There are plenty of cannabis cups at this point, though perhaps the High Times Cannabis Cup is the most well-known. As mushrooms become a bigger deal, the question comes up, can they be judged in the same way? And the answer is a resounding yes! The company Oakland Hyphae is the first organization to create the Psilocybin Cup. Read on to find out more about it.
What is a cannabis cup exactly?
A cannabis cup is a competition whereby growers can compete on different levels to essentially see who has the best bud. Different aspects are judged, like potency, flavor, smell, how it looks, benefits, and how smooth the experience. Sometimes these competitions, like the High Times Cannabis Cup, also act as a trade show and festival for weed itself; including tie dying, body painting, lectures, and other fun activities. In the past, High Times Cups have even had high-class entertainment like Wu Tang Clan or Nas.
One of the benefits of participating in these events, is that it brings a lot of attention to winners, and is associated with increasing sales for those whose buds are judged as best. It’s also how we, the public, hear about new strains, some of which go on to become household names. And at the same time, it means we learn more and more about weed and these different strains in general.
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The High Times Cannabis Cup is one of the most popular and longest running of these competitions. It was founded back in 1988, and was originally held in Amsterdam, as at that time, Amsterdam was one of the more lenient places for weed use. It has since become an industry leader in the cannabis competition field. The panel of judges identifies the top three products per each judging category (mentioned above), and the top spot wins the trophy.
The Cannabis Cup used to be more of an underground thing, when weed was still completely illegal everywhere in the US. Then it morphed into a competition for medical products only, when that avenue was opening up. And now it, and similar competitions, operate openly, and usually hold their competitions in weed friendly states.
Many different people can be judges, including unknown names. However, some of the interesting past judges for the High Times Cup, include: “Tommy Chong, Snoop Dogg, Patti Smith, Wiz Khalifa, Joe Rogan, Damian Marley, Kid Cudi, Method Man, Redman, Rita Marley, B-Real, B.O.B., Alex Grey, and the Brotherhood of Eternal Love,” among others.
The High Times Cannabis Cup might be the most prestigious and well known, but its joined by a host of others, like “The WEEDYS Awards; Best Bud, D.C. State Fair; Cultivation Classic; Sticky Icky Carolina Cup & Title Belt Asheville NC 420; Dope Cup; Emerald Cup; High Times Medical Cannabis Cup; Northwest Cannabis Classic; Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair; Stony Awards; and The Grow-Off. These are all US competitions, but there are plenty more held internationally as well.
What’s the Hyphae Psilocybin Cup?
Right now, though cannabis cups are all the rage, there’s a new entrant into the world of judging drugs and giving awards: magic mushrooms. Not only are they being decriminalized and legalized in different places; but their overall growth in acceptance, has led to the opening and growth of markets. And this opens the door to similar competitions, in which psilocybin mushrooms compete against each other. As of yet, there is only one in the US, the Oakland Hyphae Psilocybin Cup, hosted by Oakland Hyphae.
The founder of the competition is one cool dude, and he’s quite the entrepreneur in the mushrooms field. The guy’s name is Reggie Harris, and not only is he a seasoned veteran of political campaigns, working on everything from city councils to presidential elections, but the guy is also one of those really awesome figures who sees the problems in his own neighborhood and fights for change. In Oakland, California, Reggie worked with the Black Organizing Project in West Oakland to institute guidance counselors, instead of police, in Oakland public schools.
He’s been in the mushrooms world a while, consulting and working with large-scale cultivators. Within the past few years, he established the company Oakland Hyphae, which hosts not just the Psilocybin Cup, but a range of nationwide conferences on psychedelics as well. He also created Hyphae Labs, which is a leader in testing for mushroom potency; as well as Hyphae Nootropics, which is geared toward providing products made from non-psychedelic mushrooms. On top of all this, he’s the creator of HyphaeLeaks, a news publication which among other things, seeks to promote small businesses and legacy operators.
