California has had medical marijuana for quite some time now – but after the passing of Proposition 64 their cannabis industry is about to expand exponentially with recreational use legalized. That was clear this past weekend when an annual event called the Emerald Cup, which has been happening for 13 years and used to be held in secret, drew a crowd of 30,000 from around the nation to the Santa Rosa fairgrounds to celebrate and find out who the winners of this year’s competition would be.
“I’ve seen more change in the last two years, than I have in the last 20 or 30 years,” said Tim Blake, the event organizer.
The two day festival is held each year after the outdoor growing season, and cannabis growers from all around the state come together to compete for the Emerald Cup – which is the cannabis equivalent to an Oscar for growers in California. There were over 1,100 different cannabis flowers, concentrates, edibles and more that were entered into the competition this year – which is double the number of participants from the year before, proving the event is growing quickly in popularity and notoriety. Hotels were actually sold out within 30 miles of the fairgrounds, with people who came from a number of states just for the event.
“I never thought it would come this far. I thought it would be underground forever. People are really friendly, they’re mellow. The scale is wonderful.” – Pat Bakalain, activist.
There was a “medication area” where growers were passing out free joints, while vendors were selling their products – lines formed for every food vendor available and farmers were able to attend educational panels where they could learn more about the new regulations being put into place for growing medical and recreational cannabis. There are also growers from places like Colorado, who were there to sell seeds to growers who happily restocked for the next season.
“The award is the highlight of Sunday,” said marketing director Jordan Caballero. “It’s the whole reason why we’re here. It’s everyone’s hard work for the entire year and season coming together and culminating at the cup. … Walking away with a top 10 finish in the Emerald Cup — people say it’s like winning a Grammy or Emmy in cannabis. It’s a very big deal.”
This year, the winner was a strain called Zkittles – which is described as a tropical fruity strain with a very high potency. “I knew when I smoked it, that was the winner,” one judge had said. The judges had sampled over 650 entries just for the category “flowers” over the course of a month prior to the event – and this particular strain was the one that stood out the most to each of them. It will certainly be one I know many of us look forward to trying if given the chance.
We can expect that this event will only become more popular in the coming years. The Emerald Cup is already the biggest cannabis event in the state – and it will likely continue to hold that title after the success they saw this year. It’s exciting to see the industry start to come alive, people coming out of being a “closet cannabis user” and openly joining in on the festivities – as well as the outstanding number of growers and processors entering the competition for the title of the best cannabis in the state.