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How to Become a Judge at a Cannabis Competition

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How to Become a Judge at a Cannabis Competition

Becoming a judge at a cannabis competition may just be the ultimate bucket list item for a cannabis enthusiast. After all, the prospect of being given dozens of cannabis products to rate and review seems like a literal dream come true to the budding ganja connoisseur.

However, there’s much more that goes into judging a competition than meets the eye. If you’re considering applying to be a competition judge, this guide will help you determine if you have what it takes to qualify and can provide a basic understanding of what the judging process entails.

Who Can Judge a Cannabis Competition?

Judge's samples of cannabis product for a cannabis competition(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Determining who can qualify to judge a cup depends on the type of competition or event. On one end of the spectrum are closed competitions, where judges are hand-selected by staff officials based on merit and experience. These judges are often well-known professionals within the industry, so this type of event isn’t typically open to the public for judging.

On the other hand, some competitions are completely open to the public, requiring absolutely no prior experience, qualifications, or affiliations within the industry. In these cases, those interested in judging simply purchase a pass ahead of time in the same manner as someone who is planning to attend the event.

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Many competitions have adopted a vetting system whereby applicants fill out a questionnaire detailing their experience and industry affiliations. While the public is open to the application process, the event’s staff is given the final say in who is selected for the judging process. This system has become more or less commonplace for competitions today, as it provides fairly open access to the public as well as some control for the event staff to determine qualifications.

How to Qualify to Be a Judge

A judge's kit of samples for a cannabis competition(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

There are no universal qualifications that must be met when applying to be a cannabis competition judge. However, a few considerations should be taken into account before applying.

1. Do you have any prior experience in competition judging?

Understanding the nuances of a particular competition can help you gain an edge when applying as it shows you have a basic understanding of the process. Although not required, having prior experience will go a long way if you’re being vetted for a judge position.

2. Are you an industry affiliate?

If you’re applying to judge either a closed competition or one with a vetting system in place, having industry affiliation can give you the competitive advantage over other applicants. Your ties lets competition organizers know that you could be more experienced with the industry and with cannabis products, and can display a fundamental understanding of the qualitative measures taken to judge submissions.

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3. Are you local to the event?

Many competitions require those who judge to be local to the event. This is due to several reasons, the most important of which is that products must be distributed beforehand in order to provide judges with an ample amount of time to review and submit their considerations. Remember, it’s federally illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, so people who live out-of-state can’t pick up their samples and fly or drive home to another state and try them before the event date.

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Aside from these three considerations, having a basic understanding of the judging process may be the most qualifying factor in becoming a competition judge. Contrary to what some industry professionals would have you believe, judging a competition requires much more of you than simply consuming massive amounts of cannabis in a concentrated timespan while indiscriminately assigning numerical values to the samples at hand. Although each competition weighs qualitative assessments differently, having a keen understanding of how to rate and review a cannabis product is paramount.

One must be proficient in the following areas:

  • Understanding terpene profiles (e.g. the difference between an OG strain and a Tangie strain)
  • Identifying key aesthetic traits in various cannabis products (like bud structure, color profiling, etc.)
  • Assessing tactile nuances (such as cannabis density, concentrate consistency)

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How to Prepare as a Cup or Competition Judge

Samples of cannabis product with a judge's notes for a cannabis competition(Patrick Bennett for Leafly)

Competition judges are selected well in advance of an event. If you were fortunate enough to have been chosen to judge a particular category of cannabis product, or if you have purchased a judge pass in an open competition, here are a few ways you can best prepare yourself ahead of time.

Read the Rules

Before receiving your samples, familiarize yourself with the rules of the competition so that you have a full understanding of the rating process. Take notes on the competition protocol and keep them on hand when reviewing each sample so you can refer back to them as needed.

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Plan Ahead of Time

Make sure that you have a safe and sufficient space to perform your judging duties. Prepare your space with adequate ventilation. Amenities such as food and beverage should be on hand both as palate cleansers as well as for sustenance.

Build Your Tolerance

Judging a cannabis competition is much more about endurance and much less about the sprint. Consider that some competitions will have you judge dozens (sometimes over 100) samples in a time period ranging from 10 days to as little as three. This means you will be cycling though samples rapidly, so make sure you can handle the rush of cannabinoids to your system (and clear your schedule of any other responsibilities if you can).

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Take Notes While You Try Samples

In order to fairly assess a product, you’re going to want to take as many notes as possible. Oftentimes, going back and trying samples multiple times is simply not an option due to time and/or product constraints. Taking notes can help tremendously in these scenarios to shortlist top performers and select notable entrees for a final rating and review.

There are many benefits to judging a cannabis competition, such as being able to sample and review your favorite cannabis products, knowing that your opinion will factor into determining which company takes home a trophy, and receiving free merchandise to take home after the event. But remember that no matter the competition, be it an open judging process or a closed event, choosing to participate as a judge should be taken seriously at all costs. These events carry a lot of weight for the companies involved, so in order to ensure these competitions remain open to the public, having respect for the process is your responsibility as a chosen judge.

