Last Night: The Cannabis Cup at Cafe Cocomo

Third Annual Cannabis Cup

Joseph Schell

Cafe Cocomo

Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2009

Better than: I don't remember.

Imagine a place where everyone around you is smiling and laughing--where warm oozy chocolate waterfalls flow like water, and all the snacks are bite-sized. Oh yeah, and you're high. Really really high.

For any medical marijuana card holders who attended San Francisco's 3rd Annual Cannabis Cup at Cafe Cocomo last night, that dream became a reality. From slick men in suits rolling in limos, Hummers and Benzes, to glass-bead wearing hippie-types with long dreads and "Vagitarian" t-shirts - people of all shapes and sizes came out for the nearly sold-out festivities last night. But by hour two, they all had one thing in common: mad cravings for some of that free cotton candy being handed out. 

Given the price of the tickets, it was mostly the upper echelon of pot connoisseurs who showed up to the contest, where 26 entrants had their strains tested and judged and pitted against one another for the grand prize -- a giant trophy and some serious street cred. Although many attendants came to San Francisco from the far reaches of Northern California, the name of the game last night was anything but competition. You could smell the peace, love, and happiness in the air (literally) from nearly a mile away from the Cafe. 

Joseph Schell

​Inside were a range of different booths to peruse, including one featuring a glass pipe the size of my arm. [As the pipe's maker, and owner, proudly showed the pipe to one customer, he slapped it in his palm like a baseball bat: "You could defend your home with this shit," he said. Then he pointed to the bowl: "You could eat your cereal in this shit."] Pot activists handed out pamphlets, and local dispensaries provided lounging areas for patients to medicate.

Joseph Schell
The spread.

​And then there were the food booths, which were trumped by the giant fondue fountain stacked on a mountain of dip-ables that included cream puffs, strawberries, and rice krispie treats. But of all the foods available (candy apples, popcorn, cotton candy, chocolates, potato chips, miniature sandwiches), only one booth was offering what I learned last night are called "mellow" brownies. When I asked what kind of "mellow," the baker didn't blink an eye: "70 percent Setiva, and 30 percent Indica."

In addition to the green party favors and tasty vittles, the Cannabis Cup also provides its supporters with entertainment. A salsa band played while two men on stilts wearing pot leaf masks and long skinny glowsticks tacked on their black attire lumbered over the crowd. It would have looked very cool if it wasn't so creepy. VIP patrons and judges toted green plastic gift baggies full of pot and paraphernalia (complimentary grinder, lighters, and rolling papers included), often balancing their giant spliff in one hand, and plate of munchies in the other.

Danielle, who would only give her first name, was both a judge and entrant in this year's contest. She told us that she had a little less than 4 hours left to taste and judge 26 different strains of pot before the winning strain was announced at 1 a.m.

"It's like a fine wine," she explained. "Each has a distinguished taste." She said that she can still tell the difference by the last sample. But can she tell the difference in affect? "Not really," she said.

Joseph Schell
​Critic's Notebook

By the way: Author and food enthusiast, Michael Pollan, had a serious doppelgänger working at a booth last night for the local chapter of a national pot activism group called Americans for Safe Access. I know you want us to be green, Pollan, but I didn't know you meant that kind of green.

Shout out: to Ed Grimsley of Calistoga who I met last night. If you're reading this, I will totally take you up on that UFO tour.

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