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19th Emerald Cup Awards highlighted the best in CA cannabis at The Craneway Pavilion

The 19th annual Emerald Cup held its Awards Show at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA this past weekend. Right next to the Rosie the Riveter museum, the Emerald Cup Awards Show also highlighted a can-do attitude in the face of adversity. It was a celebration so epic that it seemed like time stopped for the duration. I was vibin’ and so was every single person that I talked with. Even lines like “they owe me money” were said with a slightly different tone than usual. The Pavilion was set up with the entrance on one end and the stage on the far end. Right when you walk in, you were greeted with displays of all the entrants into this years’ Emerald Cup.
jacks and hazes on display at emerald cup awards show 2023
Dear reader, just so you know how biased af I am – I only took pictures of the Jacks + Haze class entries.
All along the inside and outside perimeter facing the water, booths featuring supporting brands were set up. In front of the dual purpose concert and awards stage, hundreds of seats were laid out under fourteen flags bearing an embroidered cannabis leaf. Further back, tables were set up for those that preferred to stand. Sharing is caring and everyone was highlighting their best, not just the entrants!
mikey tebb and justin lee at emerald cup awards show
Ay Papi Co founder Justin Lee showing some rosin to Chronic Culture video magician Mikey Tebb
There were over a dozen musical performances throughout the night of many different genres – all known and shown to pair well with cannabis.
nikka t at emerald cup awards show
Caught up with Nikka T at the tables and tried some HA OG!
Here’s a quick play by play of how 420 (part 1) went down.
brightstarmatt emerald cup led sign
This is actually the smaller sign.
At 4PM, the doors opened. The Emerald Cup had a shiny new LED sign by @brightstarmatt that I saw get put on display. At 4:20PM, Madame Cannoli and two of Frenchy Cannoli’s apprentices – Cherry Blossom Belle and Lena of Cannam Garden – fired up the hookah with a mix of Beach Day and Jelly Rancher. The next hookah bowl was full of Orange Turbo and something else that got me so ripped I can’t remember anymore.
frenchy hookah with madame cannoli, cherry blossom belle, and lena
Left: Lena, Middle: Madame Cannoli, Right: Cherry Blossom Belle
The smells. Oh the smells. The awards show was a blur with so much clapping, so much inspiration, and quite the smoke/vapor cloud hanging overhead. I stepped outside to a table where I could still see the stage for the rest of the awards.

Some of my fave awards from the Emerald Cup Awards Show 2023

“Willie Nelson” Lifetime Achievement Award

Mila Jansen

Visionary Award

Amber E. Senter

Social Justice Award

Weldon Angelos

Trailblazer Award

Alex Aquino

Breeder’s Hall of Fame


First Place Ice Water Hash

Heritage Hash – White Thorn Rose

First Place Hydrocarbon

Jetty Extracts – Super Lemon Haze

First Place Rosin

FullyMelted x Alien Labs – Zkittlez

First Place Indoor Flower

Fig Farms – Blue Face

First Place Sungrown Flower

Rebel Grown – Double OG Chem #14

First Place Mixed Light Flower

Ridgeline Farms – LANTZ

First Place Sungrown Personal Use Flower

Mountain Cultured – Terp Blendz 241

First Place Sungrown Third Party Certified Flower

Sol Spirit Farm – Element

First Place Sungrown Greenhouse Flower

Chameleon Craft – Bubble Bath

First Place Best In Show Flower

Fig Farms – Blue Face

Breeder’s Cup Indoor

Fig Farms – Blue Face

Breeder’s Cup Outdoor

Rebel Grown – Double OG Chem

Breeder’s Cup Mixed Light

Ridgeline Farms – Lantz For the full list, go to

Indoor flower won Best in Show at Emerald Cup Awards Show 2023

blue face by fig farms strain review by cali_bud_reviews
Thanks to Cali_bud_reviews for this shot of the 2023 best in show Fig Farms Blue Face
This is the first time in the Emerald Cup’s 19 year history that indoor flower has won Best in Show. This is a sure sign of changing preferences and demographics among the judges, contestants, and some might even argue it is a lagging indicator of consumer preferences. It’s a worthy discussion, but for now let’s stick to celebrating. The metrc numbers don’t lie (when it comes to off the shelf sales at least) and people sing Fig Farms’ praises until they’re blue in the face. Congrats to Mike and the rest of the Fig Farms team!

