Preview to Sonoma County’s 13th Emerald Cup 2016

The Emerald Cup takes place Dec. 10 and 11 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Photo: Kent Porter.
The Emerald Cup takes place Dec. 10 and 11 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Photo: Kent Porter.

On the heels of one of the largest Northern California marijuana harvest seasons and the recent state vote to legalize recreational marijuana, the 13th annual Emerald Cup may be a bellwether for what lies ahead for the Northern California cannabis industry.

The competition and festival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds Dec. 10 and 11, 2016 brings together growers, producers, speakers, doctors, farmers, social activists, dispensaries and cannabis enthusiasts for two days of awards, cannabis products, panel discussions, art and music. 

But in an industry that’s long-operated in the shadows, legalization is shedding light on needed changes in safety, land stewardship and accountability.

To that end, the Emerald Cup competition has created stringent rules requiring third party testing of cannabis submitted for judging — from extracts and flowers to edibles and topicals — by Santa Rosa’s SC Labs. Tainted samples with be disqualified and organizers plan to release the pass/fail results on the Emerald Cup website.

Last year, it was reported that nearly one in six of the estimated 400-plus Emerald Cup entries contained pesticides, mold and other hazardous residues. It’s a problem not unique to Northern California. Colorado and Washington (who have legalized recreational marijuana) have had several cannabis recalls following state-required testing. California’s Prop. 64 outlines plans for more strident testing of cannabis products, though they are currently not required for sale. The Cup’s new requirements are hoped to encourage regional growers to maintain health and safety standards.

“Each valid entry will receive a full spectrum test (microbiological, pesticide, and terpene test) from SC LABS.  We’re including the Terpene testing in recognition of the extremely important role terpenes play in how we interact and are drawn towards cannabis. We’re adding the microbiological and pesticide testing for every entry to ensure our judges don’t have to partake in any medicine that could possibly harm their health,” says the Emerald Cup website.

In addition to testing, the Emerald Cup is rolling out a new award for “regenerative farming”. Beyond organic, regenerative farming of cannabis looks at the entire agricultural process, from seed to harvest. That means sustainable practices that preserve the land, water and air, something that hasn’t been enforced under cannabis prohibition.

For the first time, the Cup will honor a grower who exemplifies these qualities and over the next three years will require all judging applicants to operate under regenerative practices.

For Tim Blake, founder of The Emerald Cup, “It’s not just about being organic anymore. Regenerative agriculture is exciting. Gone are the days, of stripping and tilling the soil to start over. Introducing and eventually implementing these requirements to The Emerald Cup is the natural progression of growing.”

Here’s more of what you need to know if you go…

Who’s playing?
Bands will play both Saturday and Sunday on two separate stages. Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley; Dirty Heads; Stick Figure; Tribal Seeds; California Honeydrops; Kabaka Pyramid; HIRIE; Raging Fyah; Nattali Rize; Vokab Kompany; Thrive; Arden Park Roots.

What can I learn?
An all-star lineup of panelists and discussions includes Frenchy Cannoli and Chrystal Ortiz on Appellations; Terpenes with SC Labs’ Josh Wurzer; Grower Jorge Cervantes; Therapeutic Treatments; The Cannabis Genome; Regenerative Farming and more.

Can anyone attend?
Anyone over the age of 18 can attend. However, you must be a medical patient to enter the outdoor medicinal area.

How can I get into the medical area?
The area reserved for cannabis patients requires a California medical marijuana prescription. Recreational marijuana usage is still in legal limbo, so medical cards are still needed. You must also be 21 or over. Only patients with a valid California patient ID will be allowed to attend the medicinal area. Other states’ medical cards are not valid. Doctors will be onsite.

Can I sample cannabis at the event?
If you have a valid California prescription and are over the age of 21.

How much are tickets?
Advance daily tickets are $70 each. Advance weekend tickets are $120.

More details at

  • theseeker1111

    So…how much of a kickback are they getting from SC Labs? And let’s see- wasn’t just in the past month or so that it came out SC Labs was one of the several labs that found very few pesticides in their samples…while another major lab in the region was finding them in a majority of their samples?

