The Cannabis Competition Using Science To Crown Champions

By Aaron M.
Since the dawn of time, growers have gathered together in ceremony to debate about who has the best bud. Cannabis cups crown the so-called best growers, but many industry experts suggest that these titles are bought rather than won.

Way before legal weed took over North America, Amsterdam was home to the infamous Cannabis Cup. It was the industry event that every major producer needed to at least be a part of if they wanted to get noticed.

Now, everybody and their brother are organizing a cannabis competition. Each has its own quirks and criteria used to crown growers with titles like “Best Outdoor” or “Best Indica”.

In your typical cannabis competition, growers pay hefty entrance fees along with submitting a pretty big bag of flower for the judges to sample. It’s all for the chance to have your weed proclaimed the best!

Pay-To-Play & Strain-Name Game

Here’s the problem with the average weed competition though. They’re not fair! Everyone in the industry knows that most competitions no matter how fairly judged and organized don’t really crown expert growers.

Instead, the ones who stuff the organizers and judges pockets with influence, spend the most money at the event, and bring the biggest sponsors are more likely to take away the championship belt. It’s a pay-to-play vibe and the more you pay the more you get to play.

Most competitions are judged subjectively on criteria such as flavor, taste, smoke, appearance, effects, and other categories. A new kind of cannabis competition is coming out of Colorado this year though that changes all of that.

The Grow-Off is a new style of cannabis competition in which grower’s weed isn’t judged on subjective criteria from judges. Instead, Growers are all starting with the same genetics and that’s what sets this competition apart from the rest. 


Co-founder of this revolutionary cannabis competition, Samantha Sandt, uses photography to explain the concept behind her idea. 

“Think about it this way: If you had a photography competition, the person who starts with a brand new digital camera has a huge advantage over the person using a disposable they bought at Walgreens. We’re giving everyone the same ‘camera’ to start with, so it comes down to who can produce the best results.”

Cannabis Competition Levels The Playing Field

The Grow-Off gives each grower in the competition identical clones from the same genetics. None of the growers are even told what the strain is or where it comes from, which to me is a pretty good way to level the playing field.

Once growers have cultivated the strain to the best of their abilities, Grow-Off organizers assess the plant’s yield. A sample of each grower’s harvest is taken to a sponsoring laboratory to analyze the cannabinoid and terpenoid profile to determine potency and other aspects.


Anyone who’s had any experience using cannabis knows that each strain can have drastically different effects. Even if two growers’ grow the same strain it’s likely they’ll end up with two different cannabinoid and flavor profiles.

Furthermore, even if two different strains have the same potency and ratio of THC: CBD, they can still exhibit different effects on the user. Experts say that the aromatic compounds in cannabis, called Terpenes, are responsible for guiding the effects of cannabinoids like THC and CBD.

There are just too many subjective variables that go into determining the quality of a strain’s flavor, potency, and effects. The organizers of the Grow-Off decided that the only way to truly crown the best cannabis grower was to have them all start off with the exact same genetics.

After Colorado, the organizers hope to bring the Grow-Off competition into other states that have legalized recreational marijuana. I really appreciate their work and what it will do for licensed cannabis producers.

The Grow-Off Crowns The Real Expert Weed Growers

Growing marijuana is an art form and to truly produce top-shelf high-quality cannabis takes talent. Unless you live in Southern Oregon where the best weed in the world pretty much grows by itself. 


Often, it’s the strains that get all the attention. You can probably name 5 off the top of your head without thinking, but can you name your favorite cannabis grower? Exactly.

I like the fact that this competition brings the light back onto the farmer or grower and away from the strain-name game. I hope the industry gravitates more towards supporting local craft-cannabis producers. 

I mean think about it. Craft beer lovers aren’t reeling on about their favorite strain of hops, are they? No, they debate about master brewers, fermentation, and brew methods. Shouldn’t we do the same for the craft cannabis industry and start supporting master growers and debating about grow methods instead of granting false-celebrity to strain names?

Anyone who cares about where their food comes from and how it’s grown should care just as much about their cannabis. Thanks for reading! If you’ve enjoyed this article then please share it with others who may also find it helpful.


1.Ricardo Baca A new breed of cannabis competition: The Grow-Off uses science to crown champs. Retrieved September 10, 2018 from

2. 2018 CO Adult-Use Winners:. Retrieved September 10, 2018 from

3. Growing Massive. Retrieved September 10, 2018 from

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About the author: Aaron M.

Aaron is a freelance cannabis writer for Slyng, covering medical marijuana, cultivation and other cannabis culture topics. He's also an independent musician and songwriter releasing his debut album one single at a time.