by Brittney Graham
If only one word could be used to describe the Hightimes Cannabis Cup that was held in Oklahoma City over the weekend of August 24th it would be insulting. When I arrived early on Saturday for the first day of the cup I, like most of the patients of Oklahoma, was beyond excited to experience one of the first patient events. Sure, we have seen a lot of patient drives, dispensary openings, and of course expos for industry to industry vendors. But this was the first event that marked in my mind at least the opportunity for the patients and brands of Oklahoma to mingle, network, and celebrate how far we have come.
That being said, I am sure it comes as no surprise that as I took my exit from the highway to the Lost Lakes Complex at around 11:30am, excitement couldn’t even begin to describe the feelings that were coursing through me. That is when I ran into my first line of traffic about 2 miles from the event parking. Not a big deal, I mean this is a big event, of course the lines will be long at the start of the first day, right?
I ended up paying $20 for parking at a service shop along the road to the event and mind you at this point it is noon and parking is becoming very scarce. I was still in good spirits when I had finally made it to the gates and first volunteer about a mile from my parking spot. I started asking where will call was so that I could pick up my media pass but had to make it through about 4 volunteers before someone knew where the ticket trailer was. As I waited in the will call line, I overheard complaints of patrons that were at the beginning of the line but their ticket wouldn’t scan or they were unaware that tickets had to be bought separate from the front of the line. This meant, once their ticket situation was resolved, they would have to get back in line which was about a three hour wait at this point.
Once I received my media pass, I was instructed to make my way to the general admission line which was now double the size it was when I got to the event. The humidity and heat were high at this point and an hour into waiting in the line I noticed how the heat was getting to everyone around me. People started calling for medics for those passing out from the heat while we waited to enter the event. If the heat didn’t get to you, the hustling sure did.
There were men in the line playing three card Monty and trying to get money from patients waiting to enter the cup. Security asked them to leave about four times during my 2 hour wait to no avail. In fact, the men stayed in the line hustling for so long that the Oklahoma City Police department arrested one on Sunday afternoon.
At this point I am a little bit agitated but still excited and ready to get in! As I slowly make my way to the front of the line I can hear instructions being screamed from the security tent, “Show us your cards for the wrist bands” “No Guns, no alcohol, we will be checking” “If you have opened water it will be disposed of and you can only have one unopened bottle”. This is where I would like to note that checking medical cards for the medical area wrist bands consisted of running down the line and handing wristbands to anyone holding any card at all.
After being herded like cattle through the security line, mind you some of these patients were in wheelchairs and having a hard time walking but were herded just the same, I make it to the food vendor area. There are a total of four food trucks with lines as long as the ticket line but no vendors. That is when I notice the exhibitor village a half mile down the road through the mud, and yes there were shuttles going back and forth through the same mud the patients were trekking through and getting stuck. This is when I opted out of waiting in line for a water and walked to the vendor area.
This was a huge mistake because there was no water allowed to be sold in that area, in fact water ran out at the event on the first day 3 hours into it. I am talking food trucks were out, the lost lakes bar was out, and the medic tent wouldn’t give any water unless you passed out. Once inside the vendor area I was more focused on my heat exhaustion than waiting in line to take a dab which seemed to be the only reason people were there.
For an event that was held in a medicinal only state, it is safe to say that the patients were thought of AFTER all of the sponsor and entry money had been taken. From parking to the health and well-being of the patients of Oklahoma there was a lot left to be desired and a lot missed. It seems as though Hightimes took some Saturday complaints into account when opening on Sunday and made sure to have enough water available to those that attended. But that is about the only difference between the two days.
Although the experience itself was highly insulting and disappointing, I do want to congratulate the Oklahoma brands that took home a win on Sunday! You deserve recognition for all of your hard work and dedication to this community.