    • Shaman707

      That sounds like a paranoid conspiracy theorist question.

      • theseeker1111

        Really? I have a lot of experience with the testing labs in NorCal. SC Labs are among those that tend to report rather high results. And from experience- it tends to be even worse with their big customers. On the flipside- the same with being low on mold and pesticide residues.

        We have seen this in all the states- until the labs are FULLY accountable to the state, the majority of labs tend to return results that are high on the positives, low on the negatives.

        Lab testing is supposed to inspire trust- throughout the supply chain. Sadly, this is not currently the reality.

        • Shaman707

          Easy there Seeker….I’m just twisting your tail.

  • Johnnie Agincourt

    Will there be a presentation from the cartels south of the border on how they will change their farming and distribution practices?…

    • Shaman707

      They really shouldn’t have to change much. New dope will be taxed. So, the cartels, being the good market-driven capitalists that they are, should have no problem bootlegging their dope and undercutting their legitimate, government controlled, competition. Our government handlers have absolutely no intention of stopping the cartels. They are just looking for a way to tax and exploit people, through any means possible, in order to keep the gravy train running (with really loud horns?) a little longer. Perhaps the new taxation will take the county from a billion unfunded pension liability dollars to, say, only 850 million or so. Personally, I plan to take the STOOPID train to San Rafael to buy my legal dope. It’s my way of protesting the Courthouse Square thingy. What will be REALLY fun is when the feds come and snatch all the tax money because dope is still against federal law. That’ll be a hoot! Hmmmm, I just read over my rant. I think I need to attend the doper fair so I can calm down, with some “medicine”.

      • theseeker1111

        Ah yes. So please expalain in the current environment how the state/county are supposed to stop “the cartels”. Which I hope you include in the definition – the thousands of americancs who have perverted both the letter, and the spirit of prop 215 to grow huge amounts of cannabis that can’t be sold in CA, but is good enough to export to prohibitionist states. More often then not causing the environmental damage, the crime, the worker abuses- that have given this industry a bad name.

        Be honest for once. When legitimate grows are registered and permitted- it will free up enforcement to go after the bad actors. Bot like the situation we’ve had for a long time- where things were so convoluted it was hardly worth going after anyone but the most egregious.

        • Shaman707

          I agree with you in concept. But any time we add government to a situation, it doesn’t seem to make things better. I say legalized everything and keep government out of people’s private lives.

  • Pothole

    Who’s playing? Stick Figure a must see! Can’t wait. (disclaimer; my avatar name, in no way related to ganja)

  • A “marijuana re-call”? The times they are a-changin’.

  • HurdeyGurdey

    Are they selling cannabis there? When does the “recreational use” law start? Will the Feds be doing their usual video taping of those in attendance?

    • theseeker1111

      No. Jan 2018. And not going to bother answering that paranoid conspiracy theorist question.

    • Shaman707

      No, they’re giving “medicine samples”. 1-1-18. Yes.

  • Todd Gack

    Load up the kids and bring them on down!

    • Shaman707

      Dood……Will there be food and stuff? I always need food after I take my “medicine”.

    • homey

      Don’t forget to buy a box of Twinkies!

      After we get home, Cap’n Crunch for everyone!

  • scratchnich

    Oh just look at all that fake happiness!

  • theseeker1111

    I will attend- for no reason other networking. But I am not a fan of these events- and I hope we can move beyond this model. Let’s be honest- (as a friend said the other day) this is the cannabis’ world version of alcohols Mardi Gras or Spring Break. It neither represents where we are nor where we are going.

    • Shaman707

      Agree! (Mostly). It represents exactly where we are going though. A bunch of youngsters, getting stoned out of their minds, because it’s “legal”. (Except, it’s not. Because the feds still say it’s not.) And now that government is involved, it will be a Courthouse Square, STOOPID train, pension liability, big dig, all “rolled up” into one big, fat, waste of time. Grow and smoke your own.