1st Place Sungrown Flower goes to Rebel Grown

rebel grown at emerald cup awards 2023 winning 1st place sungrown flower Rebel Grown winning first place Sungrown with Double OG Chem #15 and placing with another pheno and also winning a third Breeders’ Cup. Every year, history is made. Congratulations to Dan and the rest of the Rebel Grown fam.

1st Place Mixed Light Flower goes to Lantz

lantz wins emerald cup 2023 1st place mixed light flower Ridgeline Farms Lantz won. I remember at the beginning of the event talking with the Redwood Roots fam and hearing the thought – the hope – that Ridgeline winning with Lantz would be historical. Why? Because Lantz’s parents are Green Lantern and Ridgeline Runtz – two cultivars by Ridgeline that had previously won 1st place at previous Emerald Cups. Congrats to Jason and Ridgeline Farm. All three of these growers/breeders deserve all the flowers they’re receiving for their flower. I heard multiple people call the Emerald Cup the Oscars of cannabis or the Grammy’s of cannabis. It’s a good analogy, considering how cali-centric Emerald Cup is. Making predictions on who is going to win is always a crapshoot. Sure, everybody has a stake in who they want to win –  A favorite brand, a favorite cultivar, maybe even a favorite growing method. The stakes are high, winners are celebrated and could benefit from the exposure. Despite that, there was no knife’s edge aire of competition; rather, the atmosphere was one of pure camaraderie. Congratulations to every brand and person that placed and a heartfelt thank you to all who entered because that’s what keeps the cup going.

What awards does The Highest Critic particularly look at?

Every single award is impressive and every winner should hit THC up for some free coverage but there are a few awards that are arguably more prestigious than the rest. Obvious ones like the aforementioned Best in Show and Breeders Cups, but for me as a tuff puffer, the entire top 20 list of all the flower and hash categories are of particular interest – and the history of the Emerald Cup means Sungrown is the most competitive category hands down. It’s important to remember that the only part of the Emerald Cup that is still the same as before – as in that it’s open to EVERYBODY to enter – is the Personal use category. I try to keep my eye on as many developments in the space as possible, the thing that I logically would keep my eye on would be the Personal Use section.

Personal Use Winners deserve your attention

Byrd Extracts won for Personal Use Solventless. If you don’t know who Byrd is, check out HashWriter’s writeup on the Big Tech Hashashin. He runs hash classes and to say he’s well known in the hash space is an understatement. He won with his Purple Magic.
nate and brandi on stage mountain cultured terp blend 241 wins emerald cup award 2023
If they aren’t on your must watch list already, they should be.
For sungrown flower, the winner was a brand called Mountain Cultured and their winning cultivar was named Terp Blendz 241. An unnamed cultivar won at Emerald Cup? Yeah. I caught up with the breeder, Farmer Nate (a fellow Ganjier) who gave me some more info on the lineage:
“241 is an AMLime pheno that is part of our terp Blendz project we did with a select male from our AMLime line. We are running the progeny from the BX now. Super excited to see some amazing expressions coming from this project! Off to a great start 💚.”
He even gave me some tasting notes:
“We have not named the 241 yet. It has some really unique characteristics: a lotta garlic onion, BO, strong lime, and citrus fuel. It’s a really complex, interesting flower.”
mountain cultured farmer nate and one of his nugs

Third Party Certified deserves your attention, too

Sun and Earth, Dragonfly Earth Medicine, OCAL, etc. If a farm is doing the work to show you that you shouldn’t panic – you should pay attention. First place Sungrown Third Party Certified went to Trinity County’s Sol Spirit Farm for their Element cultivar.
sol spirit farm at emerald cup awards 2023 winning 1st place sungrown third party certified
Walter and Judi’s Sol Spirit Farm also hosts Sol Spirit Retreats.

Huckleberry Hill Farm’s White Thorn Rose wins big, again

john casali huckleberryhillfarms and other humboldt legends
Every corner had congregations of legends like this.
There are also farms that win big without even entering any flowers. This is the case with Huckleberry Hill Farms’ White Thorn Rose. The solventless hash processed by Heritage Hash won 1st place again while the infused preroll featuring WTR on WTR also won first place in the Infused Pre Roll category – which Emerald Cup says is one of its fastest growing. Winning one Emerald Cup Award is cool enough – just ask @freegrow8 – the winner of the Amateur Photography Award. freegrow8 amateur photography award emerald cup 2023 Or any of the three already well decorated chef founders of Oui’d Confections, who took home a 1st place Emerald Cup Award in the Edible Sweets category with their infused chocolate bonbons. But taking multiple awards every year, year after year? There are titans in this industry walking among us, brushing shoulders and dropping knowledge. This magical event transports us to an alternate reality where people actually appreciate and celebrate that. As Julie Chiariello of Skunk Magazine says: Long live the Emerald Cup.

