Without a doubt one of the hardest things facing organizers who want to put on a cannabis judging event these days is finding a venue where people can smoke inside. With nearly every city in Canada having no-smoking bylaws it’s become an almost impossible task. In Saskatoon, the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup holds their three-day party at the downtown Odeon Event Centre, where for the last four years judges have been able to vaporize or dab inside but have had to go out to a tent in the alley to smoke joints or pipes.

This problem is compounded when also trying to find a place to book bands or acts to perform. At a recent event a pass holder was told they couldn’t bring their legal medicine into the venue and had to check it with the manager. Others were harassed essentially for carrying their judges’ packs.

So with those restrictions and issues in mind let’s look at what people really want in a major cannabis judging competition.


Of course people want good weed, the better the product you can provide for your guests the better their response. When judges are tweeting and putting up Facebook photos with comments about how awesome the samples are you’re getting instant confirmation that your guests are having a great time. This, then, is some of the best advertising you can get for your next event.

Presentation of the samples is too often overlooked — they are usually crammed into a small zip lock bags with crude numbers or letters written on them which are sometimes hard to read or rub off entirely. Not the Prairie Medicinal Harvest Cup, though. They took the time and care to place all the samples in clearly labelled, small plastic cups with lids ensuring that the buds would not get squished or squashed and would look as pristine as they could come event day. Kudos for that!

Every judge’s pack should be complete with every sample that’s on the ballot. It’s not a good way to start an event with judges wondering why they are short a sample and then wondering what else has been overlooked.

For added ‘wow’, above and beyond the judge’s ballot and samples, packs could include a pen, a magnifying glass of some kind, a lighter, papers, a small pipe, grinder, dabber, and alcohol wipes. These are just some of the things I’ve received in one judge’s pack or another but never all at once.


Start each day and event on time. It’s a piss poor excuse to keep paying guests waiting and blame it on ‘stoner time’. It makes you look like an amateur.

Now the question needs to be asked, a one day or a weekend event? That decision might be based on what venue(s) you are able to secure and for what date(s), and dates can be a problem with so many other events competing for people’s limited time and money.

The One Night Cup

Single-night weed or concentrate judging cups are of a specific type, geared towards local people and usually held at a vapour lounge or a private club.

My feeling is that these cups are more parties than a good representation of available product, but with consensus between attendees they still pass as cups. I’m also not a big fan of having my samples doled out to me on a time limited basis and would prefer to have a few days to examine the strains and retest any to be sure they are worthy.

But I won’t dismiss the good value these parties do offer to the local cannabis community. Running around $50 for a night of dabbing or smoking top-notch products with some well-known activists is a pretty good deal. And these one night events are often good fundraisers for worthy cannabis causes.

The Weekend Cup

A multi-day event requires more organization, with contracts signed preferably a year in advance. That way you can advertise your big draw acts and give people time to book travel and accommodations, vacation time, and babysitters or just get excited enough to get up off the couch.

Three day events are popular, with only two nights needing entertainment since the first night is often used as a meet-and-greet where cup goers can also pick up their judges’ packs.

One of the most overlooked aspects of cups these days seems to be food. For multi-day events I feel it’s worth considering having the whole thing catered by one company. Check around, depending on your preferred menu there may be lots of options. Don’t forget gluten-free and vegetarian/vegan options, and don’t go cheap at the expense of taste, always offer the best your budget can handle. Well fed people give good reviews.

If you choose not to have the event catered, consider having a dinner party on the second night at a private restaurant. Places with courtyards and back patios for smoking should be approached first.

Don’t discount a weekend camping-style event. ‘Puff Jam 2014’ was held at a replica frontier town about a three hour drive north of Toronto and was a great success with comedy acts, speakers and some great music from The Killing Time Band and others. A short Puff Jam promo video can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S265OlQLxAA

Another possibility is a ‘Cannabis Olympics’, a cup featuring cannabis-related games like the ‘Acrylic Bong Toss’, ‘50 Yard Bale of Soil Carry’ and ‘most elaborate joint’ or ‘eyeballing bud weight’ competitions. People love good fun competition and if it has a weed theme even better.

Finally entertain your guests with social activities like bowling, a boat cruise, laser tag, zip lining, maybe even bungee-jumping if you can find a company to work with you. Ask for sponsorship discounts, too.

And if your event is at multiple locations, look into having some kind of ground transportation arranged such as limos, buses or volunteers driving their own cars.

I hope to see more cannabis competitions in the future as it takes its place in mainstream culture.