The Cup is an industry-heavy event, a marijuana competition that attracts experienced cultivators and collective patient-members from throughout the West, most from California. A large contingent of competitors are from the tri-county area of far northern California where the Cup started: the “Emerald Triangle” of Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties.
The top three winners for the category of flowers were (1) Cherry Limeade from Mean Gene from Mendocino, Freeborn Selections/Aficionado, (2) Lemonhead OG from Josh Pope, THC, and (3) Purple Candy Cane from Greenshock Farms Mendocino. The top three winners for the category of flowers CBD were (1) Critical Mass CBD from Matthew Cirincioni, Chalawa Farms, (2) Cannatonic from Duncan McIntosh/Singing Frogs Family Farm, and (3) Love’n Hope from Jude Nagle, Mendocino Medicinals.
One focus of the 2015 talks was the changes the California Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act (MMRSA) will bring starting January 1, 2016. Speakers discussed how counties and cities will react in terms of encouraging or preventing cultivation and the operation of dispensaries. Speakers also talked about the development of sustainable growing practices, particularly in light of California’s drought.
The event was partitioned into “215” and “non-215” areas. Employees of Peace in Medicine, a large Sonoma County-based medical marijuana collective, contributed to the event by checking that an individual had a current recommendation and a form of identification that matched it.
In the “215” areas, individuals with a doctor’s recommendation to use marijuana could sample dabs, edibles, and joints. The term “215” refers to Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which allows an individual to use marijuana for medical purposes if he or she has a recommendation from a qualified doctor. Individuals without a medical recommendation could sign up on-site in a hall with doctors in private, black-curtained spaces.
Despite the numerous medical relief tents around the grounds and the lack of limitations on marijuana use for those who had recommendations, few individuals needed medical attention for marijuana use. Many attendees, some in wheelchairs and others on crutches, appeared to be getting a significant amount of relief from marijuana samples.
Linzy Miggantz, an artist from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania who traveled from her home to paint psychedelic canvases live at the Cup, said marijuana relieves the serious symptoms she suffers from Crohn’s disease. She has lived with the disease for approximately nine years.
“I’ve been feeling better than I ever have. I wanted to paint for the Emerald Cup because I am so grateful that you guys celebrate people who grow organic outdoor weed,” said Miggantz.
Janet, an attendee who declined to give her last name, said, “Marijuana makes a huge difference (in terms of treatment). Sometimes it helps take care of the symptoms the pain medications cause, such as the pain caused by a cortisone shot.”
Canna-Lovers Milling Around the 2015 Emerald Cup at the Sonoma County FairgroundsTastes at the Cup were diverse. Food stands offered souvlaki, chorizo sandwiches, ginger fried plantains, mango lassis, and battered shrimp. Other vendors showcased self-watering “EcoGrow” cages, organic fertilizers, solar panel installation, irrigation systems, artistic glass bongs, marijuana-decorated clothing, clones, and feminized seeds.
Ray Ingham, a nursery worker at Artifact Nursery in Laytonville, California, said, “We’ve had a great turnout and very friendly people here.”
R.D., director of SoCal Seed Company, said, “The culture is well represented at this show, more so than at other events.”
Kym Ferrari, creator of “4 Love Oil,” a cannabis-infused coconut oil advertised as a sexual aid, said, “The organic Emerald Cup is different than all other cannabis venues. Cannabis energy and knowledge was everywhere. It’s the compassionate care mentality of the people who attend and those who make this amazing spiritual harvest celebration happen. This is truly an event of the people, for the people.”
David LaFontaine, an employee of Sonoma Patient Group, a medical marijuana dispensary in Santa Rosa, California, said, “The best way to describe the spirit here is that at the beginning of the (first) day, I saw a guy drop all his things. Vendor after vendor came to help him pick them up. People are just trying to better everyone around them.”
A number of vendors came to showcase new products. Michael Lewis, Chief Operating Officer and co-founder of Sprig, a THC-infused soda company based in Newport Beach, California, said he was happy to bring a product that was “approachable and manageable” to the Cup.
“People like the fact that it’s discreet. You can take it to the beach or concerts. There’s no cannabis taste to it. It has an uplifting and energetic buzz,” said Lewis.
Mz Jill, a seed breeder with TGA Subcool Seeds, said, “TGA has a lot of new strains out right now such as the Grape Inferno, Shangri-La, and Go Time.”
Malinda Ashley, a patient-member of Emerald Alchemy, a Santa Cruz, California, all-women collective, said, “Our 20 to 1 (CBD/THC) and 3 to 1 tinctures are really helping out people who are terminally ill to relieve their symptoms, such as toothache and eye and jaw pain.”
Pete Furtado, owner of Big Pete’s Treats, a marijuana cookie baker in Santa Cruz, California, brought toffee, ginger, chocolate chop, and gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, take-and-bake, and mini cookies to the Cup.
“We’ve been doing this six years. It started when I went to Oaksterdam University. I had a girlfriend who was a baker and quit her job. She made all the recipes, for cookies that contain 20 milligrams of THC (infused) cannabutter. It is great being here and there’s been a really good turnout,” said Furtado.
Carey Grafmiller, director of sales for Waska, a collective that brews hemp milk in Dos Rios, California, said, “This is our first big show. There are a lot of people that have never seen or heard of our product. It’s really nice not to have to go through a budtender.”
Grafmiller said he and other patient-members prepared for the Cup by “bringing as much stock as they could humanly store” of chocolate, strawberry, mocha, vanilla, and peppermint hemp milk, which contains 15 milligrams of THC per shot.
A variety of organizations that came to the Cup came to explain their goals.
Shirawn Brady, a crop consultant for the collective Emerald Valley Growers Association of California, said, “What’s unique about our collective is we grow in soil and under sun. The soil is organic, the fertilizers are organic. Events like this that allow industry experts to get together and share ideas also provide information to patients and growers. People can then make educated, informed decisions about what’s best for them. (The Cup) supports the community because (marijuana) has been an underground industry.”
Kylie, an educator with EduCann who declined to give her last name, said EduCann is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting marijuana-related education and understanding how much the average person knows about marijuana. She added, “We’re doing a survey (at the Cup) to figure out what people know and create a platform for the general public to find cutting-edge research (about marijuana).”
Kylie said the reception to EduCann has been positive. “People are really excited to hear what we’re trying to do, make information (about marijuana) more digestible to the average person.”
Jude Thilman, owner of Dragonfly Wellness Center in Fort Bragg, California, a collective and holistic wellness center, said she and others from Dragonfly came to explain why they are interested in keeping marijuana medicine local.
“Our mantra is seed for patient outcome. (We’re promoting) medicine that’s sustainable, non-GMO, potent, and powerful,” said Thilman.
Thilman, who also served as a judge for the Cup’s flower CBD category, said the producers who entered that competition need to work on improving the THC to CBD ratio for CBD products.
“I know that CBDs aren’t psychoactive. These products were getting me higher than a kite. I can’t recommend them to a 78-year-old patient. Our industry has to professionalize and quit doing this laid back, “let’s all get high” kind of thing,” said Thilman.
Kelly, an attendee from Santa Rosa who declined to give her last name, said although the Emerald Cup can be improved upon, she saw the event as a relaxing and fun experience. Kelly said she plans on attending again to educate herself further and share her knowledge with other attendees.
“Many (vendors) are mom and pop operations that put their heart, soul, and love into what they do. It’s an experience that people can really connect with. Everyone’s excited to be in the same place to be a part of the culture. (Here) it’s OK. It’s acceptance central,” said Kelly.