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One hit wonder: San Luis Obispo holds first cannabis competition 

Tucked away off Avila Beach Drive, marijuana smoke wafts into the breeze on a beautiful Saturday in July.

click to enlarge A GROWING COMMUNITY Thirty-seven local growers and 26 extractors competed in the first SLO Cannabis Cup on July 22, hosted by nonprofit SLO County NORML. - PHOTOS BY ERICA HUDSON
  • Photos By Erica Hudson
  • A GROWING COMMUNITY Thirty-seven local growers and 26 extractors competed in the first SLO Cannabis Cup on July 22, hosted by nonprofit SLO County NORML.

I'm standing in the middle of a dirt patch on Monte Road, and the SLO Cannabis Cup hosted by SLO County NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) is just beginning. While cities such as Portland, Reno, and Denver have had cannabis expositions before, this is the first of its kind to hit the Central Coast. Local marijuana growers and collectives are gathering to showcase their best and smoke out the competition, but I'm here to sample the buffet.

click to enlarge CLOWNING AROUND Clowns with Megan's Organic Market did cannabis-themed face paints for guests at the SLO Cannabis Cup. - PHOTOS BY ERICA HUDSON
  • Photos By Erica Hudson
  • CLOWNING AROUND Clowns with Megan's Organic Market did cannabis-themed face paints for guests at the SLO Cannabis Cup.

There's a subtle irony in the weather. It's a clear, sunny day—ideal smoking conditions—but the gentle wind makes it difficult to spark a lighter. Sitting in the dead grass, I retreat my face inside of my friend's backpack to light a bowl. A reggae band is just beginning to play, and we've sat down to take a moment to brace ourselves for the long, stoney day ahead. With plenty of water and snacks on hand, we're ready to take on the cup.

We're waiting to enter the main area, and I laugh as I see that several people are dressed in their marijuana-themed best. Garlands of fake (and real) marijuana leaves adorn the necks of a few attendees, while others sport socks, T-shirts, and hats stamped with colorful pot-leaf prints. Inside, there's even more people (and critters) dressed to match the theme, including an adorable French bulldog in a shirt that reads, "I love Weed!" (Although it was referring to Weed, Calif., I believe it still applies here.)

At first glance, the cluster of pop-up tents intimidates me. With the myriad marijuana booths before me, how will I last for more than an hour without falling asleep? As I make my way around to test out every flower, concentrate, and edible I can get my hands on, I can't help but notice how friendly everyone is. People of various ages, styles, and smoking preferences are gathering for the love of Mary, and everyone seems pretty happy to be doing so. Maybe we're all just stoned out of our minds, but either way, I'm enjoying meeting such friendly folks.

click to enlarge BLOOMING BUDS Slocal Roots Farms showed off a marijuana plant arrangement. - PHOTOS BY ERICA HUDSON
  • Photos By Erica Hudson
  • BLOOMING BUDS Slocal Roots Farms showed off a marijuana plant arrangement.

I didn't expect to be getting some of the best customer service I've had in a while at the Cannabis Cup either, which is a plus. When I go shopping, I want the sales associate who's knowledgeable but not overbearing in their approach, which can be difficult to find. Every vendor here is especially kind, genuine, and eager to educate the attendees on cannabis, and I feel very comfortable asking questions. Plus, I can't think of another industry that's given me as many free goodies, definitely an extra bonus.

With THC-infused snacks all over the place, the only problem is deciding which to try first, or in what order. From truffles to dog treats, there is something here for every palate. Cannabis-infused drinks, elotes, Rice Krispy treats, cookies, and assorted chocolates are all present. I even got a hibiscus bath bomb infused with 100 milligrams of THC. My personal favorites of the day are desserts: a mango sorbet popsicle from Yesca Bros Creamery and a vegan dark chocolate tart topped with raspberries made by Baceae Cannabis Confections. Δ

Editorial Intern Erica Hudson does not consume marijuana at the New Times' offices. Send comments to Arts Editor Ryah Cooley at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.


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