The High Times 2011 Cannabis Cup event is the most famous semi-public pot party in the world. Thousands of marijuana lovers trek to Amsterdam at Thanksgiving time to smoke massive amounts of Dutch marijuana, listen to bands like Cypress Hill, meet marijuana icons like Tommy Chong and Snoop Dogg, and judge marijuana to see if it is worthy of the vaunted Cannabis Cup awards.
But this year’s fun has been zapped: an army of Dutch police entered the High Times Cannabis Cup venue on Wednesday afternoon (November 23). Police delivered ominous warnings in several languages, locked the doors to the venue and did a “deep search” of everyone at the Cup; reports say participants were stripped of their marijuana and other “contraband,” and then freed.
Dutch hashish legend Mila, a female pioneer credited with making the Pollenator hash machines, was reportedly arrested because she was allegedly in possession of marijuana trimmings that she was going to use in a hashish-making demonstration. Other than Mila, there are no reports of other arrests.
“This is a straight-up robbery,” said 420Dave, a third year Cannabis Cup veteran. “They just held us hostage and stole all our weed, our seeds, our pipes. I lost at least $500 worth of stuff. I used to think the Dutch were so cool, now I see that they are Nazis. They are just as bad as back in the USA.”
Apparently, the police placed undercover and uniformed observers inside the Cannabis Cup venue. They had allegedly observed violations of Dutch law, including Cannabis Cup vendors providing cannabis to Cup participants. The free providing of cannabis is something that happens every year at the Cannabis Cup, so many people are wondering why it suddenly became “unacceptable” and raid-worthy this year.
This alleged distribution of marijuana prompted police to raid the Cannabis Cup and order it shut down. However, High Times carried on with an evening concert, as well as the final day of the event, and later posted a Cannabis Cup award list that you’ll see at the end of this article.
According to observers at the scene on Thursday (the day after the raid), a senior police official was again harassing the Cup, warning High Times management that the Cannabis Cup was allegedly still in violation of regulations, and was in danger of being shut down again. It was a miracle that the event continued at all, given the relentless pressure from Dutch police.
Some Cup participants said they were unable to find out exactly what was going on.
“The High Times people couldn’t get their stories together. One would tell you the raid was because the Dutch just don’t want Americans coming to the country for weed and they are sending a message. Another would say that it was because the people who organized the Cup didn’t get the right paperwork or something and that everything was just fine and the Cup would relocate to somewhere else in Amsterdam. I told them well when you’re searched and asked to show your identification documents, it isn’t fine, it isn’t what I came to Holland for,” said 420Dave.
“I was standing outside waiting for the High Times bus that takes you to the Cannabis Cup when the driver pulled up and said to us ‘Don’t get on, the Cannabis Cup has just been raided.’ If I had gone a little earlier, I would have been inside the Cup when the raid happened,” reports Big Buds Josh, editor of Big Buds, the world’s most cultivation-friendly online marijuana magazine.
The unprecedented raid on the 2011 High Times Cannabis Cup comes in the context of a darkening cloud of prohibition that is hanging over Holland.
Ever since the country’s political scene turned hard right after the 9-11 terrorist attacks in the United States, the Dutch people have elected ultra-conservative, anti-marijuana politicians from the Christian Democrat Appeal (CDA) and other conservative political parties.
The right-wing coalition vowed to destroy the Dutch marijuana industry, and they’re doing a pretty good job of it. Since the CDA took over, the number of Dutch marijuana shops has been reduced by more than half, and some Dutch cities have closed all marijuana shops, or already restricted them to Dutch citizens.
In the past two years, the Dutch federal government has publicly and repeatedly stated its desire to ban all foreigners from Dutch marijuana coffee shops as of 2012, to regulate marijuana so that marijuana shops cannot sell marijuana with more than 15% THC, to decrease the number of marijuana shops, and to eradicate the Dutch homegrown marijuana industry.
Indeed, Dutch police have adopted North American drug warrior tactics, using helicopters, electricity records, narks, monetary rewards for snitches, undercover officers, and other strategies to harm the Dutch marijuana cultivation industry.
