The definition of red tape is…
The excessive bureaucracy or adherence to rules and formalities, especially in public business.’ “Meaning, this law will just create more red tape.”
On October 21, 2016 the City of Toronto attempted to halt a controversial cannabis competition by revoking their outdoor tent license, and threatening their rented property owner.
It was only due to the last minute orchestration and coordination of quick thinking organizers Sarah Sunday and Tracy Curley that the event was still able to take place.
The Karma Cup is an all-weekend, elite cannabis and hash festival held annually in Toronto. In it’s third year running, the two-day Canadian event took place October 22 – 23. It entailed a nationwide judged cannabis competition, a vip gala dinner, discussion panels, speakers, and a large vendor area.
Due to the nature of the festival, the city’s current standpoint on cannabis, and the negative outcome of the venue scenario, organizers were forced to adapt, and change their set plans into a last minute scramble.
Originally planned to be held at Polson Pier… After a lot of hardship and hard work, a new plan for alternative venues came into play. Karma Cup events would be split between three places:
1) ‘The 512’ (an empty parking lot) on Church Street made a great vendor village/free market.
2) Vapor Central, the Yonge Street vaping lounge hosted the NORML discussion panels.
3) A space inside 170 Spadina Avenue held the gala dinner and comedy show which due to all the external circumstances had to be switched from October 21 to October 22.
Venue locations were released online early Saturday morning and well before 10:00 a.m. a line-up was formed outside downtown Church Street. Thousands of people flocked to the vendors while hundreds of others attended the discussions. The VIP Gala was an incredible hit, the comedians were on-point, and the dinner and desserts were ‘lit AF,’ as the kids say these days.
Saturday Discussion Panels:
Saturday began with opening introductions by Craig (AKA ‘the Expert) from Expert Joints and Adela Falk (AKA Weed Woman) from the United States. Together, they created an open discussion about the medical cannabis industry in both Canada, and the U.S.
After the main festival introductions there was a short panel intro by NORML’s Executive Director Craig Jones (PhD). NORML is the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada. Their slogan is ‘Stop the arrests and prosecutions now!’
“It is a moral imperative,” says Jones.
The 11:30 a.m. discussion panel featured Canadian cannabis activists Hilary Black, Amy Brown, Don Briere, and Dana Larsen (left to right). The topic of discussion was civil disobedience, and was moderated by activist Paul Lewin.
The 2:00 p.m. discussion panel featured more Canadian cannabis activists John Conroy, Hilary Black (again), Jodie Emery, Ian Culbert, and John Fowler (left to right). The topic of discussion was legalization, and was moderated by activist Alan Young.
Dana Larsen was in attendance throughout the weekend. Larsen is a Canadian author, politician, and cannabis legalization activist. In addition to his 5:00 p.m. discussion at Vapour Central a collection of his books were for sale at ‘the 512.’ In Spring/Summer of 2017, Larsen plans to launch his second instalment of OverGrow Canada. He originally gave away 2.5 million cannabis seeds and plans to give away approx. 5 million more.
“I gave away seeds across the country, and it really went beyond my wildest dreams,” said Larson. “You know… While on my tour, getting arrested in Calgary, it was actually the best thing that could have happened. It really helped get so much media attention, it drew a lot of awareness, and it really helped us surpass our target. We all just basically had a lot of fun.”
By 5:30 p.m., the final speaker of the day was Mat Beren from House of the Great Gardener. Beren has been working with compassion clubs for over a decade, and gathers the best medical strains available according to his patient’s needs.
“The weed that’s being grown today is the best weed that has ever been grown,” said Beren. “But I think sometimes too much government regulation can get in the way of that.”
Saturday VIP Gala Dinner/Comedy Show
As part of a large evening buffet, everything existed from kabobs and potatoes to breads and salads with a wide selection of drinks to wash it all down. If the food wasn’t good enough, an assortment of signature ‘Bossy Cakes’ were being served on the menu for dessert. The strawberry cheesecake was a definite highlight of the night.
