A JUDGE’S TALE OF WOE BY ALLISON STEIN
It’s a cannabis enthusiast’s dream, an industry honor, to be an Errl Cup judge. The emails and calls have gone out, the boxes have been picked up and the cannabis comas have begun. Well, one would hope.
Errl Cup is only a few days away. With the wide variety of categories including edibles, concentrates, topicals, CBD, flower, etc. landing a judging spot for the Errl Cup is better than being a kid in the candy store.
For about a two to three week time frame, judges have anywhere from 50 to a 100 or more samples to judge. Even though sampling almost everything the cannabis industry has to offer is a dream come true, it’s not all fun and games. Every judge has his or her own style.
One could take the kid in a candy store approach and dive right in. Picking out each sample saying to yourself “Oh what’s that?” Another judge might not decide to sacrifice their tolerance level and might do the math to determine a reasonable number of samples to test each day.
Yet, it’s the ones closest to you that attempt to take over your judging kit – like a parent taking over a science project. The struggle is real for Errl Cup judges. For example, if a judge’s daily cannabis diet is indica and receives a hybrid box, that hybrid could be more sativa dominant – sending the judge into a state of panic from anxiety.
As well as sending someone that uses to sativas into a cannabis-induced coma from indica-dominant samples. Still, even if you’re not going against your normal cannabis diet, one might be overwhelmed with a heavy indica and end up sleeping the day away.
If you’re friends with a judge and get to sesh with them, don’t even bother to ask what you’re trying. They don’t even know because the samples are given numbers not names. For flower and concentrates a sample sized amount is placed in a very small plastic jar with a rubber lid. This is for anonymity between brands, grows and dispensaries.
Of course, with some categories like vapes and edibles, it might be hard to keep the brand names obscure. Still, in all fairness each product is judged on a standalone basis and is not compared to anything but the judge’s option. This is called an organoleptic, meaning based on the judge’s senses.
Each sample is judged on a scale of 1 to 10. The questions range from visual appeal, visual purity (objects found in sample) smell, taste and effects. There are additional sections for comments too. If one of your favorite products or brands does not win, don’t take it out on a judge.
Judges are only one part of the formula for the winning results. There are other factors – like test results. That’s right! Jim Morrison of Errl Cup third-party tests each sample that is received. After the 710 winners are announced on July 13th, the lab results and the secret number codes are given the public so that judges can compare their personal lists.
You could be a lucky judge of the next Errl Cup in January. In all seriousness, the people at Errl Cup work hard for months leading up to the big event. Countless hours, man and woman power and cannabis goes into each Errl Cup event.
The goal is not just free pot (although it does help break the ice for some folks’ anxiety).
Errl Cup is the only time almost every brand is at one location at the same time. It promotes solidarity in the cannabis community and with 2020 around the corner we need some unity!
BTW, good luck with those judging prospects. Over five thousand patients applied for the one hundred and thirty-four judges’ spot. But fear not, soldier on, keep a pure heart and unexpired medical and your time could come. Remember, you don’t pick the judge life, the judge life picks you.
—Allison Stein writes for Arizona Cannabis Monthly and Arizona NORML.