Emerald Cup Awards Show After Party

At the end of the awards show, the after party started – Scheduled to run past sunrise. The Craneway Pavilion is right on the water and is actually a stoner’s stoned stone’s throw away from the red carpet. A double decker boat pulled up and people moved to the boat for the featured boat party held by Guild Extracts. Those that tested their sea legs had the opportunity to take a dab out of an ice sculpture. What a pleasantly crafted campaign.
guild extracts ice sculpture dabs with campaigncrafter
Not pictured: the rig and the person hitting it to the left.
In the pavilion, the music was going. The rows of folding chairs were removed to make way for a stage surrounded by couches in a semi circle facing the muzik – which was quite bumpin’. Conversations were yelled or just mimed. I saw many gifts and instructions on how to use them exchanged without a single word just hands to mouth. Am I allowed to jokingly call this a concert specific Hightalian or Stoned Ape accent? emerald cup awards show craneway pavilion stage At some point in the AM, I overheard two people talking about how nice the event was because of a lack of certain MSOs and the vibe they bring. I was thinking the same thing. It’s funny, the Emerald Cup Awards Show can be broken up into the part that happened in the PM, and the part that happened in the AM. The parts that happened in the PM, namely the awards – will echo in history for eternity. The parts that happened in the AM were much more intimate. Old friends caught up, people danced, people vibed, and people fried.
dre4mthebay orange turbo hash
O.T. stands for over time and Orange Turbo
I was blessed with a chunk of Orange Turbo hash by Dre from the Bay. My first personal taste of the Orange Turbo Group Grow Project in Frenchy’s name besides the hookah from earlier. Ooh La La. The later it got, the less people were around… But I made it to 420 part 2. 4AM – Pat from Farmer and the Felon went on for the last set. I’m forever grateful to him for two things: He adjusted the volume to bearable levels and I was able to remove my earplugs and the Farmer and the Felon team also went around and blessed the handful of people on the couches with jars. Grape Ape and Doc 15… Even the sleeping people got blessed. Of the two, I should have smoked the Doc but I went grape and well, it was great. 4:20AM – We were all smoking some Farmer and the Felon. The chill music meshed perfectly with the vibe and time stood still for a second. Then the beat dropped.
farmer and the felon grape ape and doc 15 jars at emerald cup awards show 2023
What’s up Doc?
At 5AM, the music faded to punctuated yawns. The number of hanging cannabis flags outnumbered the number of flagging hanger-onners and the #madeittosunrise crew congregated around and inside the iconic orange Farmer and the Felon van. “Ready to work” as Tim Blake put it. After all, the event organizers still had to put out breakfast for the planned wake n’ bake and see the event over and the venue returned to its non-cannabis celebratory state. jerome of northbound films sitting in the farmer and the felon van at emerald up 2023 Shortly before 9AM, I was walking in the parking lot when I saw Swami come out of the RV parked next to my van. Neighbors for a night.
swami at emerald cup awards show 2023
Swami deserves all the flowers. This particular flower was gifted to him by Alex of
If y’all want to catch Swami and Nikki – please come to the Mendocino Craft Farmers Auction in June! After 9AM, it became clear that the magical timewarp into the alternate universe of The Emerald Cup was over. The brief glimpse into the future where cannabis is completely normalized and the entire world celebrates the best breeders, growers, processors, and innovators in the space ended. While standing and smoking a doobie of the Cheese pheno of AM Lime – a sister of the Terp Blendz 241 – with the Ganjier Grounds’ own Ganjier, Alex… parking lot security drove by and told us we couldn’t smoke here. Til’ the next time!
sc labs cofounder alec dixon walking with emerald cup founder tim blake
SC Labs’ Alec Dixon and Emerald Cup’s Tim Blake walking towards Craneway Pavilion at Emerald Cup Awards Show 2023
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Founder of The Highest Critic
Unpaid /r/trees mod
Certified Ganjier
Kine bud enthusiast

flower mill ad - X grind, yes mill

Caleb Chen

Founder of The Highest Critic Unpaid /r/trees mod Certified Ganjier Kine bud enthusiast

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