Just say whoa 

I assume the marijuana subculture is a foreign entity to most San Antonio Current readers. You are no doubt five-figure-a-year, God-fearing, upstanding members of society. When you hear the term “dope,” the first things that come to mind are the Manson Family murders, Dr. Dre, and teenagers stealing money from their parents’ wallets. Make no mistake — these are all horrible byproducts of the cannabis culture, but there is so much more to get righteously indignant about. In order to shine a blazing light on this seedy underbelly, I traveled into the heart of darkness: High Times’ 22nd annual Cannabis Cup, November 22-26, in Amsterdam!

The Cannabis Cup is the Mecca of pot culture. But, at the Cup, instead of circling in one direction around a sacred stone, pilgrims aimlessly wander until they find a vaporizer or a cold Sierra Mist. Seed companies bring carefully cultivated strains of marijuana from around the world to compete for first-, second-, and third-place honors. This in turn brings High Times magazine publicity, readers, and big electric-bong and pee-scrubbing advertising revenues.

The event was located in a nondescript warehouse behind a giant grocery store. Arriving at the front entrance, I told the friendly fellow checking badges I was press and from Texas. He asked whom I talked to about obtaining press badges. “Phoenix420@yahoo.com,” I said. “Oh, yeah, Steve!” the ponytailed gentleman replied. Phoenix420 arrived, and we were in: all access.

As I entered I encountered some Cuppers coughing uncontrollably, as if they had just exited a blazing fire. I offered assistance, but they insisted I leave them alone. Then I spotted a resplendent green glow emanating from a young man lighting a water bong at the Wicked USA laser exhibit. Finally, I thought, the breakthrough in bong technology we’ve all been waiting for.

Chris Tao, Wicked Lasers development manager, explained to me that this solid-state laser technology, recently developed by the Japanese, is used to ignite the herbs in a relatively non-toxic manner — then, I suspect, to burn a hole in your friend’s eye with a high-energy laser beam or to distract airline pilots from thousands of feet below.

The Cup is a cornucopia of dangerously exotic varieties of cannabis, on display and available for sampling: White Widow. Purple Haze. White Rhino. Sour Diesel. I met one fellow who claimed marijuana has “magic healing” powers. After open-heart surgery, Soma Seeds owner Soma was prescribed a plethora of high-priced American pharmaceuticals, which he discontinued in favor of cannabis.

“I took `pharmaceuticals` for a few months, and I go, ‘I think if I take this I’m gonna die, man,’” Soma said as he puffed on his So Diesel blend. “The only thing I do is cannabis, and you should see my checkups!”

The assault on my values continued with an onslaught of pot propaganda, like the documentary The Emperor’s New Clothes, which trotted out the same, tired pot factoids you hear in all the hip-hoppy rap songs: “George Washington’s men would have frozen to death if it weren’t for their blankets and clothes made entirely of hemp. Nor could we have had the materials to make the parachutes and engine lube required to fight 

Sure, hemp was instrumental in defending our liberty in the past, but so was the Constitution, and you don’t see us using that anymore.

I was ready to go back to the hotel and curl up in bed with Trace Adkins on my headphones and Glenn Beck on the tube. But before I had a chance to leave, three Latino boys in baggy clothes appeared in front of the crowd — none other than Nevada’s own Los Marijuanos! These guys are the Cypress Hill of the 21st century — not your daddy’s Cypress Hill. Their lyrics are prophetic and haunting: “I’ve got that fire-fire, for your desire-sire. I’ll take you higher-higher ... ,” and they effortlessly blended technical skill with frequent stops to plead with the spaced-out sound guy to turn up the volume. Frontman Pony Boy cleverly referred to the audience as “My nuggets!”

After watching Los Marijuanos perform, something changed in me. I no longer felt I had to look down on people for wearing condiment-stained tie-dye, and could empathize with those who chose to smoke cannabis instead of taking immune-system-suppressing prescription drugs. Pony Boy taught me that we are little stems and flakes individually, but together we are all one giant nugget. Maybe Cannabis Cup isn’t just a High Times marketing ploy after all. I left groggy and disoriented, but with an open mind.

Amsterdam’s Greenhouse Café won first prize for its Lemon Haze, a strand sure to make you forget your gloves and various personal effects back at the bar. Sadly, the Dutch government wants to start regulating the sale and use of cannabis in Amsterdam, and the future of the Cannabis Cup is uncertain (although plans are already under way at hightimes.com for CC 2010). Don’t sit idly by and let this tradition fade away. Pick up the phone, call your Dutch representatives, and demand they deliver you a pizza with pepperoni, extra cheese, frosting — whole lot of frosting — and ... Funyuns ... yeah. 

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