Reports from the 'High Times' Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio


On Saturday we set out to check out the High Times Medical Marijuana Cup in Clio, Mich. — High Times did hold a Cannabis Cup in the Motor City back in 2011, but Detroit police flexing their muscles and making arrests at that event may have been to blame, at least partially, for the choice of a new host city. The event was held this year at the Auto City Speedway, (also known as "B.F.E." to Detroiters). Nevertheless, the prospect of stopping at the Torch for the best burger in the Genessee County was compelling — and anyway, this was the Cannabis Cup we were talking about. Was it really going to be "work?"

It turned out, just a little bit. An inexplicable lack of an on-site ATM meant hiking quite a ways up the road to the nearest gas station, and then waiting for an attendant to restock the ATM with cash. We spoke with plenty of Cannabis Cup attendees at the gas station — everybody knows that the local gas station is a stoner's best-friend.

The two-day festival, for which one-day tickets were sold for $40, was divided into two sections — a general area and a medicating area. Possession of a medical marijuana card (from Michigan or any of the other 23 states that issue them) got you a coveted red wristband, granting access to the medicating area. Inside, one could sample a variety of wares, from edibles to hash oil and more.

But in truth, there wasn't a whole lot to do if you didn't have a medical marijuana card — some political-leaning booths and a few vendors. There were more booths inside the medicating area, and not all of them were dedicated to samples — some were simply selling glassware and other paraphernalia.

High Times' Danny Danko earlier described it as a "county fair" type of set-up to judge and award the best of regional pot's offerings — instead of livestock and produce, kudos would be given to the best strains. There did not appear to be an emphasis on local vendors, as we spoke with people from all over the country, such as a small company from Pennsylvania which sold bongs made out of recycled liquor bottles.

High Times staff were in attendance to give seminars on various aspects of the industry (though asking a person in a High Times staff T shirt where the seminar room was located minutes before Danko was set to begin yielded nothing but a confused look.) In fact, most of the people we spoke with seemed to be involved in the industry in some way — either selling paraphernalia, involved with dispensaries, or engaged in political activism. There didn't appear to be many people who were there just for a good time, though we did speak with one man (under the bleachers, of course) who said as much, disappointed that he couldn't get into the medicating area without a card. Put another way, our time at the Cannabis Cup was not a giant party.

The most remarkable — and important — thing about Cannabis Cup, though, may actually have been just how unremarkable it was. It wasn't another occasion like the Hash Bash (err, sorry, "Monroe Street Fair") to fire up VW bus and get baked (although the air was indeed visibly smokier and more festive when 4:20 struck). For the most part, the Cannabis Cup was really a totally normal expo — almost indistinguishable from the kind that just about every industry has, sleepily hosted in venues like, say, the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi with little buzz or fanfare.

And that would appear to be aligned with the overall view of the state of marijuana in 2014. Interviews with High Times' Danny Danko and Alise McDonaugh revealed professionals who are dedicated and serious about advancing "the right to consume cannabis" as Danko told us earlier this week. And as MT's Larry Gabriel has noted in his Higher Ground column, every time pot is on the ballot in Michigan, it passes. Coincidentally, on Saturday The New York Times called for the federal legalization of marijuana as part of the beginning of a six-part series called "Repeal Prohibition, Again." Thanks to High Times, times might actually be changing — quietly.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.