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By Amanda Ferron


The Craneway Pavillion in Richmond, CA was packed last Saturday evening, full of the “who’s who” of the California Cannabis Industry. Growers, Extractors, Bakers, Reporters, and Connoisseurs, all gathered under one roof to celebrate the 19th Annual Emerald Cup Awards. I recently connected with Emerald Cup Founder Tim Blake on LinkedIn, and was beyond excited to receive an invitation to what some call “The Academy Awards of Cannabis”.

Side Note: I also received my very first Media Pass for this event, which made it a little bit more exciting for me. I’ve been a Cannabis consumer for 20 years, worked in the industry for about 8 years, and this little Cannabis Blog is like my baby. Being approved for a Media Pass with For:20 Minutes felt like a confirmation of sorts. I love writing, I love Cannabis, and being able to combine the two in an official way is beyond rewarding for me. I’ll forever be grateful to The Emerald Cup for giving me my first Media Pass. 

The Emerald Cup has a 19 year history of celebrating both the Cannabis plant and the ever important Farmer. Year after year, California Cannabis Farmers from all over the state would submit their best buds in the hopes of taking home 1st place. A group of knowledgeable and experienced judges do a blind tasting and rating of each product submitted, and pick their favorites based on a myriad of different factors. 

In previous years, they held one large annual event, where consumers and industry professionals alike could congregate and celebrate these amazing farmers and products. The event always has a “farmers market” feel, where you can take advantage of awesome deals by buying direct from the farmer or manufacturer, and consume Cannabis openly as a community. 

In 2021 the Emerald Cup team separated their celebration into 2 different events. The first being The Emerald Cup Harvest Ball, which takes place in December on the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, and is open to the public. This event carries on the traditional Emerald Cup feel, boasting multiple brands in attendance with products for sale, lots of dope musical performances, and some amazing speakers bringing us all together to celebrate Cannabis. 

The second is The Emerald Cup Awards, which takes place in May, and is invitation only. This is a red-carpet event, where nothing is for sale, and it is all about the awards. Many people dress to the nines, choosing to dawn diamonds and furs, while others come in their everyday clothes. All attire is welcome. The only thing that matters: Your passion about the Cannabis plant.

I was able to meet a couple of industry OG’s that I truly admire, including Swami, infamous Cannabis cultivator, Founder of the Swami Select, and just all around amazing individual. I fan-girled a little bit, I’m not even going to lie. I’m a big fan of his Cannabis flower, and I love watching videos of him and his wife on instagram. They have such positive energy, you can feel it through your screen. Meeting him in person did not disappoint. Greeting us with his signature big smile, he was kind, welcoming, and chatted with my Boss, Aubrey, and me for a good little while about the struggles farmers face when it comes to inventory management and Cannabis payment processing (Aubrey‘s specialty). 

The entire Emerald Cup team is absolutely amazing, but my favorite duo of the evening would have to be Father and Daughter Tim and Taylor Blake. My Dad is one of my best friends, so watching Tim and Taylor co-host these awards, and seeing the connection that they share, really touched my heart. Plus, the obvious love that they exude for the Cannabis plant and community really is next level. I mean, look at what they have created and cultivated over the years! I look forward to The Emerald Cup every year, and I considered myself lucky to be included in a night filled with such amazing people.


The Emerald Cup has, of course, always been known for its love of Cannabis in general, whether that is Cannabis flowers, extracts, edibles, etc… But Sungrown Flower has always been one of the main focuses of the Emerald Cup, and something it really highlights and  celebrates. Growing Cannabis has evolved so much over the years. Largely in part because growing Cannabis was illegal, so people were forced to grow in closets and back bedrooms. Light dep, Mixed Light, Hydro, Greenhouse… The cultivation options available to the community now seem endless. 

But to me, there is something special about Sungrown Cannabis.

Sungrown Cannabis is where it all started. It brings us back to our Cannabis roots… Like a sticky, terpene filled hug.

The winners of this years 1st Place Sungrown: Rebel Growns Double OG Chem #15!

Rebel Grown is a group of farmers with deep roots in the Emerald Triangle. Self described “Rebels of the past with a lifelong dedication to our craft.” Rebel Grown has been entering the Emerald Cup Awards since 2011. They’ve gotten multiple awards over the years, and this year was their first time taking home 1st place! Proof that passion for the plant, hard work, and dedication truly do pay off. 

