Be a Judge at National Cannabis Championship!

Howdy, cowpokes! The Gentleman is stoked to be one of the judges for the inaugural National Cannabis Championship. I can’t wait to see who walks away with the crown of DC’s best weed! The bon temps don’t stop there, though. Guess what?I also get to pick three people to join the judges panel for the National Cannabis Championship, one for each division. Are you getting what I’m putting down yet? YOU COULD BE ONE OF THE NCC JUDGES. Yes, you! We’re having a contest and everything! 

All you gotta do is 1) Read the Rules, reading rules is important, so check this page out and then 2) Fill out the form to enter and include a few sentences about why you think you should be a judge. That’s it! I read all the entries and pick three of the most experienced, dedicated, and passionate marijuana advocates to help us settle the argument of who’s weed is best once and for all. Well, at least until next year. Oh, I’m getting ASMR scalp tingles just thinking about it!

cannabis plants in soil buckets photoGet your gardens ready!


How Will the National Cannabis Championship Work?

I'm so glad you asked! I'm really impressed with the rules that the National Cannabis Festival team, led by Caroline Phillips, have put together. Since there's different rules for different products, as hemp is federally legal and THC flower is not, let's talk about how each division will work, from entering the contest to how the awards are chosen. 

NCC THC Flower Division

Only growers from Washington DC and Virginia can enter the THC flower competition of the 2022 National Cannabis Championship, since both allow home growing. Get your act together, Maryland! The cost of entering the competition is xxx but that fee also includes tickets for both the Festival and the Championship, so that's a good deal. Plus, the judges have been offering free entrance fee giveaways for local growers on social media recently (I think we've got one coming up soon!)

How to Enter NCC 

FYI, growers will have to provide proof of residency and photos of their submission at three stages of the cultivation process: at the beginning of the flowering stage, at the middle of the flowering stage, and at time of harvest. Entrants have to be at least 21 years old. You can submit more than one flower for consideration, but have to pay the $190 for each separate entry.

Growers will have to submit 28 grams of dried flower in an airtight container of their entry. Samples are due no later than March 20th! During your product entry appointment with the NCC staff, they'll take out four grams for lab testing and a thicc sexy nugget for display (should your entry make it to the finals).

NCC THC Flower Judging Process

NCC Staff will then subject your entry to an olfactory and visual examination to look for mold, mildew, or foreign residues. As we've discussed here in this article, there's a lot you can tell about the quality of your cannabis by smelling it. If your entry passes this first hurdle, then it goes to the lab for testing. The lab will be providing a pass/fail safety check (you can find details here about disqualifying pesticides, PGRs, & heavy metals), then provide a cannabinoid profile including THC percentage.


Now we get to the exciting part! If your sample passes lab testing, that's when me and the other NCC Judges (which might include you, remember?) get to smoke it!  We'll be doing Semi-Finals rounds for Virginia and DC entries separately, then the Top 5 winners from both regions go on to the Finals- each wins a pair of VIP Passes to the Championship hosted at Echostage! The judges will be doing a blind test of these samples, so we won't have any idea who entered them! We'll be judging them based on several criteria:

  • • Unique Name & Genetics (10 points)
  • • Unique Cannabinoid Profile (20 points)
  • • Unique Terpene Profile (20 points)
  • • Overall Appearance (10 points)
  • • Aroma (10 points)
  • • Flavor (10 points)
  • • Experience (20 points)

First place wins $500, Second wins $350, Third wins $150, and the two runners-up win prizes from NCF's partners. But really, it's all about the bragging rights, isn't it? 

Hemp Flower Division

The Hemp Flower Division has a much more lax entry process on account of the entrant needing to provide their own COA (Certificate of Analysis) that includes a pass/fail safety analysis that meets NCC requirements. It's also a bit cheaper, since you're handling the testing on your end ($145 vs $190). That price also includes passes to the Festival & Championship! NCC Staff will verify your COA, then you're on your way to the competition! And since it's federally legal, the competition is open to several states across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, namely:

  • • Washington DC
  • • Virginia
  • • Maryland
  • • Pennsylvania
  • • Delaware
  • • West Virginia
  • • New York
  • • New Jersey

Hemp Flower entries have to provide 28 grams of dried flower for samples just like THC Flower, but have the option of mailing in their samples. First Place walks away with $250, Second with $150, Third with $75, and runners up get prize packs. 

Hemp Edibles & Topicals Divisions

Like Hemp Flower, entrants for Edibles & Topicals are also required to provide their own COA that meets NCC requirements. In addition, they have to be tested for Solvent Residues (full list here). If they don't pass the Solvent Residue portion of the test, they will not proceed to the competition! Make sure you talk with NCC prior to obtaining your COA, they can discuss requirements with you ahead of time.

cannabis hemp oil tincture photo

Hemp Edibles & Topicals entries will have to provide twelve individually-packaged samples of the product. Topicals must contain at least 2 fluid ounces per individual sample. The full list of states from the Hemp Flower Division are welcome to enter the Edibles & Topicals Divisions, too! Cost is the same as Hemp Flower, $145, and comes with passes to the Festival & Championships. The prize money for these two divisions is exactly the same as for Hemp Flower, with $250 for First Place, $150 for Second, and $75 for Third. 

Who Will I Choose to Be an NCC Judge?

