In spite of adult cannabis use being legal in Colorado, both Denver and Pueblo unequivocally said “no” to a Colorado Cannabis Cup this year.

High Times Magazine decided that the show must go on, and moved their pre-4/20 circus carnival celebration to San Bernardino, California at the last minute.

What resulted was a diverse and well-put-on consumer event that gave a glimpse of what the California summer will bring for commercial brands in medical cannabis.

The emphasis at High Times events is always on the audience having a great time, but like any event in the cannabis industry, there was big business going on behind the scenes. Well over a hundred vendors from up and down the state showed up to represent – as well as a few Colorado businesses who made the trip out in spite of canceled festivities in their home state.

To the naked eye, the festival appeared to be a major site for extreme overindulgence on concentrated cannabis extracts (dabs), however there were a lot of valuable takeaways from the show besides a spinning head and a hacking cough. Read on.

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Hub for Industry Education

In addition to the happy-go-lucky carnival vibe, there was a desire for knowledge that could be felt in the air. This was apparent in the crowds that waited patiently for talks in the seminar tent – outside the bounds of the “medicating areas.”

One of the first seminars was given by Dale Schafer, a northern California-based attorney who was incarcerated for several years for providing medical cannabis recommendations and medicine to sick people. He was only recently released from prison and has already done tremendous work educating business owners on the just-passed MMRSA licensing regulations.

NYC marketing and analytics firm sparks & honey debuted their research on the diverse journalistic and social media conversations happening around the cannabis culture.

A few industry panels took place, including one with notable cannabis company CEOs, and another featuring four women who are leaders in the healthy and nutritious cannabis foods movement.

On the last day, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) gave an inspiring speech in support of personal liberty to use cannabis – both medicinal and adult use. He has been instrumental in the long, difficult process of bringing the Republican Party up to speed with the cannabis movement and the rights of patients and adult users.

Having fun on the eve of 4/20 is important, but using that time to provide education to the masses was a refreshingly good idea.

Product Placement

Cannabis Cup winners are often regarded as top-tier brands in their niche for years to come. There’s a reason why these High Times events continue to draw so many amazing vendors: it’s been the number one consumer magazine for cannabis enthusiasts since its inception in the 1970s. If they vouch for a product, cannabis connoisseurs will most definitely want to try it.

View the full list of High Times Medical Cannabis Cup & Carnival winners.

While not everyone can be a cup winner, hosting a booth at one of these events can put products (and samples!) in front of thousands of card-holding patient consumers.

High-end and gourmet edibles took the spotlight, though companies are also churning out some impressive new school adaptations of classic mainstays like cannabis cookies, candy bars and brownies.

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Some notables in this space were second-place edible winner Altai Brands, Ganjalato medicated ice cream; Colorado transplants Incredibles, and the Muffin Man of Amsterdam.

Brands in the topicals industry were also extremely well-represented at the cup. Artisan Elixirs and third-place topical winner De la Beuh Body provided luxurious medicated treatments for the everyday bath and beauty routine.

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Gemstonz, a favorite at the last High Times cup, brought an organic and healthy vibe with newly updated packaging. Apothecanna, another Colorado brand recently expanded to the West Coast, also debuted redesigned packaging fit for beauty store shelves.

Big Year for Dispensaries

With MMRSA regulations going into effect on the municipal and state level within the next 19 months, dispensaries in California are finally looking at a legal framework in which to operate. The scramble to remain relevant in this market is evident in the excellent branding and business strategies that many of these collectives and cooperatives are executing.

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AHHS WeHo, or Alternative Herbal Health Services of West Hollywood.

Cannabis Reporters on the scene also took notice of vertical integration tactics being executed by several savvy companies.

In a vertically-integrated business model, a small-scale cultivation licensee could conceivably obtain a second license as a manufacturer, handling multiple aspects of production, cutting costs, and furthering the company brand.

Ruckers Supply was one such collective in the business of cultivating high-grade flower and extracting the oil into luxurious disposable vape pens. The Redwood Roots family from Humboldt also came out in full force with the Humboldt Mountain Organic brand of flowers.

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As licensing and normalization continue to progress on a local and municipal level, California cities will undoubtedly be the home of some of the finest cannabis retailers on earth.


The team at Cannabis Reports was simultaneously well-represented at HempCon in San Francisco. We love this community and the ever-evolving culture that accompanies our daily lives and careers.

Wishing a happy summer to all cannabis enthusiasts, and as always, gearing up for more industry events. Stay Tuned!