It was the first high Times Cup in Oklahoma, and very likely the last.
The hype before the event wasn’t any bigger than past cannabis cups. Just your average instagram posts from local dispensaries and brands that were going to attend, telling customers and attendees to stop by their booth.
But what people anticipated, and what actually happened at the High Times Cannabis Cup in Oklahoma are two very different things. And not for the better.
High Times has always had a somewhat iffy reputation among the cannabis community, mainly for the company’s poor event planning year after year. Due to the nature of the event, hosting a cannabis cup in a medical only state can cause some problems on its own. Oklahoma happens to be a medical only state.
But that’s not all.
Oklahoma also has the most progressive and fastest growing medical cannabis industry in the country. The state’s medical laws allowed, and even encouraged, outside growers, processors and retailers to bring their experience and knowledge to the new state industry. And boy did they.
As it stands now, there are over 130,000 registered patients in Oklahoma, with over 1,300 dispensaries to service them. Oklahoma is the fastest-growing medical marijuana market in the average number of daily patient increases, and MMJ patients represent 4.1% of the state’s total population – one of the highest rates in the nation. Growth is bolstered by low barriers of entry, including the fact there’s no list of qualifying conditions for patients.
Unprepared, overwhelmed, and even dangerous
To say that the venue was under prepared for the first day of the Cannabis Cup would be a massive understatement. With a huge portion of attendees coming from out of state, and just as many in-state patients, Real Dirt sources on the ground estimated around 40,000 people in attendance.
Other than the fact that it was probably the largest cannabis cup attendance in history, it was also the largest shit show. VIP entrance began at noon, with hundreds of people waiting well past 2 PM to get in “early”. General admission began at 1 PM, which only added to the chaos. Thousands of people showed up at once, making parking a nightmare.
After the parking lots filled up in the first hour, attendees began parking down the street, some well over a mile from the venue. On top of that there were insanely long lines, stretching over half a mile around the outside of the venue, through the parking lot and beyond. Keep in mind this is in 80+ degree weather with extremely high humidity.
With excessive wait times, high heat and no water, people became very unhappy, very quickly, with plenty of evidence on Twitter.
One person eventually got into the event, only to find that there was hardly enough food or water for everybody:
Others spent all day just waiting in line:
But for a lot of people, the Oklahoma Cannabis Cup was reminiscent of the extremely hyped up, and extremely unsuccessful Fyre Festival:
While the High Times Cannabis Cup in Oklahoma may have been a huge success for the organizers and vendors that were able to make it, there were still hundreds if not thousands of people who paid for tickets and never even got into the venue. For those that got in however, the event was a blast and a great way to connect the local and national cannabis community in Oklahoma.
Day 2 of the Cup was inevitably less crowded due to many just avoiding it all together to save the hassle of another long day in line, and so it raises the question, will High Times be back to Oklahoma?
Probably. They vastly underestimated the Oklahoma cannabis community and the interest in cannabis in the state. If they High Times wants to return to Oklahoma, they will need to make some serious changes to the venue, entrance protocols and a lot more. If they do have another cup in Oklahoma, you can bet The Real Dirt will at least try to get in.