High Times 20th Anniversary Cannabis Cup | (High Times Productions/MVD Visual)

dvd_high-times.jpgThe annual High Times Cannabis Cup competition and festival looks like the kind of fun that makes an American weed smoker drool in envy at the unenforced laws of Amsterdam.







It’s "the stoner Super Bowl," "marijuana fantasy camp" and "a playground for adults." It’s the 2007 annual High Times Cannabis Cup competition and festival, and whatever the attendees call it in the commemorative DVD, it looks like the kind of fun that makes an American weed smoker drool in envy at the unenforced laws of Amsterdam.

You know the look you get on your face when you’re high and happy as a kid skipping over a lawn sprinkler? Everyone has that look in this DVD.

It might have something to do with the prodigious amounts of high-powered weed in bongs, pipes, vaporizer bags, joints, huge "hand-grenade"-sized buds, oversized 100-gram joints, and so on, throughout the documentary. Footage of baristas showing off the many, many different selections available in Amsterdam’s pot coffeehouses is, to the persecuted smoker, like dropping off a bulimic at a cheesecake factory. Holy shit. Gotta go to Holland. (One Cannabis Cup notable says of his first time buying weed at an Amsterdam café, "I almost cried. I was like, ‘This is how it can be!’")

High Times readers are well acquainted with those close-up photos of fat, fuzzy indica-looking buds shot through with red veins. Well, in the DVD you can almost smell the goodness as the competition judges pass around monster buds for inspection.

And you can be a judge. You can fly to Amsterdam, pay the admission fee, and earn the right to help select the premiere weed on the planet at the Academy Awards of doobage. Thousands do it every year.

All this video of people wandering from one coffeehouse to the next to get higher and higher had me wondering: Wouldn’t you at some point be overcome and able to get "none more high," to paraphrase Spinal Tap? Well, there’s a fascinating account by one veteran judge of how he manages to be objective through the fog of high after high after high. "Of course you’re high," he explains. "You just spent the last three hours smoking 12, 15 kinds of pot. But now I’ve just smoked this 16th kind of pot, and it cut right through the haze, so to speak, and whoa! I’m much higher than I was a few minutes ago. Put that shit aside!"

(According to Wikipedia, "Often a beautiful room is provided for those who are considered ‘flagged’ and have no capacity to consume any additional marijuana.")

Because an educated stoner is the best consumer, the DVD explains the difference between Cannabis indica (it grows naturally in the mountains, and offers a "couch-lock body high") and Cannabis sativa (it’s grown in the tropics, and confers a more cerebral high). There’s also a brief discussion of that dark, tarry, Tootsie Roll-like stuff commonly known as hash. As one Cannabis Cup organizer explains, "If weed is beer, hash is wine."

The doc also includes behind-the-scenes looks at the judging and voting processes, aka "potlitics," including various claims that the contest is rigged. One controversy that blew up in the promoters’ faces, the "Ooky Kabuki" affair, is the only buzzkill here. It seems a couple of con artists from NYC tried to pass off a wicked strain of weed, "Ooky Kabuki," as if they’d grown it themselves, when in all probability, they just bought it from an Amsterdam dealer. Viewers will also get a kick out of witnessing the systemic confusions that are inevitable when a group of hardcore stoners tries to organize a festival for a group of hardcore stoners.

Extras include en extended freestyle-rap performance by Redman, who loves the herb, and the unexpectedly fat 36-page booklet that comes in the box. It’s got a history of the Cup, a map of Amsterdam cafes, judging tips, and more.

The Cannabis Cup DVD was so much fun to watch. There are a few brief moments when marijuana lovers discuss what’s so right about the plant: how it brings people together, alleviates pain for cancer patients, and sometimes, when the light is right, offers a taste of transcendence. It’s worth repeating one enthusiastic comment about the city’s relaxed drug laws, one more time, by a High Times staffer on his first visit to an Amsterdam coffeehouse: "I almost cried. I was like, ‘This is how it can be!’" | Byron Kerman

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