ST. LOUIS – The winners of the best cannabis products statewide set themselves apart from the competition Sunday, September 18 as High Times held its Cannabis Cup Illinois People’s Choice Awards.

Recognized as the “Oscars of Cannabis,” High Times’ goal for this year’s competition was to expand it ten times in terms of products tested and judge kits used. In the previous years of the contest, applications to become a judge were only available to a handful of selected people. However, during the pandemic, thousands of consumers would share their interests in what they believed to be the best cannabis products. As a result, evaluations would now come from the public.

“It is way more democratic,” Director of Events and Competitions Mark Kazinec said. “Instead of choosing 200 judges, we now open it up to anywhere between 2,000 and 3,000 judges. We build however many amount of kits, transport them all across each state in which we do a competition, and then those customers go to each dispensary and judge over the course of 60 days from the comfort of their homes online.”

The 12 categories spanned from recreational and medical flower, to concentrates and extracts.

“We’re getting so many types of feedback from all walks of life,” Kazinec said. Whether it’s the OG grower who’s been growing for 30 years, or the new soccer mom who’s trading out her wine for a joint.”

Aeriz, Ascend Cannabis, Fig Farms, Nature’s Grace and Wellness, and nuEra were just a few partners involved in the competition. First-place winners of each category were awarded Cannabis Cups trophies, and silver and bronze medals were given to all second and third-place contestants. The wins also came free magazine ads and promotion on the High Times website and social media.

The national competition plans on expanding to all states with both recreational and medicinal access, with hosting a live in-person award show being the ultimate goal.

To see all judged categories and winners, click here.