Your guide to this year's Emerald Cup

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It’s that magical time of year when The Emerald Cup is upon us again, with attendance predicted to be even higher than last year’s 20,000. On Saturday and Sunday, December 15–16, the Sonoma County Fairgrounds will be rife with musicians, speakers, and vendors (oh, my!) packing out the weekend with food, libations, cannabis, and the competition everyone talks about all year: the judging of arguably the country’s best outdoor cannabis, writes Adrienne Airhart. Some new additions will have you checking your event schedule to make sure you don’t miss out.

The Emerald Cup is described by its creators as, “the largest, most respected, organic, outdoor, cannabis competition in the world.” Ever the leaders in sustainable farming, the people behind the Emerald Cup honor Northern California with the opportunity to showcase some of their best crops in the new age of adult use legalization. But...can you smoke it at the Cup?

That answer to that is yes. Yes, you can. You can buy cannabis at the Cup or even bring your own, within in the legal limits (1 ounce for adult use, more for medical patients).

2018 brought Prop 64 to life as the year California launched its adult use cannabis market, which prompted producers and retailers to get creative in their product offerings and ways of allowing you to enjoy those products at events.

“We’re  proud to announce  we were able to secure  permits from local and state  officials, allowing us to sell  cannabis to medical patients and adult  recreational users age 21 or older," said Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake. "You  can now purchase and consume cannabis legally at The Emerald Cup!”

With so many events the past few years having been shut down or raided due to strict regulations, this is a breath of fresh air for everyone working and attending the the Cup (and probably a relief for local law enforcement as well).

Where Can You Consume?

There will be consumption lounges galore for you to sink into some couch lock or pop in for a quick puff. You might even get lucky and see Willie Nelson in there, as he is an honored recipient of an award ceremony for his first appearance at a large-scale cannabis event, ever. He’s in good company with Jay & Silent Bob (Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes), who are hosting their podcast “Smodcast” inside the consumption area Saturday.

Also in attendance will be Steve D’Angelo, founder of Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world and president of Arcview Investor Group. He recently hopped on Harborside’s Instagram to tell the world why they should come to the Emerald Cup. “If you care about cannabis, if you like cannabis, if you love cannabis...you’ve gotta go!”

Things To Do And See

You’ll want to catch as many of the 140 speakers who will populate three stages over the weekend as you can. Tim Blake boasts that they’ve upped the ante with this year’s guests, “making sure that the very best teachers join us at this year’s Emerald Cup; to guide us, show us the ropes, and freely share the wealth of knowledge they’ve absorbed over the years.”

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One of these incredible teachers is Rick Doblin - founder of MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) - who is sure to set your brain on fire with the latest news on how psychedelics (including marijuana) are healing those suffering from PTSD and depression, as well as with the legal progress MAPS has made in securing FDA approval to study MDMA.

There will also be cooking demos, lectures on the state of medical marijuana, and information about everything from compliance to microdosing. If you’re an OG, a fun exhibit you should put in your phone as a reminder is “Three Dudes Talk Prohibition & the Good Ole Days” with Tom  Alexander, Je Lowenfels, and Doug Benson - comedian/host of Getting Doug With High podcast. Laughs will be plentiful.

Where to Dance

The Emerald Cup will feature four stages this year with performers ranging from Cut Chemist and Gogol Bordello (on Saturday) to Big Gigantic and Rising Appalachia (on Sunday). The Harvest Stage in particular will be presented by Civilized, the Emerald Cup's official media partner. There you can catch a few jokes from comedic duo Jay & Silent Bob, get your om's on with a Cannamaste 420 ceremony, or witness the Flow Kana Farm to Bong competition.

The Flowers

If you’re into cultivating, there will be a RAGE (Regenerative Agriculture Garden Exhibit) to teach Cup attendees the benefits of sustainable farming practices and techniques. Last year’s  award-winning farms, including Flower Daze, Briceland Forest Farm, and Lionpaw Organic, will be present at a Regenerative Cannabis Farm Showcase on Saturday so you can hear from the farmers first hand. Foliar Essence, a 100 percent organic and vegan fermented nutrients company, will also be at the Cup to assist with questions about growing. “We’re excited to be a part of this year’s Emerald Cup and connect with the craft cannabis growing community,” a spokesperson told Civilized.

