The Academy Awards of Cannabis: National Orange Show in San Bernardino

SAN BERNARDINO >> Attendees call it the Academy Awards of the cannabis industry.

For three days in April, the National Orange Show in San Bernardino will go up in smoke. Presented by High Times, a New York-based magazine, the 2016 U.S. Cannabis Cup hosts vendors, musicians and marijuana aficionados for three days of educational and cannabis-themed fun.

The event began Friday and is set to continue through Sunday, drawing crowds in the tens of thousands.

“I think people should come out here and see exactly what this industry is about,” said Dan Skye, editor-in-chief of High Times. “More and more people are understanding that this is a beneficial plant in so many different ways, whether you’re using it for recreation or medical benefits.”

Skye said he hopes to push marijuana into the mainstream, and de-stigmatize its use in American culture and politics.

“It’s no longer the banner of the counterculture. It’s mainstream business. A lot of investors are looking into it; Wall Street’s looking into it,” he said. “So High Times is trying to push it into the mainstream in our way as the leading brand in cannabis journalism.”

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Now in their sixth San Bernardino stay, Skye said they plan to hold two more events in the city this year.

“San Bernardino has been one of our easiest cups to run. The community opens its doors to us, and we’ve never had any problems with lawlessness here,” he said. “It’s a really polite crowd out there and we’re really pleased to be here, and we’re gonna be here on a permanent basis.”

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Each day, event organizers host panels focused on cannabis-related topics, including cultivation, the rebranding of marijuana and meet-and-greets with emerging cannabis-related company CEOs.

Danny Danko, senior cultivation editor at High Times, said the Cannabis Cup winner will be chosen by a panel of people, including medical patients, who aren’t affiliated with the companies who have entered.

The judges will test several hundred entries across different categories, including edibles, topicals and concentrates, which are then divided into sativa, indica and hybrids. Each category is capped at 60, because they only have about a week to judge the products.

Danko says they test each entry with for several factors, including flavor, effect and smell.

From a cultivation perspective, burnability — how well the grower grew the plant, underfed the plant or flushed out excess nutrients toward the end of the cycle — is crucial, Danko said.

“You know, it all gets you high — the effect is obviously very important — but as a connoisseur or aficionado or patient, the pleasurable experience is more important, especially now as things are becoming more and more legal,” he said. “There are more products, people are seeking out the things that call to them and have the flavor.”

All winners will be announced Sunday during a closing ceremony. Attendees must be age 18 and older. A doctor’s recommendation or California medical card is also needed to enter the medicating area on-site. For more information, visit www.cannabiscup.com.

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