Revered in the California cannabis community for nearly two decades, the Emerald Cup is an institution known for honoring the cream of the crop. Bringing together farmers, extractors, edible makers, activists, retailers, glass blowers, and other industry professionals, the Cup has been a source of celebration and community since its inception.
This year’s competition had a taste of Hollywood glitz and glamour, with the awards ceremony taking place at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in Los Angeles. Previous iterations have traditionally been held in Northern California, but 2022 was the year Founder Tim Blake and his team decided to officially take the party south.
“When legalization came in 2017, I had a vision that we needed to move the Cup to LA for the good of the contestants, the vendors, (and) the sponsors,” Blake said in his opening remarks, adding that the move was meant to increase visibility in the biggest media market in the country.
While some legacy operators bemoaned the move, Blake and the rest of the Emerald Cup family insisted the decision was meant to benefit the community as a whole, introducing the NorCal farmers to La La Land. In a city where indoor designer weed is seemingly the only thing that matters, it was crucial for sun-grown flower to have its time to shine.
“I’ll admit, I was skeptical about the move at first just like a lot of the others,” said Ted Blair of Canna Country. “But I see now how important it was for us to come down and try to unify our state’s market.”
The Woods Launch Kicks Off Epic Weekend
The weekend’s festivities unofficially began the day before the Emerald Cup Awards, beginning with the grand opening of The Woods dispensary in West Hollywood. Co-founded by actor and activist Woody Harrelson, The Woods has several sun-grown, regenerative farm grown brands showcased prominently throughout the shop. An Emerald Cup display is also featured, thanks in part to a budding friendship between Harrelson and Blake (Harrelson took home the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award the next night at the awards show).
The ribbon-cutting ceremony attracted an interesting crowd made up of politicians, activists, celebrities, and farmers alike. A large crowd excited to peruse the wares and relax in the open-air koi pond out back formed quickly, with a line stretching down the block by the time the store was open for business. Later that night, a VIP celebration went down at the adjacent restaurant, seeing Harrelson and pal Bill Maher mingling with many of the legacy farmers responsible for growing the fine flowers for sale next door.
A farmer’s market at LAPCG was the destination for many between the ribbon cutting and the after-party. Curated by Chelsea Ludvitch, the market featured many of the legacy brands on sale at The Woods and several additions. Outback, a DJ spun chill tracks by Khruanbin while guests mingled. A taco truck offered a delicious aroma alongside the haze of cannabis smoke wafting through the air.
And while Friday’s festivities were indeed exciting, it was the main event on Saturday that truly had people buzzing.
The Academy Awards of Weed
The Emerald Cup is a competition through and through, but the vibe has always been about bringing the community together. In an epic show of solidarity, Tina Gordon of Moon Made Farms encouraged all of the Emerald Triangle farmers and activists in town for the event to walk down Hollywood Boulevard to the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre as a unified group. It was likely the most inspiring moment of the entire weekend, as it signified community in the truest sense.
Moments later, the doors to the Emerald Cup Awards officially opened. A long line of contestants, industry professionals, and press soon clamored to get inside. The line moved slowly but there were plenty of joints going around to pass the time.
Ticketholders were treated to the full red carpet experience on their way into the venue, before being met by a grand display of all the Cup’s 2022 entries. This year’s Emerald Cup was the first to utilize a new classification system for judging flower entries, which saw strains divided by terpene profile instead of simple indica vs. sativa. The PhytoFacts® classification system, developed by Napro Research and SC Labs, sees cultivars broken down into six unique flavor categories: Jacks and Hazes; Tropical and Floral; OGs and Gas; Sweets and Dreams; Dessert; and Exotics. You can read more about it HERE.
On the second-floor mezzanine, a dab bar with plenty of Puffcos to go around awaited guests mingling before the show. Those wishing to smoke flower were sent up the fire-escape feeling staircase outside to the rooftop sesh space.
The rooftop quickly became the place to be. Tasty pastries, coffee drinks, cocktails, and even pizza were offered on the perimeter, while a generous activation from indoor flower Breeder’s Cup winner Fig Farms provided plenty of quality bud for those in need. A DJ booth with plenty of crystals to align the entire crowd’s chakras sat in the corner, while Linzy Miggantz offered live painting a stone’s throw away.
