A look inside Michigan’s biggest cannabis competition


Last week, I had the opportunity to drive out to Hazel Park and check out the inner workings of Michigan’s High Times Cannabis Cup. I arrived at the packing facility of High Times’ official intake partner, GreenPharm, and was greeted by a never-ending sea of boxes that were filled to the brim with THC-infused goodies. Hundreds of High Times-branded tie-dye tote bags lined the tables as a team of 12 staffers carefully packaged each bag with cannabis products. 

“This year’s Cannabis Cup People’s Choice is the biggest in the competition’s history. We plan for months and spend three weeks before the competition packing kits,” said Mark Kazinec, High Times’ vice president of events and competitions. “We’re excited to add additional categories this year, like Recreational Solvent Gummies and Non-Solvent Gummies as well as Medical Infused Prerolls, and have more participating dispensaries than ever before. None of this would be possible without the help of the dedicated and hardworking team that spends multiple hours per day packing the kits, the brands that are excited to participate year after year and the folks that help organize the logistics.”  

From mom-and-pop pot shops to multi-state operators, everyone is looking to compete for one of the most prestigious awards in the cannabis industry and get their products into the hands of new customers from across the state. This is the fourth Cannabis Cup People’s Choice competition to take place in Michigan, and it will include more judges and categories than ever before — in Michigan or anywhere else in the country — featuring 95 brands, 527 product entries and 115,000 grams of cannabis across almost two dozen categories. Brands like Local Grove, Cannaboys, Pressure Pack, ProGro, Afternoon Delite, Element and Ghostbudsters will be back to defend their titles. Almost 3,600 kits will be dispersed by the competition’s transport partner, JK Logix, and sold at 33 dispensaries and retailers around the state on Saturday (April 15).

“I had to create 690 manifests for this competition. That’s basically almost 700 compliant delivery routes to licensed retailers throughout the state,” said Joey Posney, director of competitions and events. “It’s a lot, but it’s really exciting stuff”.

After purchasing a judging kit, folks can access the online judging portal through the Cannabis Cup website. They’re expected to provide extensive feedback on each of the products in their selected category. Kazinec hopes that providing detailed information about each judge’s experience with a specific product will help better the cannabis scene in Michigan overall.

“We want to know exactly what each judge thought about each product. We want to know how everything tastes, how it smells, how it burns, what they did while consuming the product — all of this information is necessary so that at the end of the competition, we can return that feedback to each company. These companies can then take that information and produce even better products for the folks of Michigan,” Kazinec said.

Judges participating in the Cannabis Cup will have until June 25 to review and upload their feedback. If any products go unreviewed, judges could potentially be blacklisted from future competitions. 

“The judging kits aren’t just a bunch of sample-sized products at a cheap price. It’s an opportunity to try out some of the best cannabis from all around Michigan in an accessible way,” Kazinec said. 

Lansing stoners interested in accepting this responsibility can head over to Pure Options in Frandor on Saturday (April 15). This is Pure Options’ first time supplying judging kits, so folks are advised to be prepared for long lines and excited stoners (me included). 

I’ll continue to cover the Cannabis Cup as it unfolds over the next few months. What are your predictions for this year’s cup? Let me know on Instagram using the hashtag #Lansterdam.

Huge thank you to Mark Kazinec, Joey Posney, Lauracindy Dávila of Identity PR and the rest of the folks over at GreenPharms and High Times for inviting me out to Hazel Park and taking the time to chat with me about the competition. 


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