Pot en­thu­si­asts line up for chance to judge state’s best weed in Cannabis Cup

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY TOM SCHUBA, STAFF RE­PORTER tschuba@suntimes.com | @TomSchuba

Dozens of ea­ger pot en­thu­si­asts swarmed a Lo­gan Square dis­pen­sary Tues­day hop­ing to get a chance to judge the dopest dope Illi­nois has to of­fer as the state’s first-ever High Times Cannabis Cup kicked off.

Un­like pre­vi­ous it­er­a­tions of the com­pe­ti­tion, which have boasted rau­cous par­ties and celebrity judges like Snoop Dogg and Tommy Chong, home­grown Kush con­nois­seurs will vote on the win­ners from the com­fort of their own homes.

By late morn­ing, a line was al­ready stretch­ing down Mil­wau­kee Av­enue out­side MOCA Mod­ern Cannabis, the only Chicago store sell­ing kits of pre-se­lected pot prod­ucts submitted for con­sid­er­a­tion.

For one judge, the con­test of­fers a wel­come respite from the monotony of the COVID-19 shut­down.

“If it’s the only ac­tiv­ity that we re­ally can do dur­ing this pe­riod, it sounded like a good event to get in­volved in,” said Amanda, a West

Loop res­i­dent who de­clined to give her last name. “It’s some­thing to do . . . when ev­ery­thing else is kind of can­celed right now.”

Given that she’s re­cently moved away from drink­ing and has in­stead been us­ing in­fused cannabis prod­ucts to un­wind, Amanda se­lected the test­ing kit that in­cludes a range of ed­i­bles. Judges can also choose from six other cat­e­gories of prod­ucts, in­clud­ing three types of cannabis flower, pre­rolled joints, con­cen­trates and vape car­tridges.

The test­ing kits, which range in price from $80 to $300, were ex­pected to re­main on sale un­til Sept. 23 at MOCA, Zen Leaf in St. Charles, the Rise stores in Eff­in­g­ham and Niles and the Be­yond/Hello lo­ca­tions in Sauget and Nor­mal. How­ever, High Times Ex­ec­u­tive Chair­man Adam Levin said the early de­mand has been so high that all the test­ing kits may sell out be­fore the end of the first day.

“Peo­ple have waited for hours to get the best of the best, and our part­ners are see­ing one of the best days they’ve had since their grand open­ings,” noted Levin.

Pat Han­ni­gan, sales man­ager for the down­state Anna-based pot firm Aeriz, said he’s ex­cited to grade some of the best hy­brid strains on the mar­ket, in­clud­ing some grown by his com­pany. Though he works in the in­dus­try, Han­ni­gan has had a hard time find­ing “a choice selec­tion of flower” as the state con­tin­ues to grap­ple with a sup­ply short­age.

“It’ll prob­a­bly take me more than one run to re­ally sit down and give my best re­views,” said Han­ni­gan, of New Lenox.

High Times, the vaunted pot pub­li­ca­tion, hosted the first Cannabis

Cup in Am­s­ter­dam in 1988. The event has since be­come a sta­ple of stoner cul­ture, with cannabis icons like Wiz Khal­ifa and Method Man per­form­ing at re­cent in­car­na­tions of the bac­cha­nal. The win­ners of Illi­nois’ first Cannabis Cup will be an­nounced dur­ing a vir­tual awards show on Sept. 27.

Danny Marks, MOCA’s co-owner, lauded High Times as “a pioneer in cannabis cul­ture.”

“As the in­dus­try and cannabis in gen­eral has evolved, it is ex­cit­ing to be a part of the le­gal 2020 ver­sion of the fa­mous Cannabis Cup event,” Marks told the Sun-Times. “And to see it hap­pen­ing in Illi­nois is al­most sur­real. We’ve come a long way.”

PRO­VIDED

Cus­tomers line up out­side of the MOCA Mod­ern Cannabis store in Lo­gan Square on Tues­day, the first day test­ing kits were avail­able for the state Cannabis Cup.

Pat Han­ni­gan

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