Marijuana growers compete in ‘cannabis cups’ despite risks
Photograph by: Norov Dmitriy , PROVINCE
Medical marijuana growers in Saskatchewan are preparing for a September competition that’s the latest in a series of friendly contests between growers across Canada.
But organizer Jeff Lundstrom said staying within the law and organizing these “cannabis cups” is difficult.
“It takes a lot of money, a lot of work and a lot of risk,” he said.
There are a few yearly contests in Vancouver and Toronto such as the Toronto Cannabis Cup and the Treating Yourself Expo, but Lundstrom said smaller contests in other cities often have trouble finding venues and sponsors.
“It’s hard to find a convention hall that will let you smoke marijuana in a closed environment,” he said. “And the authorities aren’t always friendly.”
Lundstrom is hoping to bring together medical marijuana growers from across the province to Saskatoon for the second Prairie Harvest Medicinal Marijuana Cup.
Judges will determine the best product from different strains of marijuana submitted by Health Canada-approved growers. Lundstrom also plans to host roundtable discussions on marijuana potency and policy.
For Lundstrom, who owns a head shop in Saskatoon called the Skunk Funk Smoker’s Emporium, the Harvest Cup is a labour of love.
“It’s a celebration of our freedom and what we believe is our choice,” he said. “I want everybody to know we’re not criminals. It’s just a celebration of something we think should be legal for everyone.”
But it’s not easy to buck the unsavoury reputation that marijuana cultivation engenders, Lundstrom said.
In fact, he said, most medical marijuana growers cultivate a small number of plants and don’t live like Tony Montana, or other supposed drug lords portrayed in Hollywood films.
“People are convinced that you profit from the production of cannabis,” Lundstrom said. “Growing weed is a very expensive and time-consuming ordeal. There’s nobody making it rich.”
Although medical marijuana is legal, possession is still illegal without a licence.
“It’s not an issue for police unless we receive a complaint in regard to it,” said Saskatoon police spokeswoman Alyson Edwards.
Lundstrom said although two of last year’s submissions were confiscated during shipping, the police generally leave him alone.
“We’ve made attempts to approach them about security and that kind of stuff, but their basic response is ‘We’re just not interested,'” he said. “As long as nobody’s complaining, there’s no reason for them to stir the pot.”
But Lundstrom said the police in other jurisdictions aren’t always so accommodating, which is one of the reasons cannabis competition are often a one-time event.
Lundstrom, a licensed medical marijuana user and grower, said the Prairie Cup is about more than just celebrating medical marijuana. It’s about Saskatchewan pride.
“There’s a lot of great farming and agriculture here,” he said. “That’s what we are, ganja farmers. That’s how I look at myself, as a farmer with roots and ties to Saskatchewan. It’s what has made me good at my job.”
The marijuana-growing competition is the only one of its kind in Saskatchewan.
“We’re simple people,” Lundstrom said. “We just enjoy growing our weed, sitting back and enjoying the sunset and the endless skies.”