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.