One judge thought this Emerald Cup entry looked especially beautiful.
One judge thought this Emerald Cup entry looked especially beautiful.

On December 12 and 13, The Emerald Cup will once again highlight the best organic outdoor cannabis California has to offer. Competing in the cup this year works a little differently than years prior, but these changes should be inspiring rather than discouraging.

Testing Clean | The Emerald Cup has always tested its entries, and 2015 will mark the first year that a strain can be disqualified by test results before it’s even rolled up. “For the safety of our judges, lab tests will be completed before any medicine is actually judged – and any entry that fails microbiological, pesticide, or residual solvent testing will be disqualified prior to judging,” according to the letter from Tim Blake to the community on the event’s official website.

Get all the info on the Emerald Cup contests here. Deadline to enter is Nov. 23 but also varies by drop-off location.

A flood of flowers and value-added products has traditionally come in at the last minute, making it difficult (though still possible, as Kevin Jodrey has pointed out to me) for judges to sort through and sample them all. We initially reported the total as 600-700 flower entries, but the 2014 competition drew about 900 entries when all were counted.

New Entry Fee | This year also marks the first time there has been an entry fee. The $250 fee covers the cost of lab testing, the VIP Weekend pass to the event, and running the competition (no easy task as we saw in The Ganjier’s 2014 judging coverage).

Impact of the New Requirements

The potential for disqualification by testing, the inability to submit late entries due to testing times, and requiring an entry fee means there will likely be fewer entries overall (though likely still several hundred). I would argue, however, these new conditions for entering will result in a pool that better represents the cream of the crop. The Emerald Cup has remained the best organic outdoor competition for 12 years because it can adapt — these new rules prove that. 

As we learn more about how cannabinoids and terpenes interplay and the medical benefits the plant provides, testing for safe consumption is becoming paramount. Ever buy a box of strawberries only to take them home and find the fat one in the center is a moldy mess? No one likes that. So, why would someone consider buying cannabis products with mold?

Look at it as medicine or as an adult-use substance: either way, cleanliness remains important.

Just because a consumer/patient may not be able to visually spot moldy flowers doesn’t mean producers aren’t responsible for providing clean cannabis. In value-added products like cannabis-infused chocolate or bubble hash, there is no visual way to identify such contaminants (much less pesticides or fungicides), so testing is even more important.

A few other changes and expansions are coming, too: a much larger 215 area, new competition categories for solventless concentrates (icewater hash, rosin, and dry sieve), new competition categories for CBD flower entries (split by CBD:THC ratio) and terpene testing and awards.

Coverage of the 2015 Emerald Cup Flower Judging

The Ganjier will be at the first flower judging session in two weeks to provide live coverage as the pool of judges gets their first good look at the 2015 entries. If you’d like to see how judging was handled in 2014, check out the our formerly live coverage of last year’s judging.


Featured photo from The Ganjier’s 2014 coverage of The Emerald Cup’s flower judging.

the 12th annual Emerald Cup
the 12th annual Emerald Cup


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