The 2015 Emerald Cup

We did it again! Twelve judges and 400+ flower samples. We had about 3 weeks to do it, and with a completely blind testing regimen, the winner is once more from our own town of Laytonville, Mendocino County. It’s Jackson, aka “Mean Gene” – although this man does not have a mean bone in his body and is a gentle guy who simply LOVES his plants. I can imagine it’s easy for observers to wonder why Mendo wins so often, but all I can say is that, it just does. Amongst the Mendonesians (as we call ourselves) are some of the original growers and so the lineage has been established and lessons passed down through the generations. The genetics are here, with seed stocks and terroir soil and the sweetest water in the country. Ganja Ma is a happy goddess in our little piece of paradise.

The contestants in The Cup this year came from all over California and the competition was intense. The whole cannabis world is getting serious, a side effect from becoming legal, I guess. It is business now, and you felt that all over the Sonoma County Fairgrounds this past weekend, where The Emerald Cup was held for the third year in a row. The attendance was more than double that of last year, as was the amount of booths and various displays. Everyone stepped up to be noticed. “Branding” was abundant, a marketers’ marketplace, as evidenced by the tons of super cool booths decked out with logos and merchandise. It was surreal, really, to hear young guys dabbing while discussing cannabis futures.

SS booth

It’s like watching a lotus opening, as our beloved farming profession emerges into the light, petal by petal, each petal a new brand or concept of what to do with cannabis. From dabs to rosins and vapes and edibles in every form, the sacred flower is finding myriad ways to present herself. I’m still a flowers girl and always will be, but I do appreciate some of the incredible edibles coming out, like the “Parmesan” that has no cheese in it or some of the other savory forms. My absolute fave though, if I were an edibles judge instead of a flowers judge, would be anything from Baked in Humboldt. I only eat sugar if it has ganja in it, so that keeps a limit on my intake. Which makes me love sweet delicious edibles, “Just a small piece”, all the more!

Ah, the day after The Cup. The weeks of judging and preparing for our Swami Select booth are finally over. This is a day to stop and relax and reflect. This year it’s also a day to be very silent, as my voice is completely gone from all the talking over the weekend. No problem, I enjoy the quiet, and it encourages me to step back and observe. Once again, I am blown away by what has been created with The Emerald Cup. How well I recall sitting around trim tables with Tim Blake 15 years ago, fantasizing about “Marijuana Museums” and competitions. So there you have it, dreams do become reality, with enough hard work, vision and, in this case especially, courage. Tim Blake specializes in all three of those qualities, and here we are today. The day after The Cup. Exhausted but proud.

And no doubt we’ll do it again next year. It is such an honor to be a judge in The Emerald Cup – I know so many people who want this job, but I doubt they all are aware of the time and commitment it takes to be a judge. Basically, we devote a month out of every year to The Cup. I do it to taste the varieties, to see what is being grown out there, and to perfect my own skills as a cannabis connoisseur. The highlight of course is Sunday just around 4:20 when Swami and I go on stage and Tim and Taylor Blake hand us the microphone to announce the winners.

This year was even more special, though. We decided it was time for Tim Blake to get an award for all he has done for the Cannabis world, so Swami and I conferred with the other flower judges who all agreed. We commissioned our dear friend and amazing artist, Nancy Calef, to create a painting of Jesus walking off a spaceship, handing a cannabis plant to a smiling Tim. Then to top it off, I ordered enough emerald green judges robes (actually for a choir) for everyone. So when Tim handed us the microphone I held him there and said, “You’re not going anywhere, Tim. This year we have an award for you,” as behind us 10 green-robed judges paraded onto the stage and presented the painting to Tim. What a moment! Tim beamed and held the painting up for all to see – and this is what we do it all for. The joy. The sense of accomplishment. The knowing that together we have provided an arena for cannabis to shine and bring health and happiness to so very very many.

And so we close another year with The Emerald Cup, a wonderful tradition in our lives for the past 12 years. I may not be able to speak today, but I can feel, and I feel proud of us all. We have taken it to a whole new level and the next generations will benefit greatly. In fact, I imagine they will look back on the years of cannabis prohibition as ridiculous. It’s been a long road, but the summit is finally in sight.

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