You’re the Judge For This Year’s High Times Cannabis Cup

2,200 people judging 175 product entries (255,000 grams of cannabis total) from 55 brands

When COVID crushed the world in 2020, among the countless new realities faced by cannabis and media companies, High Times realized right away that they wouldn’t be able to host Cannabis Cup events. A significant part of their business model, the iconic battles were put on the back burner.

“The traditional High Times Cannabis Cup has been going on since the ’80s in Amsterdam,” says Mark Kazinec, High Times director of events and competitions. “When the pandemic hit, we couldn’t do events, but people still wanted to enter competitions.”

Stoned as they may have been, it didn’t take long for Kazinec and his team to jump into action. In normal non-COVID years, when they hand-selected a few judges out of many applicants, High Times “would get thousands of people applying and asking, What does it take to be a judge?

Their response to the situation seemed almost intuitive—let those people, cannabis-consuming members of the public, handle judging themselves from the comfort of their living rooms and smoking dens.

Of course, the logistics weren’t so easy. As a test run, Kazinec’s crew rolled out the first People’s Choice Edition of their Cannabis Cup in Oklahoma in 2020. Though only a medical market, the lax regulations there enabled them to figure out how such a competition might work—basically, High Times and partner operations collect samples from participants, then distribute them as kits. Members of the public can then purchase them, and give scores and feedback through an online portal. The system has been overhauled and streamlined over the past two years, as it’s rolled out into other markets including Massachusetts, but the inspirational concept remains.

“The people’s choice model is more democratic—it’s not just a small circle of homies who know homies, growers, and everyone else like that,” Kazinec says. “We have all these other people who want to be judges and their opinion counts too.”

Fast-forward to this year, and their second Bay State cup will have input from 2,200 people judging 175 product entries (255,000 grams of cannabis total) from 55 brands. The categories: Indica Flower, Sativa Flower, Hybrid Flower, Pre-rolls, Concentrates, Distillate Vape Pens, Non-Distillate Vape Pens, Edibles: Sativa Gummies, Edibles: Indica Gummies, Edibles: Chocolate non-gummies, Edibles: Fruity non-gummies, Edibles: Beverages, Topicals + Tinctures + Capsules.

“High Times is hyped to bring Cannabis Cup back to Massachusetts to give thousands of cannabis consumers the chance to taste, review, and score the best products in the state,” Kazinec says. “We’re excited to grow from 17 participating dispensaries in 2021 to 30 dispensaries this year, and that means, for the first time, kits will be available in many more locations, including new additions in Dracut, Franklin, Hopedale, and Amherst, alongside returning cities like Boston, Haverhill, Worcester, and Fall River.”

He adds, “There’s less risk of there being bandwagon effect, and bias” with so many evaluators from across the state. “If you have 20 judges, and five of them are friends, a quarter of them might vote for the same thing. With the [People’s Choice edition], there are a lot more people rating, and the growers and dispensaries get all the feedback.”

For those who want to jump in, “judging kits will be sold on a first-come, first-serve basis” starting this Saturday, Sept. 24. Yes, that means you’ll want to get yours ASAP. “Pricing is estimated between $100-$300 depending on the category, and kits include a range of 7-28 different product samples. Judging kits will come in a smell-resistant High Times backpack, complete with judging samples and a scorecard pass that gives judges access to the online judging portal.”

From there, “judges will have until Nov. 13 to give detailed comments on aesthetics, aroma, taste and effects of each product.” And “winners will be announced Nov. 27 during the virtual High Times Cannabis Cup Massachusetts Awards Show.”

“People will be waiting outside the doors at some dispensaries,” Kazinec says. “It’s like a Supreme drop.”

You can find a list of participating dispensaries below:

  • NETA – 160 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

  • NETA – 118 Conz St, Northampton, MA 01060

  • NETA – 162 Grove St, Franklin, MA 02038

  • Bud’s Goods – 64 W Boylston St, Worcester, MA 01606

  • Bud’s Goods – 1540 Bedford St, Abington, MA 02351

  • Bud’s Goods – 330 Pleasant St, Watertown, MA 02472

  • INSA – 462 Highland Ave, Salem, MA 01970

  • INSA -122 Pleasant St Suite 144, Easthampton, MA 01027

  • INSA -122 Pleasant St Suite 144, Easthampton, MA 01027 (Medical)

  • INSA – 1200 W Columbus Ave, Springfield, MA 01105

  • INSA – 506 Cottage St, Springfield, MA 01104 (Medical Only)

  • Stem Haverhill – 124 Washington St, Haverhill, MA 01832

  • Northeast Alternatives (NEA) – 999 William S Canning Blvd, Fall River, MA 02721

  • Western Front – 121 Webster Ave, Chelsea, MA 02150

  • Western Front – 567 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge MA 02139

  • Native Sun Wellness – 1320 South Washington Street

  • Caroline’s Cannabis – 640 Douglas St, Uxbridge, MA 01569

  • Caroline’s Cannabis – 4 Charlesview Road – Hopedale, MA 01747

  • Nova Farms – 34 Extension St, Attleboro, MA 02703

  • Nova Farms – 1137 Worcester Road Framingham MA 01701 

  • Nova Farms – 1274 Merrimack Ave Dracut MA 01826

  • Harbor House Collective – 80 Eastern Ave, Chelsea, MA 02150

  • Resinate – 1191 Millbury Street, Worcester

  • Resinate – 110 Pleasant Street, Northampton

  • RISE Dracut – 19 School St, Dracut, MA 01826 (Rec)

  • RISE Maynard – 24 Main St, Maynard, MA 01754 (Rec)

  • RISE Chelsea – 200 Beacham St, Chelsea, MA 02150

  • Affinity Boston – 591 Albany St. Boston MA 02118

  • Rise Amherst – 169 Meadow St Amherst MA 01002

  • Affinity West Springfield – 175 Circuit Ave. West Springfield MA 01089