Downstairs in the theater, the 2022 Emerald Cups Awards show officially began just after 8pm. A thrilling video recap of the Cup’s road to Hollywood psyched up the crowd, and it wasn’t long before the custom Ryan Fitt Puffco Peak Pro statues began flowing.
The sheer number of categories in this year’s competition was almost overwhelming, which just goes to show that the cannabis industry of today truly offers something for everyone. Early awards went to a bevy of brands providing hemp-derived and alternative cannabinoid products (aka things that do not JUST contain THC).
“We are very honored to have been recognized for our sleep gummies,” said Guy Rocourt, Co-founder & CEO of Papa & Barkley, who took First Place in the Alternative Cannabinoid Edible category. “At Papa And Barkley we try to make products based on cannabis science and are happy that we have been recognized for solventless, clean label products that really embody what we think is the future of cannabis wellness.”
Wellness was indeed on the forefront of this year’s awards, with several health-centric products receiving accolades. Cult-favorite Carter’s Aromatherapy Designs notched a W for their Rasta Roll-on while woman-owned OM Wellness took home a couple of awards for their popular bath bombs. Regenerative Farm Award-winner Emerald Spirit Botanicals also put medicinal cannabinoids front and center thanks to their bevy of one-to-one strains including a number that are high in THC-V. Their Pink Boost Goddess took first place for 3rd-party certified sun-grown flower.
“This is Not a Competition, It’s an Exhibition…”
Fast forward to the edibles portion of the show, which was presented by comedian and cannabis community staple Ngaio Bealum, also a judge in the category.
“This is not a competition, it’s an exhibition,” Bealum said how far the contest had come.
A diverse array of sweets, savory snacks, and beverages alike took home accolades including Potli, Hi-Fi Hops, and Cosmic Edibles, whose cookie dough collab with Kalya Extracts won first place in the “Sweet” category.
Several Kayla collabs earned awards throughout the night, putting the solventless squad among the top winners. Other winners on the concentrates side included Berkeley legacy brand Doc Green’s, aptly named URSA Extracts, Heritage Hash Co., and fan favorites Rosin Tech Labs.
For solventless personal use, Wooksauce Winery took home the top prize, beating out perennial contender Brett Byrd of Byrd Extracts. Parker PZ Moselle was voted best in personal flower, another coveted award as these categories represent the people’s favorites.
The final awards of the night were presented by industry favorites Nikki Lastreto and Swami, bringing everything back to the finest plant in the state. After doling out trophies for the best pre-rolls, 3rd-party certified varietals, and personal use, the final accolades went to the four biggest categories of the night in terms of both clout and number of entrants.
Santa Barbara dominated the mixed light greenhouse category, but it was NorCal that took home the big three awards. Mendocino cultivators LitHouse essentially swept mixed-light, with their Modified Grapes, Jealousy, and Lemon Lava taking first, second, and third respectively.
Fig Farms had a grand showing for indoor, with the Bay Area company taking first for their ever-popular Animal Face. They also won third for sister strain Fig Face and fifth for Holy Moly! (also the Breeder’s Cup winner).
Farmer and the Felon ended up with the final two prizes of the night, winning first place in sun-grown as well as Best in Show for their Lemon Sponge Cake. The CannaCraft brand saw several entries place, taking five trophies in all just for sun-grown.
“The prolific gas nose, and the structure of the flower being so true to the strain itself, it was just a clear standout,” recalled flower judge Joey Sullivan, buyer for Mercy Wellness. “Half the judges at the table couldn’t finish the joint — and that was the deciding factor. I was really glad to see sun-grown take top honors.”
By the end of the awards show, everyone was more than ready to blaze and party hard. The winner’s circle lounge behind the stage was a perfectly chill spot to chat and vibe but the rooftop was the true hot spot. Guests smoked and dance the night away, keeping the sesh going until nearly 3 am.
It was a fantastic end to a remarkably fun and groundbreaking weekend, one deemed a wild success by nearly all accounts. An integration of NorCal traditions and SoCal splash made for one of the most epic Emerald Cups of all time, spawning a new era for the competition sure to go the distance.