Other 1st place winners include: 

  • Indoor Flower: Fig Farms – Blue Face
  • Best in Show: Fig Farms – Blue Face
  • Mixed Light Flower: Ridgeline Farms – LANTZ
  • Sungrown Greenhouse Flower: Chameleon Craft – Bubble Bath
  • Alternative Cannabinoid Flower: Pure Beauty – Terry T x Gelato #33
  • Personal Use Flower: Brandy Schneider – Mountain Cultured Terp Blendz 241

Women were big winners this year, with a couple of Women owned/operated brands being awarded multiple 1st Place trophies. I got a little emotional watching Space Gem Owner/Founder Wendy Baker choke up on stage over her multiple wins. “I started doing this in my kitchen…” She exclaimed with tears in her eyes. Also, watching the Proof team, full of powerful women, march proudly up to the Emerald Cup stage over and over again was something special to behold. Their energy was palpable as they made their way down the red carpet. The two companies brought home multiple awards each:

  • Best Edible Gummies: Space Gem – Sour Space Drops
  • Best Alternative Cannabinoid Edible: Space Gem – Mind Expanding Belt – Sleepy Fig
  • Best Tincture: Proof -Brazilian Drops
  • Best Tincture Wellness Product: Proof – CBG Elixer Capsules
  • Best Alternative Cannabinoid Tincture: Proof – CBG Elixer Drops

You can find a full list of winners here.

This years Willie Nelson Award went to none other than the legendary Mila Jansen. This honor is awarded to people who have spent their life being a Cannabis advocate. It’s the Emerald Cups “Lifetime Achievement Award”. Mila Jansen began growing her own Cannabis and making her own hash in 1988, after observing OG hash masters do it in places like Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan. In 1994, she created The Pollinator, which led to her being dubbed “The Hash Queen”. She would go on to create many other innovative hash making products, and continues to be one of Cannabis’ greatest advocates. 

“One look at the prevalence of solventless concentrates in the cannabis market today – not only here in California and at the Emerald Cup but around the world – reveals the incredibly positive impact that Mila Jansen has had on the ways that people consume and enjoy cannabis,”  – Tim Blake, founder and co-producer of the Emerald Cup.


As the Awards Ceremony wrapped up and the after party began, we made our way down the dock to where the yacht The Empress was docked. This was the location of the VIP section, hosted by none other than my family, Guild Extracts

Having worked for Guild Extracts for many years in the beginning of my Cannabis career, I have been on this yacht countless times. It almost feels like coming home when I step aboard. Especially when the first faces I see are those of my dear friends, Guild Extracts Founder/CSO Brad Robertson, CEO Claudio Miranda, Board Member Ashley Johnson, and Budist CEO Jocelyn Sheltraw. These four people have a very special place in my heart, so spending the evening with them is always something I really look forward to.

Spending an evening on The Empress always means great music, amazing people with matching energy, and LOTS of Cannabis. This years Guild Extracts dab bar included a beautiful ice sculpture featuring the royal blue and gold Guild “G”, cooling your dabs as you inhaled. I took about 5 dabs of some yummy Guild Extracts, and they were all chilly and delicious. The men from Elite Eighth were there passing out some beautiful buds, along with little rolling trays and grinders. And my girl Erika with Pabst was also there, handing out their super yummy St. Ides 100mg Teas. She handed me a can of their new Mango flavor as I danced my way up to her on the second level of The Empress. (That new Mango Tea is CRAZY delicious by the way, so grab one if you see it the next time you’re at a dispensary!)

Aubrey and I spent a good amount of time hanging out with Leaf Magazine Co-Owner/CCO Mike Ricker, who is always such a pleasure to be around. We spoke a bit about the upcoming Leaf Bowl in Oregon, his latest Leaf Life Podcast episode, and he also gave me some great writing tips. Mike is someone I really look up to as a professional, so I truly appreciate his advice, and his friendship. 

Claudio introduced us to ½ of the popular Beard Bros duo, Bill Levers, who had such a welcoming presence. He and I are also connected on LinkedIn, which is kind of a Cannabis-professionals hub of sorts… He actually recognized me, which blew my mind if I’m being honest. He gave me a big hug as he said “Oh yea! I know you from LinkedIn!” A very cool moment for me as a Cannabis professional and a BIG fan of The Beard Bros.

I could probably write 5 more pages about the incredible evening that Aubrey and I got to share. But I’ll end with this: The Emerald Cup is more than just an awards show. It’s more than an event where people get to go and smoke their faces off. The Emerald Cup is a beacon in the Cannabis community. A place where the people who were growing and consuming this amazing plant long before legalization, and have now built this industry on the sweat of their backs, can be honored and celebrated.

I doubt Tim Blake knew how important this event would become when he started a friendly competition between OG Emerald Triangle growers so many years ago… The Emerald Cup has grown into something very, very special to the entire Cannabis community.