cannabis cup

Canada’s 1st High Times Cannabis Cup: Interview with judge Craig Ex

Craig Ex from Expert Joints spoke to us about judging all 143 samples in Canada’s first ever High Times Cannabis Cup and how he wants everyone entering cups everywhere to step their game up.

So how was judging the High Times Cannabis Cup?

 It was hazy! I sampled 143 items that were entered into the High Times Cannabis Cup, which was here for the first Canadian edition. It was a lot to consume but I managed to get through it all, start to finish. It was 21 hours of testing- 29 waking hours and 40 hours from start to finish.
Basically, it was a sample every 8 minutes while I was actually testing, a sample every 12 minutes while I was awake, and then a sample every 16 minutes while I was sleeping!
Even though there was so much to go through, I got it done pretty quick!

Was it your first time judging?

It was my first time judging the High Times Cannabis Cup but I’ve judged many other cups before.

Which categories did you judge?

 There was more than a dozen categories. There were flowers in indica, hybrid, sativa, and CBD, and there were also concentrates in indica, hybrid, sativa, and CBD.
There was also non-solvent hash, vape pens, topicals, edibles, and medically-infused products as well as a category they called “Best Products”.

Did you get to sample a little bit of all of those products?

Well, there was anywhere between 3-18 samples in each one of the categories and I sampled every single entry from every single category, except for the eye drops.

What was in your judges kit?

143 samples as well as a few promo items in the swag bag that came with it from some of the sponsors

So these 143 samples, what sizes did they come in?

Concentrates were half a gram and flowers seemed to be, depending on who was giving it, half a gram as well, although a couple baggies looked fatter.
For edibles, you got a sample of each, whatever their sample’s portion size was because they were not rebranded or rebagged or anything like that and as far as the topicals you just got whatever their little sample pack was.

What were a few of your personal favorites?

Mota Edibles were absolutely first class as were Miss Envy’s products. Both of which did very well at the event to nobody’s surprise.

What do you rate them on?

They had an online website where you’d go through and it would populate all these various drop downs and menus. But it was generally on appearance, aroma, flavor, potency, burn quality, and flush, of course. When it came to the topicals it also included things like helping with inflammation and easing pain.
It all kind of varied from category to category.

What is the judging process like? Is it anonymous, blind or both?

The flowers and concentrates are blind, but because of packaging and hygiene concerns, the edibles were not. Also, a lot of the vape pens were already pre-branded so they were impossible to do blind as well.
All the topicals came in branded in regular conventional packaging, too. But the rest of it was blind.
There was 20 judges, all of them celebrities or industry insiders, chosen by High Times. I was one of them, being personally selected by the magazine to represent and see what I thought.

When it comes to the products that weren’t blind, do you think that affected how you judged them?

Well, to some degree you can’t help it. Like with the Miss Envy packaging… it’s just so nice, and when you compare that to something in a little plastic bag… that’s the difference between homemade and professional.
The products typically stand on their own, but when the packaging is that much nicer than everybody else’s you can’t help but have a little bit of influence.
I mean, some of the judging criteria was “Is it professionally packaged and does it look nice?”

Did you get a chance to see any of the performances?

I didn’t go to Vancouver Island for the event myself. I had the Fore 20 Cup and a lot to do out here with Studio710 getting set-up. I was asked to host it at one point but I was unable to do so because of prior obligations with the Fore 20 Cup.
But I’m sure High Times will come calling again anytime they want to do something in Canada and I’ll be looking forward to the next event.

Was the Cannabis Cup a continuation of the BioCup that was held last year?

Well what happened was the BioCup was supposed to be coming for their second edition this year and at the last minute, a few weeks before the event, they were able to structure a deal with High Times to go ahead and rebrand the cup as the organizers had been long-time advertisers with High Times.

Did you have any last thoughts on the Cannabis Cup or what you hope to see from it next year?

What I want to see from all the cannabis cups, not just High Times, but all the cups in general, is people stepping up.
I’ve been kind of disappointed in a lot of the cups with the content that people put in there. I find a lot of the bud to be average and I’m finding a lot of particulate in concentrates.
I find some shit where I could do better just walking into any old dispensary down the street sometimes.
I’m looking for the shit that makes you go “Wow!”. I’m looking for the exotics, the shit that stands out, what you’ve never seen. When you light it up it blows you away. I’m looking for that shit you just don’t get on the regular, day-to-day basis.
That’s what should be in a cup!