Hempfest 2019 Review Summary

What would you call this, a cannabis contest? I think so.

Ok, there was a cannabis contest in the city I live in, and I was invited to be a judge in the dried flower portion of the contest. All of the entries were tested by Keystone Labs for cannabinoids and terpenes. Using a 100 point scale designed by The Cannabis Sommelier, entries were judged by myself and 4 other judges. Here we all are eating cake.

Awards were given for various categories based on both the lab data, and the data from the judges 100 point scales. Winners for each category were announced, and brought onstage so bask in all the sweet everlasting glory that Hempfest Calgary 2019 was capable of thrusting upon them.

Now that the fanfare has died slightly, I thought it was time to do what I do. By which I mean, analyzing a data set that isn’t mine, with a central focus on myself only. So over the coming weeks, we’ll look at each of the entries I reviewed, in the context of group averages, as set by the Keystone Lab data.

There’s a big tease on upcoming reviews, this article analyzes the dataset as a whole. We’ll summarize from 4 perspectives: lab data, my judging data, awards given and my ability to guess unknown cultivars, or the lack thereof.

Cannabinoid Content

We had an entry test at 36.2%. Unbelievable, I know, I think they’re having it tested again. We had a chat about it when the results came in. The same lab did all the testing, backed the results. I’ve tracked two Kief products from Cannafarms and Aurora that had cannabinoid contents around the 35% level, but never a whole flower product. Although I’m skeptical of the number, you have to put some trust in the people taking the measurements, so we had an entry test at 36.2% total decarboxylated cannabinoid content.

The average total content was 18%, a little bit higher than what I track in my personal datasets and the market average for all available listings (~17%). The minimum value was around 11%, so the span between maximum and minimum doubles the minimum value. The maximum value (36%) also doubles the average, which is unusual as well. Check out the view below for the breakdown of cannabinoid content across all entries. Hover/tap for the comparative figures against the average and maximums.


We’re going to look at how I awarded points to each listing. Over the 31 reviews, I gave an average of 72 points to each entry, and the maximum number of points I awarded was 91. The minimum number of points I awarded was 0, but I cut that part off of the graph below because I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad. Contrary to that sentiment, I have fully disregarded any input from all other judges that participated in this event, showing only my perspective.

See below for the points I chose to award each entry. Point breakdowns by subcategory are shown by hover/tapping each data point in the graph below.


There were multiple award segments for this contest. Some entries won twice, one won three times. Some entries did not win. I took all that info, and made it into a list, which is below.

Cultivar Guesses

The entries for this contest were delivered to me with a number only, I did not get the know the cultivar or the dominant cannabinoid prior to each review. Which presented a unique opportunity for me to guess at the identity of many different cultivars. I got one right. Some were close. And the majority were so wrong I should be too embarrassed to share this.

Right, so there’s the walkthrough of the major measures of this dataset.

Now that’ we’ve looked at it from this level, we can start to get into what I view as the real value of this exercise, looking at each cultivar specifically. I saw some really interesting and unique cultivars during this process, and now that they’re known to me, we can look into each. Some are familiar, some I’ll need to research. In terms of getting to know what the community likes to grow, or some lesser known offerings, I find it a worthwhile exercise. So lookout for those reviews over the coming weeks.

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