The Cannabis Cup
By JACKSON STRAW

Red-eyed pilgrims from across the globe flocked to Amsterdam in November to celebrate one of the Dutch capital’s most renowned events – the Cannabis Cup.

Triple-chamber bongs were loaded and monster spliffs twisted as more than 2000 cannabis connoisseurs put their expertise to work in pursuit of the best Amsterdam’s coffee shops have to offer.

But even before voting closed it was almost certain where the coveted cup was heading: right back to Barney’s Breakfast Bar. Barney’s retained the cup for the second year running after judges voted the coffee shop’s potent ganga, Willie Nelson, top weed in town.

The breakfast bar also scooped prizes for best imported hash (Carmella Cream), best Dutch hash (Waterworks) and best booth.  
Dampkring, The Greenhouse and The Dolphins also proved favourites amongst judges.
“But it’s not just about getting stoned,” said Steven Hager, co-editor of High Times Magazine, and founder of the Cannabis Cup.

The week-long festival featured a wide variety of hemp paraphernalia, ranging from bullet-proof coats to space-age smoking implements, world-class entertainers like Pattie Smith, and educational exhibits. Inspired by tales of the Harvest Festivals in California in the 70s, Steven hosted the first cup in 1988. And after 18 years the event has evolved far beyond the creator’s imagination.
“I had no idea this was going to happen,” said Steven.
“Now there’s hundreds all around the world. There’s a marijuana festival in Spain that attracts hundreds visitors. This is just a baby now. [But] this is the original and most famous marijuana judging event. And it has spawned hundreds of imitations around the world.”
Today cannabis is often cultivated in ways that maximise the flowers potency. 

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But Steven advises smokers to utilise tools that minimise the plants harmful effects, such as vapourisers, and encourages people to gain an understanding of the mystical herbs spiritual values.   
“It’s not about the strength. That’s a misconception. It’s about the flavour. It’s like wine tasting. The stronger it is the less you have to do!”