Revolution Cannabis nearly sweeps the Illinois Cannabis Cup, but some reviewers question the process
The results of Illinois' first statewide legal marijuana competition revealed a clear favorite, though a couple of full-time cannabis reviewers caution people to take the results with a grain of salt.
The High Times Cannabis Cup Illinois named Revolution Global brands the winner in six of seven announced categories, with other top finishers featuring other big growers in the state, such as Cresco, Green Thumb Industries and PharmaCann. But some reviewers question whether the process was broad-based and fair enough.
While previous Cannabis Cups around the world typically have featured celebrity judges such as Snoop Dogg or industry insiders, this time the process was different, in part due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Illinois, where recreational marijuana first became legal this year, the judging was opened up to the public, as a way to broaden participation.
Up to 220 judges could participate in each category. They bought judging kits containing samples of products from producers statewide, costing $150 to $280 for up to 28 grams, or about an ounce, which were only sold at a handful of dispensaries statewide.
Revolution maintains it is the largest grower in the state, and uses genetic research and chemical analysis to develop more than 500 hybrids and strains. It was not a sponsor of the competition and was not among the participating dispensaries.
“Some friends thought it seemed overpriced and gimmicky,” Illbuds.com cannabis reviewer Chris Trudeau said of the cup. “Revolution does good work, but it is a bit odd to me they had a full sweep. It feels like more of an advertising opportunity than a real serious judging competition.”
Mark Anderson, who has written numerous online pot reviews under the pseudonym of Officer Dick Downey, also questioned the process. He agreed that Revolution makes the best products in the state “hands down,” but he wouldn’t necessarily agree with every result.
“I thought the process was unfair,” Anderson said. “These are the results you get when you have a small subset of people who can judge.”
Both reviewers hoped the competition would involve more judges and greater accessibility next year. Groups opposed to marijuana legalization have also criticized the competition for promoting a federally illegal product that can have harmful effects on cognition and the lungs, among other things.
High Times, which has long called for legalization, has said it opened up the Cannabis Cup judging to the public as a more democratic way to involve more input.
Jon Cappetta, vice president of content for High Times, said the dominance by Revolution was unprecedented in a Cannabis Cup, but said Revolution didn’t pay High Times a penny and won fairly.
“This has never happened before, and we were surprised as anyone else,” he said. “But it speaks to the quality of the product.”
Revolution finished first in the categories of indica flower, sativa flower, hybrid flower, pre-rolled joints, concentrates and vape pens. Bhang won the edibles category.
Green Thumb Industries, which runs the Rise stores that helped sponsor the event, was “thrilled” to have its RHYTHM and incredibles brands recognized as runners-up in the sativa flower and edible categories, spokeswoman Linda Marsicano said.
“This has been a great opportunity for all of Illinois to celebrate the legalization of cannabis and to learn more about cannabis brands,” she said.
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