, and we had to find the exceptional samples among them.

As we sampled, we took notes for each category. Some hashes had pine, lemon, juniper, wood or cheese aroma overtones. Tastes ranged from berry to diesel and from smooth hits to harsh hacks. The highs included buzzy, tingling, energetic sativas to relaxed, pain-relieving, couch-lock indicas. We also gave the hashes names to keep track of them, including “Walden” (smooth like a pond), “Jamaican Beach” (a white indica kief) and “Mouse Turds” (small rolled balls of finger hash).

We finished our final samples just an hour before the deadline on Friday. On Sunday, the winners were announced and it turned out that the “Lemonhead” we had raved over and given our second-highest scores was the overall winner. I only wish I could have taken it back to Oregon with me… but I’m sure my friend in Denver is quite happy I had to leave it behind.

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