The Grow-Off is a science-based cannabis growing competition based in Colorado, but also hosted in California and Oregon. The event takes clones from huge mother plants grown in each state, gives them to a cast of different growers, and tells them to go grow the best weed possible. It was started in 2016 by former seed company owner Samantha Taylor and former Denver Post pot critic Jake Browne as a response to the dire need for merit-based — not pay-to-play — cannabis competitions.
On how The Grow-Off works, Taylor told me, “Lab testing has really grown a lot since this started and we decided to create a completely science-based competition in that our control variable is everyone gets the same genetics, so it's not like who had the best seed or whatever. Then they submit to the same lab and the lab is essentially judge and jury. Our awarding categories are [based on] who grows the most cannabinoids and who grows the most terpenes.”
And how does it benefit growers? Taylor said, “Often, growers will get sponsored by products. We do a homegrow and a commercial competition, so a lot of our home growers will use this as a resume piece to move up in the industry and get a job.” Commercially, she continued, “We spend the four months of the competition posting and promoting all the teams that are in it. We encourage them to charge more for it — you spent extra time on this; and we hear that The Grow-Off strain really flies off of the shelves. Consumers are watching the process of little clone to final flower and they're excited to try the winner. The engagement has been fun to watch.”
Normally, The Grow-Off is a huge production followed by a huge extravaganza for the winners. “We throw these over-the-top parties because our view is, a small number of people win, but everyone else needs to have the time of their lives. We give them food, drink, entertainment, we do free tattoos, because if they don't win, we still want them to leave feeling like that was the best party ever.”
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year's competition and awards ceremony will be online. Still, The Grow-Off team has made adjustments to maintain a high production value.
For the competition, Taylor shared, “We've ingrained ourselves in the comedy community and are bringing them into the awards ceremony.” During the pandemic, Taylor and Browne have been producing comedy shows with comedians like Kristen Schaal, Kyle Kinane, and more. Through this, The Grow-Off was able to secure Doug Benson for the awards ceremony. On making up for the missed party, she said, “We made these hooked up swag bags for all of the growers. We try to do as much as we can cause we know [the pandemic] sucks and we don't want to be the cause of anyone's illnesses.”
The Grow-Off 2020 awards ceremony will be October 24 at 6pm MST, and is available online to the public.
In addition to creating a competition based on great weed, Taylor also likes to consume it, “It's my sleep aid. I, as a business owner, wake up and just start spinning about what I have to do for the day. And if I don't have to be up at that hour, I can mellow out, go back to sleep for a couple of hours, it just does it.”
Here are five weed products The Grow-Off co-creator can't live without.
Green Dot Labs Vape Pens
“I always have a vape pen next to the bed. I like Green Dot labs for that.”
Green Dot Labs is a Colorado-based cultivation and extraction brand. They are known for their signature Black Label line of flower and concentrates.
Healthy Honeys Lavender Tincture
“My friend Shannon owns a CBD company called Healthy Honeys. She has a lavender tincture that's always bedside as well.”
Healthy Honeys is a CBD company for women, started by Shannon Donnelly. They produce a full range of products from relief creams and tinctures to coffee and CBD isolate.
Mary's Medicinals Topicals
“For general aches and pains, Mary's Medicinals topicals are awesome. They're the best I've ever seen. They also do a CBD line too if you need it in a different state.
“For travel, I really like the Altus R&R pills. We like to go to museums when we're in new cities, so [we] pop one of those then go to a museum or do some cool art stuff.”
Altus is an edibles company available in Colorado and Nevada geared towards helping consumers dial in their wellness routines. Their catalogue features gummies, skin gels, tablets, and hemp flower.
“We won a Puffco at a holiday party. They're very expensive, but worth it.”
The Puffco Peak is a portable atomizer that makes taking dabs on-the-go quick and easy.
Bonus: The White
While it's not explicitly a product she can't live without, Taylor mentioned that The White was one of her favorite cannabis strains. “I tried it about a year ago, and for sleep, that was just the best thing.”
Photo courtesy of Samantha Taylor. Graphic by David Lozada/Weedmaps.