Alaska Hosts High Times Cannabis Cup With Unique, More “Mom and Pop” Industry

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The High Times Cannabis Cup (High Times)

A battle of buds begins in Alaska on Saturday, as High Times magazine’s Cannabis Cup competition returns to the state.

High Times bills itself as “the world’s most recognized cannabis brand”, having launched its counterculture magazine nearly 50 years ago, and claims its Cannabis Cup is a continuation of competitions held in Amsterdam from of the 1980s.

Now, however, it is possible to hold the competitions legally in the United States – some of them, anyway.

High Times events and competitions director Mark Kazinec said Alaska, as the second state to legalize recreational use of marijuana in 2015, with its now robust cannabis industry, is an ideal location. for a competition.

And as an outside observer, Kazinec says there are some unique and interesting things about the cannabis industry here.

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The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Marc Kazinc: Yeah, I think Alaska has an amazing market. It’s still growing, which is great, because the MSOs, the multi-state operators, the huge, you know, cannabis industry Walmarts, haven’t attacked Alaska yet. And that’s not always a bad thing, but it’s bad for small growers, where they have their business, but if somebody else bigger comes along and they can sell their cannabis to dispensaries at a cheaper price, these dispensaries will probably accept them, because their margins will be better. So we haven’t seen that in Alaska yet. So it’s still a great bunch of enthusiasts, local people, small businesses, family shops or whatever, where they care about what’s going on. They keep their small operations. It’s craft cannabis. We think it’s just a great place, because there’s still a lot of licensing, but they actually care, and they produce their own product instead of just licensing it to someone else, or having a huge manufacturing operation where they can’t even do as much quality control as someone with a small operation could.

Casey’s Grove: You mentioned earlier, some of these big brands out of state haven’t made it here yet. So I have to ask, I mean, do you see that happening here?

MK: In most states you will see this. I think every large enterprise, MSO or multi-state operator wants to try to expand their operations into as many states as possible. You know, it’s just, it’s for economic reasons, and just for branding reasons. But after working with some of the attorneys here in Alaska, I think there’s good written language in Alaska’s cannabis law that doesn’t accept outside money. So it could be protected, at least for now, I don’t know if those regulations will change, but I think Alaska is currently protected from outside investment, outside funding. So if any of these big operators want to go out, they have to build a staff, have them live in Alaska for a while, and then get licensed and able to operate. So it’s a bit more difficult here, which I think is pretty cool for Alaska.

CG: So, how does this competition work? You already talked a bit about the kit that people get. And it looks like there are different judges or sets of judges maybe for different categories, right?

MK: Yeah.

CG: What are they looking at? I mean, how corny does it get? I mean, no offense, but like, how much do they analyze the pot? And what do they do, other than, you know, smoke it?

MK: Yeah, so we want people to be extremely corny or just very, very thorough. Thus, the products are organized into nine categories. So we have sativa flower, hybrid flower, indica flower, we have vape pens as a category, concentrates as a category, then we have pre-rolls as a category and infused pre-rolls as a as a category, which is flower plus concentrates rolled up in, you know, a joint. And finally, we have two categories of edibles, one for gummies and one for nongums, which typically includes chocolates, cookies, baked goods, and even capsules sometimes, including here in Alaska. So, nine categories to choose from and judge. So they go to the dispensary, they buy this judging kit and they judge this category. He’s going to ask them how they rank aesthetics, so what do things look like, from one to 10, one being least favorable, 10 being most favorable. (They) also judge aroma, taste, effects, burnability, different criteria for different categories, with comments in each of these sections. And then a final final section for the full experience. You know, tell us about your background. And it all comes back to the sellers anonymously.

CG: Interesting. To be clear, you’re not ready to say that Alaska has the best cannabis of all the states. You know, we think we’re better than everyone else.

MK: Oh yeah. I guess we’ll see. I mean, it’s hard because it’s not federally legalized. So you can’t compare cannabis from Alaska in a legal and compliant setting to cannabis from California. You can’t have a judge testing both in one. Yes, we will see. We’ll see what happens to this competition. And then as the government, you know, potentially legalizes it federally, which I think has a lot of downsides, a lot of upsides as well. And then maybe we can try to do interstate competitions where we can get multiple states together in one place, put this product together and make a sample kit out of it to judge.

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