Cannabis cups are events organised by and for the cannabis community where judges test samples and choose the best flower of the season, semester, or year and then award top growers. There are several categories and hundreds of samples are submitted. Contestants receive discreet calls by organisers and the event address is shared across the self-cultivation community. In Latin America, cannabis cups offer an opportunity to exchange information about a practice that remains illegal. Growers arrange a safe space to share their best strains, discuss cultivation and smoke the best weed of their harvest. Unlike Expocannabis, cannabis cups are events where we can find food, cannabis byproducts and extracts, workshops, demonstrations, music, and cannabis culture, apart from paraphernalia.
Cannabis Cups in Uruguay, Colombia and Argentina
The history of this competition traces back to the original users of this plant in the American continent. It has arisen out of the need to share and showcase the products of the harvest to improve production methods in places where cultivation is still illegal. Uruguay is the sole exception: in this country, cannabis cups hold a privileged position, featuring congresses, workshops and other kinds of meetings concerning this plant.
“No growers, no weed,” claim attendants during the Farallones Cup 2021 in Cali, Colombia, where experienced growers and judges have been sharing their knowledge for many years now as they emphasise growing as the backbone of this industry. Apart from the awards themselves, the main purpose is to share, compete and honour each other with no interventions from outsiders who know little to nothing about cannabis cultivation.
In Argentina, the first and major cannabis cup was held in 2003 and was named the Del Plata Cannabis Cup. What started as a simple meeting of growers to share the best of their harvest has evolved into a contest connecting the greatest representatives of South America. This year, a change in legislation towards legalisation for medical use brought cannabis out into the open. In November, the country will hold the first edition of ExpoIndustria Cannabis & Cáñamo, a cannabis event that was declared of provincial interest by the House of Representatives of the province of Chaco.
The First Mexican Cannabis Cup
After a legislative win this year, Mexican growers found the courage to come out from the shadows of prohibitionism and gathered for the first time in Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, to hold their first cannabis cup, featuring a panel of international experts who judged strains and extracts.
Max Montrose, attendant and jury at the Cannabis Cup in Mexico, explained the standard procedure for objectively scoring and identifying the best weed. Mr. Montrose, who is the founder of the Trichome Institute, showed that any flower strain can be identified and assessed in terms of quality through detailed observation, a set of criteria and comparative charts. The expert claims that the cannabis industry is packed with con artists from the black market. According to Max, success on the part of big companies from the USA will largely depend on their association with cannabis-growing experts who understand the context surrounding this plant.
Sharing, Knowing, and Spreading the Cannabis Culture
We need to be clear about something: both organisers and attendants stress that cannabis cups are not a weekend street fair where they sell weed. Of course, weed will be there because samples of contestants are usually handed out. However, strict safety standards are imposed so that the event may become legal some day in the future.
Cannabis cups are an opportunity to learn how to identify different products, how they are used and how they are made—information that is typically found on product labels when we shop at the supermarket, but unfortunately restricted in the cannabis realm. As prohibition restrains users from knowing what they are getting and where it comes from, cannabis cups offer the chance to learn about this plant from growers themselves.