Carry this responsibility with pride; after all, you’re judging a cannabis competition! What could be better than that?

Article originally found at https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/how-to-judge-marijuana-cup-event

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Marijuana and CBD companies can’t advertise on Facebook and Google, so they’re getting creative – CNBC

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David Bozin used to get cuts and scratches on his arms when it came time to bathe his golden retriever, Jax, who rebelled against the prospect of being dunked in water.

Then he learned that dogs, like humans, respond to the properties of cannabidiol, also known as CBD, a cannabis compound that helps the body relax without producing intoxicating effects. Bozin got to work on a line of CBD-infused dog products, including a dry shampoo and puppy treats, that he calls ZenPup.

But in trying to find customers for his new company, Bozin faces a unique challenge in today’s market. He doesn’t have access to Google, Facebook or Instagram (owned by Facebook), which have banned CBD and marijuana promotions. The two dominant online advertising platforms account for 57 percent of the U.S. digital ad market, according to eMarketer, and almost all emerging brands today count on Google’s search ads and Facebook’s precision targeting to efficiently get the word out.

“Facebook is not the end all, be all. Instagram is not the end all, be all,” Bozin told CNBC. “Does that mean you’re not going to see as much traffic at the get go? Sure. But at the end of the day the most important point is conversion,” or getting people to buy your products, he said.

Marijuana is legal for recreational use in 10 states and Washington, D.C., and available for medical purposes in many others parts of the country. CBD is a bit more complicated because the laws are murky.

Currently, 47 states allow some form of CBD sales. The 2018 Farm Bill, which Congress passed this week, allows states to decide if CBD products made from hemp can be sold in their jurisdiction. However, it doesn’t protect the products from the Food and Drug Administration, which can penalize companies for making inaccurate health claims.

“We avoid talking about anything too specific about what the product will do,” said Cary Smith, senior vice president at agency North 6th Agency. “If you come from an educational standpoint, you skew towards less restrictions, and have a bit of a larger organic reach.”

With so much uncertainty in the market, Google and Facebook have shied away from allowing marijuana and CBD advertising, taking a similar approach to how they handle tobacco and related paraphernalia. When it comes to alcohol, Google prohibits companies from targeting underage users or promoting unsafe behavior, while alcohol advertising on Facebook has to adhere to local laws.

In the absence of Google and Facebook, ZenPup has been forced to find alternative ways to launch its products. The co-founders, who worked in marketing and public relations, are spending time building relationships with media companies, high-end dispensaries and pet accessory retailers, along with other brands that might be open to partnering with a CBD provider. They’re finding popular social media influencers, who can support the products organically on their accounts.

ZenPup has also focused on clean, attractive packaging so that it’s appealing for “shelfies,” or staged product photos that people post on their feeds.

“Those younger consumers are looking for something different from an aesthetic standpoint, that also is top quality and at a good price point,” said Nicholas Weatherhead, ZenPup’s chief marketing officer and co-founder.

Other approaches are available to CBD companies, depending on the specific industry. Hillary Wirth, media director at the agency Noble People, said there are plenty of ways to get your brand in the right place.

To promote Viceland’s digital show “Weed Week,” in April Noble People bought local and national TV ads with DirecTV and Comcast, as well as on channels like IFC , USA and BBC America, and focused on pornography site Pornhub. There are also digital ad networks like like Traffic Roots that allow marijuana and CBD ads.

“So you can’t advertise on Facebook or Google – it’s not the end of the world,” said Wirth. “There are plenty of other media channels that will get you contextually next to relevant weed content.”

Noble People got creative in other ways. The firm organized a Washington, D.C., Viceland event to allow people to “Smoke Weed with Jeff Sessions.” But it wasn’t the former attorney general — just a man from Wisconsin with the same name.

Another approach is storytelling and finding a narrative that can generate PR.

For example, branding agency Abel told the story of Charlotte’s Web, a dietary supplement company named after Charlotte Figi, a young girl who suffered from epileptic seizures. With the help of CBD, Figi was able to to reduce her seizures and improve her health.

With “brands like Charlotte’s Web, the founders, who are very positive about the cannabis opportunities, have been able able to use PR as a marketing channel,” Abel CEO Julian Shiff said. “The word of mouth is so strong they are developing a tribe around their brand.”

Sponsoring sporting events and concerts are effective ways to find brand resonance. Smaller gatherings can work as well. Recess, which makes a CBD-infused seltzer, holds information events at places like hip-hop yoga chain Y7 Studio and samplings at Rise by WeWork. The company is based around a beverage, but it’s really trying to sell a lifestyle, said CEO and founder Ben Witte, who used to run mobile strategy for ad tech company AdRoll.

Witte said Recess has reached 50 times its projected sales this year, amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The product is mostly sold online, but is also available in New York City stores.

