Over 30,000 attended the “Emerald Cup” at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds this past weekend, where farmers, families and friends of marijuana could visit 394 exhibitor booths. The fair made a huge statement about the economic boom associated with California’s top agricultural crop.
The theme of this year’s 80th anniversary Sonoma County Fair over the summer was, “Leave your mark on the future.” About 258,000 guests, up 2 percent, attended to enjoy great junk food, rides, music and competition by dozens of wineries to be crowned the worlds’ best Cabernet, Chardonnay and Merlot.
The second year of the Emerald Cup, which ran from December 10 to 100, had 30,000 attendees, up 50 percent from last year. The event featured 1,100 competitors trying to be crowned the world’s best in the marijuana industry — the best marijuana flowers, extracts, and edibles. There were no big rides, but lots of junk food, given the attendees’ ravenous need to quench the munchies.
Founder Tim Blake, who has farmed Sonoma pot for 40 years, trumpeted: “Emerald Cup sets the standard for the best cannabis strains, seeds, edibles and topicles. As a world renowned competition, the Cup sets California’s top growers head to head as our experienced judges new and old put their work to the test.”
Like the head of any county agricultural “Grange,” Blake cheered that “demand for our sacred herb” has been skyrocketing and the “Feds have no power to turn back the clock” after the November 8, 2016 passage of Proposition 64 legalization of adult use cannabis.
With a state market for “weed” that is already larger than Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and several other states combined, California is becoming recognized as the world leader in the production of high-grade medicinal cannabis. Blake bellowed, “The writing’s on the wall and the time is over for the old school ways of failed law enforcement tactics.”
This year’s competitive judging involved about 300 signature “varietals,” a 50 percent increase over last year. There were also special points awarded for “Professional Marijuana Trimmers” who still produce outdoor-grown, organic cannabis.
According to marketing director Jordan Caballero, “Walking away with a top 10 finish in the Emerald Cup — people say it’s like winning a Grammy or Emmy in cannabis.” But the competition lasts for the entire month of November and is somewhat laid back, due to a minor problem with the judges “getting wasted.”
Clinical patients attending the fair’s “medication area” were able to buy and consume flower buds and baked goods from the cannabis bazaar. There were also THC-infused mouth drops and cannabis beauty rubs available as great Christmas stocking stuffers.
For those who just realized they had a medical condition and needed to try the “cooperatives’” free joints and hash, physicians were on hand to write “scripts” for $100 each.
The Emerald Cup is believed to have generated millions of dollars for the Sonoma County community, with from attendees flying or being bused in from as far away as New Jersey, Michigan and Florida. Local hotels reported being sold out for 30 miles in every direction.
California’s chief pot regulator Lori Ajax, Assemblyman Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg), and Board of Equalization Member Fiona Ma were in attendance to make sure Sacramento politicians receive their estimated $1 billion “hit” from the expected new weed tax revenue.