Marijuana Policy Project
Curved Papers

Emerald Cup Grows in Santa Rosa

Green Scene: Some of the 600 marijuana entries in the Emerald Cup display case.

California's largest cannabis competition and celebration was held last weekend at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa. Slightly Stoopid and Ozomatli headlined two nights of music, and an estimated 10,000 people attended the Emerald Cup

More then 600 contestants entered in the outdoor bud competition, with the top prize going to first-time entrant and long-time gardener Joe Peinado of Mendocino for his Sweet Serenade (Diesel x Ogre with 26% THC). 

After a massive two-day downpour brought much-needed rain along with some flooding and power outages to Northern California, the skies cleared and attendees enjoyed pleasant weather at the indoor/outdoor venue. Many crowded into the 215 area, which featured a much-expanded line of products including a CBD sublingual spray and a portable vape pen ("Bhangstick") in a sleek carrying case from Bhang Chococlate.

Workshops on genetics and cultivation were presented on the main stage, while the Cannabis Culture stage hosted panels on grassroots organizing, efforts to legalize in California in 2016, current cannabinoid research and the coming marijuana marketplace. Parents had a panel, as did veterans and women. Native American activist John Trudell was among the performers, and Anna Owen and Linda Delair from his organization Hempstead Project Heart presented on the hemp panel, along with author Doug Fine. Longtime cannabis journalist and editor of O’Shaughnessy’s Fred Gardner took home the Lifetime Achievement Award. 

The event kicked off with a Friday night party hosted by the California Cannabis Industry Association, headed by former LEAP member Nate Bradley. Co-sponsored by O.pen Vape, which is opening up an office in Southern California, the party was full of thirty-something professional-looking hipsters. The Emerald Growers Association hosted a well-attended confab at 9 am on Sunday morning, proving it wasn’t all about the parties. 

Coalescing around a measure in 2016 that will protect the cottage industry and rural economies in California, the long-running Emerald Cup is a big part of that. Last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner Debby Goldsberry wrote on her Facebook page the next morning, “Woke up very excited, after having such a fun time at the Emerald Cup, and finally realizing that the guys in suits and ties are never going to be able to overrun our culture. We are strong, creative, loving and kind." 

Ellen Komp

Ellen Komp

Hemp/marijuana activist and writer based in Berkeley, California. She blogs at