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At The Emerald Cup The Cannabis Runneth Over


Back in 2003, Tim Blake was looking for a way to celebrate all of his cannabis growing comrades in Mendocino County, California. He noticed that other agriculture industries usually had celebrations at the end of harvest, so why shouldn't marijuana growers? 

Jonathan Small

"I always like those country fairs  -- the sights and smells and I thought, we should do that with cannabis," he says.

Only one problem. Although medical marijuana was legal in the state back in the day, many of his growing friends weren't exactly on the up and up. This made advertising the event impossible. But word got around and somehow Blake managed to gather 100 people at his farm called Area 101 and give out a dozen or so rewards for their flower. 

Some people were so concerned about being caught that they wore masks to the event. Even some of those who won awards for their pot didn't come up to the stage to accept their prize for fear of being identified. 

But an iconic event was born. The Emerald Cup. The first-ever open public consumption cannabis competition in the U.S.

Related: This Is How Your Cannabis Is Grown

Cannabis Isn't the Only Thing Growing

This weekend marks the 15th Emerald Cup. The event is no longer held in the woods but at the sprawling Sonoma County Fair Grounds in Santa Rosa. Thirty-thousand people are expected to attend this year -- a number that's grown since the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state. Back in the day, you had to have a medical license to get in the door. Now all you need is a photo ID that proves you're legal age. 

The lively event is home to cannabis vendors, organic food trucks, garden parties, presentations on topics such as "Cannabis Spirituality" and "The Future of Vaping," live music and even a live podcast from stoner icons Jay and Silent Bob.

There's a Morrocan-themed VIP room, regenerative agriculture exhibit, and a consumption area that's clearly designated by neon green signs that read  "Cannabis consumption is all good beyond this point."  The air is so thick with smoke here, you'd think the entire Emerald Triangle was on fire. 

True to Emerald Cup tradition, five hundred entries across multiple categories including flowers, concentrates, edibles, CO2 cartridges, topicals and a range of CBD categories, will compete for Emerald Cup honors. Winners receive hand-crafted glass trophies made by local artists and a ton of bragging rights. 

Related: The Cannabis Industry's Largest Conference Showcases a Maturing Industry