Shopping

Vendors have come from near and far to set up their stalls at the Emerald Cup, offering the fruits of their labor at special event prices. Come early so you can take advantage of the many deals these brands are sure to be running, some of them on items that are handmade or previously unreleased. Whether you’re canna-curious or a longtime consumer, deals are deals and it’s an opportunity to see the latest innovations in technology and gear to bring home to your jealous friends.

True Terpenes is a vendor that's back again this year, after making a ton of great connections at the Cup in 2017. “This show is unlike any other,” said True Terpenes rep Teresa Lyons. “It allows you to sit down and build great rapport with consumers, experience the products of the best brands in cannabis, and catch a great concert afterward!” This year, the company is excited to introduce their famous "Smell Wall" installation to the Emerald Cup, which gives people a visual and aromatic clue to help identify terpenes. “That’s the first step to learning about them,” Lyons said. Pro tip from her: “Have fun, dress warm, and wear comfortable shoes!”

The Pieces

Glasswork is the backbone of the cannabis industry, and the time-honored tradition gets its heyday at the Emerald Cup with a lavish display of artists creating pieces to amaze. Some of these artists like Banjo and Darby Holm have even designed and blown the trophies given to the winners of the competition! They are truly one-of-a-kind works of art. If you’ve been saving for that one gorgeous coffee table bong, or a piece to give as a gift, this is the place to do it.

For The Foodie

After all the smoking, vaping, and edible-ing you’ll be doing, you’ll need to whet your beak and satiate yourself with some delicious food and wine. There will be even more options than last year, and everything you will eat will be organic. From pizza and burritos to Greek gyros and full vegan options, it’s like a farmer’s market where they did all the meal prep for you! Come hungry.

Good Karma

The Emerald Cup has always had a strong charitable component, and this year is no different. Freedom Grow is this year’s featured organization, with 100 percent of the proceeds (predicted at $30,000+) going directly to the prisoners of nonviolent, cannabis-related crimes. At the Karma Bank, attendees can make their very own “karma deposit” in support of cannabis convicts in the form of a written letter to a prisoner, signing a petition, or financially adopting a cannabis prisoner either through recurring monthly donations to their commissary. "[You can] become a penpal and deepen the relationship," said Ginger Dawn - Emerald Cup charities director. "This usually involves some financial support like buying them books on amazon. It's more intimate.”

Additionally, Cage Free Cannabis will have a booth in The Hall of Flowers with examples of expungement toolkits, says Dawn. These toolkits help people with cannabis offenses reduce their record convictions or erase them altogether.

A tip from Dawn on how to make the most of the Emerald Cup: “Layers and a commuter mug!” The weather in Sonoma is fickle, and you’ll want to keep hydrating in the most sustainable way. So bring your own cup!

Getting Home

A new addition to the Cup this year is the free shuttles! Enjoy the festivities to your heart’s content knowing that you have a free ride back to the self-pay parking lot. The shuttles run until 2am and 11pm on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, so there is no need to cut the fun short.

First-time attendee Alessandra K.S., from FourK Productions, a development and production company, is excited to cover the event; to witness the much-lauded infusion of music, glass blowing, art, comedy and culture that makes this cup unique; and to hear about the latest companies producing clean, quality product. “I'm super excited about Claire Lipton being there, I've never met a female glass artist!” she said. “[The Cup is] a beautiful, tasteful way to showcase cannabis.”

Check the schedule beforehand to set some alerts on your phone so you don’t miss the speakers you want to see, and be sure to take advantage of all the vendors’ gifts, the consumption lounge, the food and the exhibits. This is an experience you will never forget.

To learn how to attend this years The Emerald Cup Click HERE.

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