“This is a terrible time for the Netherlands, this attack on the High Times Cannabis Cup,” said Hendrik, a Dutch cannabis seed breeder, marijuana grower and activist. “The cannabis coffeeshop industry, the growing industry, the hydroponics industry, and the Cannabis Cup itself all bring billions of Euros per year to our country. It is just insane that the police have done this raid. Why can’t they leave our culture alone? We are peaceful people.”
High Times has always walked a fine line to host the Cannabis Cup ever since it started. While many marijuana breeders and marijuana coffee shops embrace the event, other Dutch marijuana entrepreneurs and activists have long opposed the Cannabis Cup, saying it brings too many marijuana tourists and too much notoriety.
Especially as the Dutch government has recently pressured the mayor of Amsterdam to go along with the federal government’s plan to ban foreigners from marijuana shops, many Amsterdam marijuana businesspeople have worried that the 2011 Cannabis Cup might be the last one, or that it might get raided. Our Cannabis Cup articles on Big Buds repeatedly warned people that this year’s Cannabis Cup might be the last, and High Times seems to have anticipated it: they’ve been holding Medical Cannabis Cup events in North America.
Many Medical Cannabis Cup participants say that the America-based High Times events offer better cannabis and more safety than the Amsterdam event. The Amsterdam raid proves their point, although USA High Times Medical Cannabis Cups have also been hassled by police. In October, 2011, police invaded the High Times Medical Cannabis Cup in Detroit, Michigan. They didn’t arrest anybody for marijuana, but several people received ludicrous infraction tickets for paraphernalia (see the video below)
The Detroit police presence bummed out many of the Medical Cup’s thousands of participants, most of whom are legal medical marijuana patients in compliance with Michigan’s medical marijuana law, which is currently under serious threat due to Michigan’s marijuana-hating attorney general, Bill Schuette.
In Holland, High Times has been seen by some as an American organization trying to profit from Dutch cannabis policy.
“We have mixed feelings about the Cannabis Cup,” said a Dutch marijuana shop owner who never participated in the High Times event. “It is nice to see the Americans having fun over here and some seed breeders and cannabis sellers get more known. But the High Times party is known as a loud and wild event, and that attracts the wrong kind of attention. They moved the Cup to another location this year, and that might have contributed to the raid.”
Here is the list of this year’s High Times Cannabis Cup winners:
1. Barney’s Coffeeshop for Liberty Haze
2. Green House United for Hawaiian Snow
3. The Green Place for Buddha Tahoe
1. Reserva Privada (Colorado) for Kosher Kush
2. Hortilab for Star Bud
3. Cali Connection for Tahoe OG
1. Rare Dankness Seed Co for Moonshine Haze
2. THSeeds for Electric Lemon G
3. Karma Genetics for Dominator
1. (tie) DNA Genetics/Reserva Privada Colorado for
Holy Grail Kush
2. Cali Connecion for Dead Head OG
3. Serious Seeds for AK-74
Seed Company Hash Cup
1. Cali Connection for Tahoe OG Kush Wax
2. Hogg Seeds for Hydrahash
3. Reserva Privada Colorado for Rascal OG Nelson
Import Hash Cup
1. Green House Coffeeshop for Exodus Cream Cheese
2. Barney’s Coffeeshop for Caramella Cream
3. The Green Place for Twizla
Dutch Hash Cup
1. Barney’s Coffeeshop for Liberty Melt
2. Green House for Hawaiian Ice
3. Grey Area for Grey Cristal
When you see the list of winners, you’re seeing one of the most valued aspects of the High Times Cannabis Cup- the honoring of impressive strains of marijuana, and powerful marijuana concentrates. When a seed breeder wins a Cannabis Cup, sales and value of their strains go sky high!
Obviously, the raid of the High Times Cannabis Cup is a sad, cruel day for the marijuana community worldwide. And the gradual erosion of Dutch marijuana freedom is likely to cost the country billions of dollars in lost canna-tourism revenue. We all wonder why peaceful people and plants are under threat. Didn’t the Dutch police have anything more useful to do than persecute a bunch of marijuana lovers?