A variety of local comics performed stand-up for the 250+ crowd as they ate, drank, and smoked weed throughout the night. Among others, acts included the hilarious host Chris Robinson, and very funny stand-up comics Hunter Collins, and Jarrett Campbell.
That was easily the best party 170 Spadina Avenue had ever seen, most definitely!
Saturday/Sunday Vendor Village/Free market:
Known as ‘the 512,’ the centralized Church Street parking lot played last minute host to the Karma Cup‘s vendor’s village. Diamond Concentrates, House of the Great Gardener, and Thompson Caribou were just a few of the many Canadian businesses who rented a table.
The Kurupt and Dr. Zodiak’s Moon Rock is a new and popular product in the cannabis market. Tiffany Roy, Sales Manager and Jodi Howard, Sales Associate supplied information on their products, and the locations in which they are sold.
“It’s an ‘OG’ bud, it’s wrapped in Co2 oil, and then it’s powdered in keif. So it’s like a trifecta of fun things to get you going, and it gets you high as shit,” said Roy. “We’re out of Vancouver, and just started over there. This is actually our first month in the Canadian market, and we’ve already been dominating. We’re online, we’re now in Toronto, and we are moving across really quickly. Right now you can find some of our products at select Cannabis Culture locations.”
Sunday Discussion Panels:
The 10:00 a.m. Women and Cannabis panel featured Charlene Freedom, Lisa Campbell, Sarah Gilles, and moderator Abigail Sampson. Women Grow networking events help to connect aspiring and current professionals in the cannabis industry across Canada.
Among others, the 11:00 a.m. discussion panel featured Canadian activists Amy Brown, and Erin Goodwin. Goodwin is a partial owner of Cannabis Culture, arrestee of the Project Claudia police raids, and valued member of the cannabis industry.
The 12:30 p.m. discussion panel featured Canadian activists Sarah (House of the Great Gardener), Jose Dominguez (a master Canadian grower), and Mat Beren (left). The topic of discussion was craft cannabis, and was moderated by John Vergados (right)
The 1:30 p.m. discussion panel featured brand and marketing specialist Alison Gordon. Gordon is a branding strategist and specializes in the medical cannabis industry.
“You know, one of the things I’ve often done throughout my marketing career is look to the U.S. What are people doing there… Or in Europe?” Said Gordon. “Say wait. There’s an interesting thing their doing there, how can we do that here? It’s very easy to find gaps like that in the marketplace if you are looking for new business ideas.”
Hosted by Sunday and ‘the Expert,’ the VIP closing ceremonies began just after 2:00 p.m. They opened with the Michelle K. Rainey Gala Award. Rainey was an industry warrior, and known to some as the marijuana princess. She sadly passed away in 2010 after a long and tough battle with cancer. The entire Canadian cannabis industry loves and misses her deeply.
Following the beautiful tribute was the awards ceremony. One-by-one, competition winners accepted their trophy’s while prizes and give-aways were tossed into the crowd. Attendees seemed to have had a good time over the weekend as they all had a huge smile on their face.
“It was super successful! I was very impressed with everyone involved… My team was amazing, and we really pulled it out. This is a great event for Toronto, and a great event for the cannabis community,” said Sunday. “Everybody was uniformly happy, I’ve had lots of support… and I’m just delighted. It’s definitely the biggest event we’ve had, by far. It’s been an interesting journey and I am super happy now to be at the end of it.”
This year’s competition featured 15 categories with 131 entries. Dozens, maybe hundreds of people pre-purchase judging kits including everything from cannabis to hash, concentrates to topicals, m-edibles, and various heady glass works of art.
For a complete listing of competition categories, entries, and winners please visit www.dankr.ca. Dankr is a budding cannabis website and features fresh online Toronto-based content.
To anyone I forgot to mention, sorry if I missed you… Until next year!