Over the last two years, L.A. Weekly has had a front-row seat to the rise of Zalympix.
For the uninitiated, the Zalympix is the biggest contest in the world when it comes to recreational boutique pot. The few and far between that can actually hold up with the quality of the streets. It’s hosted by Greenwolf, one of L.A.’s most famous places to buy great pot. L.A. Weekly recently took part in the process to whittle down the 109 entries to 27, for this year’s California edition.
We caught up with Greenwolf’s founders Brian and Adam to get their take on the Zalympix rocket now going national with East Coast and Michigan editions currently taking place. We started our chat by asking the pair what it had been like watching their event grow to three time zones since kicking things off in early 2021.
“It’s awesome. I mean, it’s really cool. I just feel like down to everyone involved, the cup runneth over with benefits for everyone. And it’s just really cool to see,” Brian told L.A. Weekly. He very much appreciates how taken seriously the Zalympix are in different places. Especially in Michigan, there is a lot of fire out there they hope to highlight through the competition.
“It’s just humbling to talk to some of these, you know, top-tier people in the space and have them say this competition is the pinnacle. This is the one that really stands out amongst the others these days,” Adam added.
From the outsider’s perspective, it all seemed pretty rapid for sure. Basically, as soon as the first boxes went out in 2021, people were believers. The quality of entries made it easy, as the top-shelf entries in the box mirrored the quality Greenwolf’s shelves has been famous for.
We asked the pair when they knew they were really on to something with the event as a whole. Adam and Brian debated when they first got the vibes about Zalympix possibly taking off the way it has. While the initial gut feelings are debatable, when 4,000 people showed up last year to celebrate, they knew things were looking up for the future.
This was also the first time they were ever worried. They’re not party guys per se. They wanted to ensure everything checking in that number of people went smoothly. Adam was standing out front himself grabbing VIPs and handing them wristbands.
That evening saw Zalympix go from 700 people at the inaugural awards show to 4,000. The Zalympix between the two events featured a digital awards show due to a COVID spike in L.A. But the jump in attendance raises the obvious speculation of just how big the event can go? The likely answer is pretty huge. It’s not unreasonable to think 20,000 people will be attending in the not-too-distant future. One lesson from last time is, they plan to have more delivery
Right now they are looking to lock down where they will host the Zalympix growing footprint for the upcoming awards show. Some of the possibilities they are tossing around right now could see them hosting up to 6,000 people. One thing they’re sure about is, they want to start the party a lot earlier, so vendors have more time before the 10 p.m. curfew on legal sales.
While expectations are high for the next California edition, many in the cannabis community are excited to see Zalympix branching out from California. The two had initially pondered the idea, but when their Michigan partners at Exotic Matter hit them up, it was on. Everyone believes bringing the Zalympix to Michigan will benefit the state’s best cultivators.
Adam said it’s been great working with their Michigan partners. They’re getting ready to celebrate the winners of Michigan’s second edition on April 14.
“We know they’ve had a long medical time frame there. When we got there last year, we just were shocked at how amazing the quality of the product was out there,” Adam said.
We asked the pair how the flower in places like Michigan and the East Coast stacks up with the competition back home in Los Angeles?
“I’d say, there’s a lot of good stuff in a lot of places. A lot of people are doing things out there. Especially in Michigan, they’ve always been,” Brian said. “I think it’s the second closest in terms of like, Cali quality. There are real breeders out there. They’re really doing their thing out there and they have been, so for me, it shows.”
As for the differences between the trio of Zalympix contests now happening around the country, the main thing is scale. Michigan is the smallest of the three — they have to keep things a bit more low-key and were not able to have vending at the event. Nevertheless, the vibes carried the show. Many called it one of the best events Michigan’s legal market has seen, noting it’s one of the few times all of the state’s hitters have been inside the same room. They’re hoping to push the bar further next year and be the first event in Detroit to do compliant sales.
Detroit has been a trouble spot for Michigan’s cannabis industry, and with things opening up, it looks like the time is ripe to bring things a bit closer to the population center. Back in the day, events occurred well outside of the city.
“It’s similar to being in an Adelanto or a San Bernardino. You know, they weren’t here,” Adam explained. ”They were quite the drive from like the city, and so we knew our whole goal was, as with the L.A. Zalympix to keep it in LA, in Michigan, do it in Detroit, not be an hour and a half away from town. And then same with New York, we looked at doing other spots, but you know, we just think it’s imperative to be in Manhattan.”
New York is looking dope. It’s a little different for the Greenwolf team not being there, but they’re thrilled with the lineup for the festivities on April 19. A big contingent of California’s best cannabis minds is heading east to NYC for the holiday anyway, so the timing worked out perfectly for the Greenwolf team. They’re expecting somewhere between 2,500-3,000 people for the show. Brian noted they’re going pretty hard for the next couple of weeks.
What’s the difference between the contest entries? It varies. Last year there was so much Runtz in the Michigan Zalympix, it was no Runtz allowed this year. Brian found that interesting.
“I’d say there is a lot of Z everywhere but also like more on the East Coast you see more candy, gassy stuff. I definitely know OG over there, and some OG over here (in the entries). But you know a lot surprised me. There were a lot of Exotic Genetix entries and I noticed there were some different breeders with different gear,” Brian said about the entries.
One thing that’s interesting about Zalympix’s expansion is watching its perceived value from place to place. Obviously, it’s huge here in California. But it seems like a lot of the time it’s reaffirmed many people’s takes on names like Blueprint, Deo, Zushi, and Wizard Trees. In New York, there is this different kind of quest for brands trying to catch lightning in a bottle out the gate with a win.
And boy are they. Sixty-seven brands came out in an attempt to qualify for the finals in NYC. They were narrowed down to 20. The qualifying idea in New York inspired the team to bring it back to California. The Greenwolf team selected 25 tastemakers to pick out the finalists.
“I think there’s going to be some very surprised winners in there. Some brands that you know, people may not have ever heard of, including ourselves,” Adam said.
Tickets for the New York Zalympix are still available.
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