What does the Hyphae Psilocybin Cup judge?
So now we know a pretty cool guy, started a pretty cool competition, that acts like the many cannabis cups out there; except that its for magic mushrooms. But what exactly is the point of this competition, and what are the judges judging?
First off, this competition is (at least for now) solely about submissions of the specific magic mushrooms species Psilocybe cubensis, which is home to many popular strains. Hyphae Labs is the tester for all participants in these competitions. The lab looks at the percent of both psilocybin and psilocin in each specimen, and the percent of tryptamines as well. The results of these tests dictate some of the winners of the competition.
Awards are given in different categories, just like with cannabis cups. These include: the effects of the mushrooms, aesthetic appearance, and strength: which accounts for the balance created by both strength and overall effects. The titles given to winners include: Spiritual/Therapeutic Champion, Recreational Champion, Microdose Champion, and Bag Appeal Champion.
The very first Hyphae Psilocybin Cup was held in the spring of 2021. So far there have been four of these competitions. In both spring and fall of 2021, and both spring and fall of 2022. I unfortunately did not see information for a competition this spring (2023), but it’s quite possible the announcement is coming, or that it might be becoming a once-yearly competition. For information on the previous competitions and winners, you can look here.
As a side note, while the Amanita muscaria mushroom industry grows, it is not a part of this competition, as these mushrooms contains different compounds for which Hyphae does not currently test. Perhaps in the future this will change. For those interested in how Amanita products fair in competition, this year’s People’s Choice Hemp Cup – also put out by High Times – actually has a couple products that include Amanita mushrooms.
How does such a competition help?
Remember that part under the cannabis cups section, when I said these competitions greatly help growers in gaining publicity; as well as introducing the public to more and new strains? Well, the same applies here. Plus, as a new field, with new compounds to measure and things to consider, this competition helps bring information and awareness on the topic in general, right to the masses.
According to one of the biologists and researchers at Hyphae Labs, Ian Bollinger, its hard to know how to dose mushrooms by weight alone, which is the general strategy, regardless of strain. This competition, and the lab itself, aim to bring more specific information to users, so things like dosing per strain can be more accurate.
Much like cannabis cups expanding our general knowledge, the Psilocybin Cup works similarly. With all the hundreds of samples submit to the lab as part of the competition, the organization is able to get a much better view of the landscape of potency between different Psilocybe cubensis strains. Which means more information, and more precise purchasing and dosing strategies, for users.
Want to be a part of it?
Unfortunately, no information is posted yet for the next Hyphae Psilocybin Cup. But registration is generally announced not long before the competition is held. Anyone with a submission to make, is welcome to register and participate. Information for registration for the competition is posted on the Oakland Hyphae site. Alternatively, (since its not there yet), you can contact the company directly for further details. You may use the contact form from the website, which is here.
While registration is open to anyone, there’s less information available for the requirements that actually get a mushroom grower approved for entry. Once you’ve registered, the company will contact you with more information for submitting your product, with plenty of further information on how exactly the submission process goes.
I see no information stipulating an end to this competition, so I expect a Psilocybin Cup will be held sometime in 2023. However, as mentioned, I also see nothing specifically related to it yet. With the mushrooms industry only growing, there are sure to be more of these competitions popping up in the next few years; so interested and prospective registrants should definitely pay attention. We’ll be sure to keep you updated!
It was bound to happen. Cannabis cups are huge because cannabis is huge. And as the magic mushrooms industry grows, so does the desire for competition. Reggie Harris sure made something special with the Hyphai Psilocybin Cup; and we should all keep our eyes out for information on the next competition.
This competition is certainly one to keep track of. But with psychedelics (and hallucinogens, in general) growing in popularity, there are plenty more events to check out. In the US, here are some of the psychedelics events you definitely don’t want to miss this year. And if you’re not in America, or looking for a good reason to travel, check out these events, which happen worldwide.
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