OKLAHOMA CITY, Oklahoma, August 24 - The years of anticipation for today can not be expressed in mere words. Growing up as a high school kid in the 80’s, I was bombarded by Nancy Reagan and Mr. T telling me to Just Say No! So as a rebellious teenager, I just said yes. And said it a lot. I loved the way cannabis made me physically feel better and mentally more creative with my writing and art. It’s safe to say I have been a fan of the leaf since 7th grade. My love for the plant has only grown over the last 35 years. High Times was the TV Guide to the forbidden world of cannabis. I longed to see the centerfold and read the articles on this month's amazing strain. My favorite sections almost always related to their many, many competition cups. The Superbowl of weed. Thirty years ago, the idea of being able to attend a High Times Cannabis Cup in Oklahoma in my lifetime was right up there with teleportation and mind reading. Not going to happen. Well, it happened. And like most things related to Cannabis in Oklahoma, it happened fast. Real fast. To some people, too fast.
I always arrive at conventions (cannabis, comic book or gaming) early. I typically find myself walking around an empty convention lobby empty parking lot waiting for the staff or other early-bird attendees to show. The line of cars at the entrance when I arrived conveyed to me immediately that others follow that rule as well. As expected, Oklahoma loves its cannabis and cannabis-related lifestyle. The slow but steady movement of us early arrivals was a cautious but friendly sign that those in charge knew what to do.
As you are directed to your designated patch of grass between two oak trees to park, you start to second guess your earlier feelings of content. This was followed by a short hike to the main gate which included navigating through a minefield of various “find the pea” hustle games. The feeling of something amiss grows louder.
I arrive at the gate to find I am about 25th back from the front. Then I discovered that I am in the VIP line. Switch lines and now I am 18 from the front. Ironic I know. Until they open the gates. VIP get a one hour head start. So I wait. Two bottles of water and one medic call for someone behind later, the gates open.
Having skipped breakfast to arrive early, I head for the food trucks. Correction, food truck. Singular. There were two other food trucks but one of those was not ready yet and the other just sold mixed drinks. So street tacos for breakfast it was. Not bad and at four bucks, not a bad deal. I mean they had a monopoly.
After vittles, we decided to make the hike through the woods to the vendor village. It could be seen from the main entrance as could the long muddy trail leading to it. The sight of a few attempts at a mud bridge conjured up rainy outdoor music festival memories.
Arriving at the Vendor and Patient area was the moment I realized another one of my bucket items was fixing to be checked off. Having had the pleasure of being picked a judge for the cup earlier in the month took care of one bucket list item. Check. Now I am attending a High Time Cannabis Cup and lighting a bat full of Jack H. Legally. Second check. Every vendor I met approached me with the same customer service I typically enjoy at my favorite dispensaries. Even the ones occupying tents full of more people escaping the heat than interested in their product. Knowing what they paid and what they must have endured getting set up made their professionalism even more impressive.
The heat and lack of decent accessible food trucks had me throwing in the towel quicker than I would have typically. As I walked out of the park I could see what seemed an endless line of people waiting to fulfill their bucket lists. It was a depressing sight knowing that probably half of them will never get to the gates in time. Logistically speaking, this park was not ready for the size of the crowd that arrived.
I have never organized an event of this size myself so I hesitate to point fingers but I left feeling that this event deserved a better venue. I had a rewarding time and got to experience something I thought would never happen in my lifetime. I only wish it was better organized so others could have at least been able to experience it and those that did, like me, could have had a more hassle-free time with the food and access issues.