Cannabis Cup Coming To The Mat Su

Contributed by Josh Fryfogle

High Times Cannabis Cup Alaska
August 11-12, 2018  
VIP 12PM, General: 12:30PM
Settlers Bay Golf Course
7307 S Frontier Dr. Wasilla
Tickets: $45-$140

For decades and around the world, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough has been known as a cannabis cultivation capital - long before the prohibition was lifted and the taxes enacted. In fact, one particular strain of cannabis (MTF) that carries in its acronym the ‘Matanuska’ namesake, is particularly popular - and potent.

High Times Magazine has been at the forefront of the cannabis culture in America since 1974, and as an independent publisher, I respect their chutzpah. When they started expressing themselves, it wasn’t like it is today, with countless spin-off cannabis publishers - although, it could be argued that prior to cannabis prohibition, all publications, no matter their topic, used hemp in their paper stock. But I digress.

While High Times Magazine is certainly a bastion of the free press and cannabis conversation, it is a result of those times, in the 1970s, when we were still stomping on people’s constitutional rights - and sometimes on the People - over a plant. Now, of course, many have argued that smoking cannabis is not mentioned in the constitution; but the fact remains, the constitution was drafted on hemp paper.  

It’s this hidden history of cannabis that High Times has revealed over the decades (along with some choice nuggets of cultivator culture), and now, in this rising Golden Age of cannabis reintegration, High Times’ readers and leaders are rightfully celebrating.

Every year since 1988, High Times hosts the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, but also has expanded that brand to select locations, like Settlers BayGolf Course in the Mat-Su Valley, as expanding legalization has reduced the threat of harm or injury to cannabis consumers.  It’s an event that draws thousands of attendees, who celebrate their ability to consume a plant without fear of violence - and that’s something, as Americans, we can all feel good about!

I spoke with Amos Stephens, GM/Super Intendant of Golf Course Operations, while he was weeding the herb garden where the facility grows mint and basil for their signature cocktails.  We discussed how having an event like this, at a venue like Settlers BayGolf Course, helps to break the stigma that’s been placed on some of our neighbors.

“These are customers too, there’s no need to segregate them, put them above or below anyone else. I cater to whoever wants to buy my product - and I just so happen to have a venue that people like to use,” he said.

As we spoke about the event, Stephens made it a point to say, “You have to give tremendous credit to Kerby Coman, his vision...”. Coman is the owner of Green Degree, a local cannabis retailer, and part owner of Hempire Co., a hemp-derived CBD company on Main Street in the city limits of Wasilla.

Reaching out to Coman to talk about the event, he had some exciting news, “I’ve been in contact with all of the government agencies regarding this legislation to allow licensed cannabis establishments (cultivators, retailers, manufacturers and testing facilities) to actually bring product to a trade show - not actually sell it, but to showcase it.”

Until now, no cannabis business in Alaska has been able to LEGALLY show their product at an event of any kind. This regulation has been going through the processes it must in order the be put into effect after the MCB (Marijuana Control Board) voted to pass it, and Coman was happy to report that the regulation had indeed been signed, going into effect on August 11, just in time for the Cannabis Cup.

“It will be the very first time that any cannabis establishment will be able to actually bring product out to showcase,” said Coman.

Cannabis Cup is a connoisseur’s event.  A VIP team of judges taste-test the products from various horticulturalists - this time Alaskan growers - and pass around awards to those who have been able to cultivate the plant to certain criteria. These awards are highly coveted, of course, and the Alaskans who win these awards will surely see further rewards, as their strains will be sought after.  The bragging rights for these winners will equate to increased sales at local cannabis retailers, and increased price points, too.

In addition to the cannabis contest, the music performances at this High Times’ Cannabis Cup will be of the highest caliber. Redman and Method Man are already set to perform - these two hip-hop all stars are known for their cannabis advocacy and creative credentials. With millions of fans, and millions of followers online, these hip-hop heavy weights are a rare treat for the Alaskan audience.

Iration, a happy, reggae group that hails from Hawaii, will also bring that signature sound to the Settlers Bay Golf Course, where there is plenty of room to move and dance. This group also has millions of listeners around the world, and of course, reggae is a style of music that has traditionally celebrated cannabis, drawing from the Rastafari religious tradition that makes use of both the music and the ‘ganja’.

The confluence of music and cannabis is as old as both.  This event will bring those two together, between the mighty Matanuska and Susitna rivers, for two days at Settlers Bay Golf Course.  There will be shuttles available, with parking at the Menard Center in Wasilla, and free transport to and from the event.