Ryan Alexander-Tanner

SINCE LEGALIZATION took effect on July 1, Oregon has been host to numerous events where you can buy a ticket, and, in return, smoke weed. This fall promises even more, with the Dope magazine cup, the Tannins and Terpenes event, and—potentially—the High Times Cannabis Cup, although they've changed the date and location a half dozen times already. As of now, they're going to hold it in a Milwaukie parking lot. (One can easily find people smoking weed in Milwaukie parking lots on most any day. Email me, and I'll sell you a ticket to this.)

It's pretty cool this is happening, especially because in years past, one had to travel all the way to Amsterdam for the Cannabis Cup. But there was a brief shining period a few years back where a trip to Vancouver, BC, offered a similar reward. Play Sherman to my Mr. Peabody and I will tell you about it.

There used to be a Canadian equivalent of High Times magazine called Cannabis Culture, published by the "Prince of Pot," Marc Emery. They ran an ad in 2004 for their "Tokers Bowl," urging you to become a judge by sending them several hundred dollars. Never one to foolishly pass on the opportunity to send cash to people I have never met in foreign countries for the chance to obtain narcotics, I ran to my nearest post office.

A few months later, I was at the bookstore that served as headquarters for Cannabis Culture. I was given a customized glass pipe, a lighter, and some rolling papers. The event coordinator explained that due to SARS concerns, we were to sterilize the pipe with the lighter if we opted to share with others. Awesome start.

I was sent to a four-star hotel suite, and greeted by a smiling woman who gave me an ounce bag that was filled with 20-plus different cannabis strains, all coded by letter. There was no further info on the strains or grow methods or anything. I had three days to consume and rate the ounce of strains. Challenge accepted.

As such, my memories are a bit fuzzy. I smoked nonstop—on a boat cruise, on a bus trip to the beach, at a dinner for 200 in an old wooden dining hall, where we smoked so hard it looked like three fog machines had been set to Spinal Tap. That night, the Vancouver Canucks won... something big?... and the streets went nuts. Traffic stopped, people danced on cars, and thousands of people spontaneously lit up. It was like a stoner's version of Fame.

The weed? The weed was good. Not great. This was during the period that "BC Bud" was considered some of the best on the West Coast, and while it wasn't schwag, it wasn't any better than what I was getting in Portland.

But trying that many strains in a short period of time was well worth it. I still have the pipe. Nobody got SARS.