Attendees wait at the front of the VIP line to get in before doors open during the High Times Cannabis Cup at Denver Mart in Denver, Colorado on April 19, 2014. (Seth McConnell, The Denver Post)

Day One: U.S. Cannabis Cup in Denver (recap)

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The seminars. The schedule was thrown off by the late start (doors at noon instead of 11:00AM), and I checked in on the concentrates panel but totally missed most others. Don’t get me wrong: if you’re looking to understand how marijuana and the industry behind it functions, there’s a wealth of information to be gleaned. I’ve just heard a lot of it before, and from the same people. Concentrates (wax, oil, shatter, bubble, and probably some kind of inhaled gas at this point) are one area there’s always something new to be “up on,” and it was good to see the local Selecta Nikka T continue to get props for his innovations in the solventless arena. But with no one outside receiving any indication of when the next panels began, it was too much guesswork and trekking to bother.

The dabs. Titanium nails ruled the day, as people were lining up to get ridiculous with some of the most potent pot-ables. Some stations rang a bell as people did their first dab, with others like the pros at the TC Labs/TerpX/Gold Coast/Grateful Meds booth casually dropping chunks of hash on implements as if they were flyers from… well, anyone. While flower was abundant, too, there was simply too little time for most to wait for a standard rip or two of plain ‘ol ganja. That being said, the vaporizer station at Good Chemistry was one of the best if you wanted strong pot without a torch or a ten-minute delay.

The back booths. There’s a quiet desperation to being at the back of the Cup, trying to convince anyone to stop and buy a bong that looks like a coffee mug or a new security system. This is NOT where the big bucks are shelled out, so it’s truly the last vestige of what 4/20 used to represent. Small businesses and handmade goods used to dominate the weekend. Some guy from Oregon with a weird briefcase full of pipes that would probably break but were cheap was always around the corner. Unfortunately, most of the Cup goers headed back to the front (and cover) once the rain started.

The weather. Everyone saw it coming. It was a mild, overcast day, with a patch of nasty coming in from the north that was unmistakable headed for us. So at 4:15, when the sky officially opened up and people clamored for every inch of tent space, it was less Woodstock and more “Would you mind scooting over?” I took cover under a rack of tie-dyed T-shirts like a true coward. Yet by 4:20, the torrential downpour was far more tepid. So was the crowd. It came and went without an announcement — and that includes just any random guy yelling “FOUR TWENTY!!!” I get that it was 4/19, but come on. It was like we were standing around in Times Square and we had dropped the ball.

The aftermath. Being stuck in what I’ll call “cannabis cruise control” for a few hours — which drove every east coast bone in my body insane — it was a venerable ghost town once the rain stopped. People were lined up to get inside (with little movement) and so I was once again free to tent hop. But with displays packed up as the winds came in, and I’m sure what amounted to a few hundred dollars of general stuff ruined, exhibitors seemed to be gassed. Or just super stoned, wet, and cold. Either way, I called it early as I needed a meal of food and some rest for my everything.