“The most important thing is to have a clear mission and purpose,” Witte said. “The best way to communicate that mission and purpose is not through a Google or Facebook ad.”

Original Article at https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/14/facebook-google-dont-allow-cbd-ads-so-zenpup-has-to-get-creative.html

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How Cannabis Could Become The Next Real Estate Disrupter – Forbes

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Outdoor restaurant renderingDesign by M-Rad Inc.

For a while it looked like the best thing to bring to a neighborhood was a new Whole Foods grocery store. One study showed that homes in these neighborhoods would appreciate at a much faster rate than if they were near a Trader Joe’s (and both were better than a Starbucks). Another sign a neighborhood is on the cusp of revitalization is when the yoga studios start vying for space with the arthouses. Usually it is not long after that the expensive coffee shops and cupcake stores start showing up at street level. But now that so many states have passed laws favorable to the marijuana movement, the next big thing to bring a neighborhood back from the brink just might be the increasing number of organizations that work in the industry.

Downtown Los Angeles could be the first case study to see this phenomenon in action. Next month, a seven-story building in the heart of Los Angeles’ Jewelry District will open up, filled with tenants who all have cannabis somewhere in their job description. The 67,000-square-foot Green Street Building (the name is in reference to its anchor tenant, the Green St. Agency, which works solely with clients in the marijuana industry) will house everything from co-working spaces to an art gallery, dispensary, restaurant, law firm, luxury spa and lounge. Real estate investment company Bow West Capital purchased the property last year for a reported $14 million. Once open it will be the largest real estate space dedicated to cannabis in the U.S.

“The buildings in [the Jewelry District] have not received the proper upkeep, allowing for low sale prices of the buildings but also requiring full renovations,” said Matthew Rosenberg, CEO and Founder of M-Rad, Inc, the design team behind the project. “With the prosperity and funding in the cannabis industry on the rise, this is a perfect combination for this exciting new industry to make this area their home, with Green St. being the catalyst.”

While there are not many residential properties for sale within the Jewelry District itself, data from Realtor.com shows the few that are on the market have a median asking price of $525,000. Surrounding neighborhoods vary quite a bit with the neighborhood of Florence-Graham about five miles away to the southwest seeing median list prices of $440,000 compared to Greater Wilshire a few miles to the northeast seeing median list prices of $1.7 million.

Lounge renderingDesign by M-Rad Inc.

M-Rad took the 1913 building and completely renovated the interiors to create mixed-use spaces that cater both to the requirements of offices and restaurants as well as the unique needs of cannabis companies. They needed to create the right proportion of an open-plan design matched with a set of cloistered, secluded rooms for those who want privacy. Here are some images of the interior provided exclusively to Forbes.

For example one concept for behind the hidden door of the library bookshelf could be the Bud Bar, with a custom-designed table. (Interested? A Forbes contributor put together a Gift Guide which includes some of the most unique marijuana rolling papers, with some that are made from gold and others that look like money.)

Concept of tableDesign by M-Rad Inc.

The lounge, MOTA—which if, like me, you didn’t know is a Spanish slang term for marijuana (at least one dispensary out there has ascribed the words Medicine Of The Angels to the letters, but the term doesn’t have its origins as an acronym)—will complement the restaurant which may prepare cannabis-infused menu items and have a U-shaped bar designed specifically for potential cannabis tastings. It will also have fully transparent windows into the kitchen so guests can see the food being prepared. Sound-proof rooms are also available for private meetings and the Flower Room can be a designated smoking area. [Update: The design team followed up after this was published to clarify these features are just in concept stage and have not been confirmed or approved. No cannabis products will be sold on site based on current plans.]

MOTA Cafe renderingDesign by M-Rad, Inc.

“The companies who are part of the building are some of the biggest players in the industry,” says Rosenberg. “Which will bring in high-level clientele and investors who may feel encouraged to invest in the development of the area. The building itself will host a number of cannabis-related programs such as cultural activities and gastronomic experiences which will attract new clientele.” Some of the big names affiliated with the project are prolific investor Gary Vaynerchuck, who is a 50% stakeholder in Green Street Agency, and Vicente Sederberg LLC, dubbed The Marijuana Law Firm, is one of the tenants.

Typically neighborhood revitalization follows the pattern of stores opening up on a neglected city block one retail space at a time. But this model is different. By bringing a critical mass of companies to the neighborhood all at once, the sudden influx could accelerate the resurgence all the more quickly. Los Angeles’ Jewelry District could become a major player in a matter of months, not years.

Follow me on Twitter @amydobsonRE

Article originally found at https://www.forbes.com/sites/amydobson/2018/11/27/cannabis-as-real-estate-disrupter-how-the-largest-marijuana-retail-space-plans-to-revamp-a-district/

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[Winner] November 1, 2018 Giveaway (Episode 2)

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Brady Shepherd wins our 2nd Rate.Review.Win! Giveaway!

hosted by Automatic Weapons

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