Outdoor cannabis cultivators from all around the Emerald Triangle — the world capital of cannabis cultivation — flocked to the Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa this weekend to show off their bud, edibles, topicals, tinctures, vaporizable oils, dabs, and other pot products galore. For anyone who cares at all about the kind of cannabis they’re consuming, where it comes from, how it’s grown, and who’s getting rich from it, this is the event for you (and if you didn’t think about these issues before, the Cup proves why they’re important).
Welcoming to cannabis enthusiasts and novice consumers alike, the Emerald Cup offered not only first hand educational experience on today’s California cannabis market (you get to sample all the farmers’ weed), but also seminars on everything from policy to medicine making, musical acts from artists like Grammatik and Portugal the Man, and a stoner’s heaven worth of munchies (Indian food, vegan food, pizza, gyros, nachos, and a personal favorite, coconut matcha lattes). Oh, and did we mention the free samples?
So whether you plan on going to the Cup next year, or regret you missed it, here are some takeaways to keep in mind.
Get to know your farmer
Small-batch, mom-and-pop, outdoor cannabis cultivators are at risk. Legalization is an open door for well capitalized competition to come in and take over the market — the same market that longtime family cultivators have risked their freedom to build in California for over the last 20 years, navigating legal grey area and California’s 1996 medical marijuana law. Today, you should keep in mind how a farmer treats their trimmers and other employees, how they ward off pests and which organicides or pesticides they use, whether they’re environmentally conscious and use resources like water efficiently, and whether they are compliant with state law. Fostering the relationship between cultivator and consumer will be crucial going forward in crafting policy and the nature of the cannabis marketplace.
The same way you may want to shop only for organic food or locally from the farmer’s market, you want to be sure the weed you put in your body is free of toxic chemicals. Whether you’re smoking flower or vaping oil, combustion and extraction methods can cause the chemicals sprayed on cannabis to mutate and concentrate at higher levels. That could undermine the therapeutic value and potential of your cannabis medicine.
If you’re at the Cup, balance out with CBD
You’ll be offered more cannabis than you’ll know what to do with. It’s very easy to keep going for samples and realize an hour later you’re much higher than you intended to be. Not to worry. There’s no lack of CBD-only options, like 40-milligram CBD hot chocolate from Lulu’s Botanicals, or any number of CBD vaporizers, to balance out your THC high, or to replace with THC products if you’d rather start off slow.
Stay informed on policy
Did you know there will be a 100-milligram THC cap on all cannabis adult use edibles in California’s legal marketplace? You don’t need to be in the cannabis industry to stay up on policy. Educate yourself on the new regulations and keep tabs on parts you agree and disagree with. Often, there’s public comment period either at the state or local level, so you can make your voice heard.
Try new things
If you’re a flower, vape, or edible loyalist, but curious about the wealth of other products out there, here is your opportunity to sample them all, learn from their makers about what goes into them, how they’ll affect you, and compare products you like up against each other. Take breaks between sampling, make sure to balance out with CBD, and enjoy the high whilst dancing to music, noshing on munchies, or lounging in one of the festival’s chill zones.