So NCF asked me to talk about exactly what I’m looking for in a judge and I’ve given it a fair bit of thought after interviewing some of the other judges for (shameless plug!) The Gentleman Toker Podcast. First, I’d like to pick one person each from DC, Maryland, and Virginia. See, Maryland, good news! I’ve bounced around all three my whole life and I think the entire region should be represented at NCC. After that, well…

The judge for the Hemp Edibles/Topicals division should certainly go to someone that relies on CBD (plus CBN & CBG) products medically. You don’t have to tell me what it is, just that you’ve tried out a lot of different products looking for the perfect fit for you. Personally, I’ve had fantastic success from CBD topicals whenever I throw my back out, but I don’t care if you use it for sleep, anxiety, or to contain the simmering rage you feel watching the planet dying by degrees like the proverbial frog in the pot. No, that’s just me? Sure, sure. The point is, I want somebody on the Hemp Edibles/Topicals panel that can judge which products helped them the most.

Let’s talk about the THC Flower division! Now, we’ve got a ton of extremely qualified applicants to pick from, folks that run licensed grows, cannabis industry insiders, and the like, but I plan on choosing someone like that to help assess the Hemp Flower division. I think grow experience is important here to find which CBD nugs are being shown as much love by their cultivators as their more popular sister.

Ultimately, I’m not looking for someone from the industry to judge the THC Flower division. The official contest is for Community Judges, so I’m going to choose someone from the community. An everyday smoker. A cannabis consumer and connoisseur. Why? Because a little over five years ago, some weird stoner thought the industry needed to hear what he wanted out of cannabis legalization as a consumer. Now, that same weirdo thinks it’s your turn to be heard.

Plus it’ll be fun! We can compare notes! Maybe we’ll even be besties after, and we’ll go skip rocks at the lake and have long, deep talks about life and everything, you know, the kind of relationship that forever changes us both and then Hollywood makes a movie about it. We’ll get that one really gruff voice actor guy to do the trailer, you’re gonna love it, it’s gonna be great.  

Meet Your NCC Community Judges!

National Cannabis Championship’s Community Judge contest has come to a close and the only thing left to do is announce the winners! First, I gotta say, the response to this contest was nothing short of amazing. There were nearly a thousand cannabis advocates, activists, and enthusiasts that wanted to be a part of this historic moment, the launch of the biggest weed competition the East Coast has ever seen. I get it! I’m psyched too! I read every single entry and nomination that came in and, I know this is a cliche’, but it was an agonizingly difficult decision. I was overwhelmed by the passion you all have for this plant and your community. There are so many incredibly talented and driven people pushing the conversation around cannabis forward here at home and across the nation. While I can only choose three to join us as judges at NCC, I really hope that many of you will join me on The Gentleman Toker Podcast to tell us about your projects!

Alright alright, you’re here to see if you won. Let’s get to it!

Hemp Topicals/Edibles Community Judge

The Community Judge for the Hemp Topicals & Edibles categories is going to a longtime Washington activist, someone who helped with the Initiative 71 campaign that brought cannabis legalization to the District. On top of that, CBD products have played a pivotal role in her own journey, so she’ll be able to provide us with feedback based on real-world efficacy, which is exactly what I was looking for in this category. In her entry, she said that cannabis has “opened up a world of amazing people” to her. You are one of the amazing people, Colette Cobb, and more than deserving of this honor!

Hemp Flower Community Judge

Joining us as Community Judge for the Hemp Flower category, I have chosen Maxwell Cranford, the Director of Cultivation at Beyond Hello, one of the Commonwealth of Virginia’s first medical cannabis dispensaries. Maxwell has worked in the cannabis industry since 2011, coming to us from Colorado where he “worked with several large dispensaries, such as Apothecary Farms, Lucy Sky, Verde Natural, Kind Love, and the Clinic.” Maxwell is no stranger to the cannabis competition scene and the many nominations he received from his colleagues all spoke very highly of his character, knowledge, and experience. I have no doubt that Maxwell will prove a credit to this competition and we are damn glad to have him on board!

THC Flower Judge

Finally, we come to the coveted role of THC Flower Judge. As you might imagine, this category received the bulk of the entries. I wanted someone who knows cannabis and isn’t part of the industry. As I considered the many very qualified applicants, I began to ask myself who among these people would I give a platform, whose voice would I elevate? I considered this privilege carefully and with all due consideration. The person I have chosen is a veteran of our armed forces, an advocate, a mother, a positive influence in her community, and…well, I think she says it best herself:

“In May, I will be graduating with a Masters of Science in Cannabis Studies and Therapeutics. We learn about genetics, phenotypes, and the chemical makeup of cannabis. Most of your judges come from growing or being in the industry. I think it’s time for a “Masters” to have a say.”

You know what? I couldn’t agree with you more, Lakia Pierce! Please accept this early graduation gift and join us at National Cannabis Championship as our Community THC Flower Judge. Your list of accomplishments is already impressive, I can’t wait to see what you’ll do for our common cause as your career continues.

More NCF Contests to Come!

Is that it? Not quite! Like I said, I was really taken with the passion of this community and everyone who entered this contest. Our team here is putting some goodies together for you folks and we'll be giving away some passes to join us at National Cannabis Festival. In fact, we have another contest right now! If you want to enter your homegrown flower into the competition for FREE, plus get a pair of passes, comment on our Instagram post and we'll select a winner on March 21st.


Congratulations again to our Community Judge winners and a big thank you to everyone that entered!