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As most of the judges were heading home for Thanksgiving
after a more than usually successful Cannabis Cup news broke
on Dutch TV that a vote rigging scam had been discovered.

ONE OF AMSTERDAM's best known and most successful coffeeshop chains has been stripped of one of its cups as a result of an exercise in vote rigging that has left many within the coffeeshop community confused or merely questioning the credibility of the Cannabis Cup. Greenhouse, owned by Arjan Roskam, won and then lost the Hashish Cup. Also stripped of their medals were second and third prize winners: Rokerij and Het Kruydenhuys. As a result of the swift exit of the three top prize winners, the hash entered by the coffeeshop placed fourth in the original count, Dutch Flowers, was elevated to first position and duly received the cup. Er . . . .congratulations, guys.
THE news of the vote rigging, which was featured on Dutch TV and received considerable domestic press coverage, was a disappointing end to an otherwise successful Cannabis Cup. For the first time this year, coffeeshop owners were responsible for judging the seed company and hash competitions. The general view among cup regulars and entrants was that the judging procedures and restraints on ostentatious expenditure on 'promotional' activities were far
fairer than in previous years. The new judging procedures were introduced this year in response to coffeeshop complaints that the 1998 Cup favoured those who invested most in 'freebies' for the judges. Seven of the nine cups awarded in 1998 were taken by Greenhouse.
In a statement issued a week after the end of the cup, High Times Editor and cup founder, Steve Hager, dismissed the cheating as 'confusion about what was proper and improper' because there were no written rules about how ballots should be filled out. 'Next year,' said Hager, 'we plan to have written rules concerning voting and lobbying for votes so problems like this will not reoccur.'
Revealing rather more than
anyone wished to know about High Times' attitude to the ethics of the Cannabis Cup, Mr Hager expresses his regret that the vote rigging scandal became public.
Although asked to comment on his disqualification and loss of the Hash Cup, Arjan Roskam had nothing to say.
Other coffeeshops, however, were less tight lipped. Although news of the disqualification initially provoked a knee-jerk reaction that was rather less than benign, after a few days Dutch pragmatism took over producing a more mellow response. Most coffeeshop entrants expressed disappointment that the most successful (and fair) Cannabis Cup should have been marred by the unethical actions of some competitors. The most quotable comment on the cup came from the man with the strangest sense of humour in Amsterdam, Michael Veling, owner of Cannabis-Café de Kuil. He said: "I hope that if High Times are going to produce written rules for voting and lobbying they remember to prohibit physical violence as a means to influence voting. If they don't I will simply assume that it is perfectly ethical and fair to beat the judges into a pulp in order to get their votes."
On a more serious note, plans are underway for a number of coffeeshops to petition High Times with a list of suggestions for improving judging procedures for next year.
Among other cup winners this year were Sensi Seeds (Sativa and Best Expo Booth) and Paradise Seeds (Indica).
The cup attracted more than 2000 of the nicest people.

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