Article by Max Savage Levenson, Green State
Even as cannabis farmers and businesses reel from hundreds of millions of dollars in estimated wildfire losses, the California cannabis industry is still gearing up for one of its most jubilant annual traditions.
The Emerald Cup, launched in 2003, returns to the Sonoma County fairgrounds December 9-10 for a celebration that is part competition, part tradeshow and part music festival. This year, a portion of the proceeds will be going to the farmers and businesses hit hardest by the fires.
According to county surveys, anywhere from 3,000 to 9,000 cannabis gardens in Sonoma County may have been destroyed or damaged by the fires. Still, organizers anticipate that the 2017 cup will be their largest yet, with 10,000 revelers expected.
Over 500 farms, manufacturers and advocacy organizations will line the Hall of Flowers, the Good Seed Hall, Demo Row and more with decked-out booths. (More than 2,000 applied.) On the main stage, festival-goers will be treated to its highest caliber lineup of musicians ever: that includes the legendary hip-hop crew the Roots, arena rockers Portugal. The Man and the old-school Oakland MCs Hieroglyphics. (The lineup, however, sorely lacks female representation ).
Even if attendees don’t consume cannabis, they will be able to enjoy the party, and the music. Saturday will be headlined by the Roots, who have released nearly a dozen albums in three decades and currently spend their time off-tour as the house band for The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. Although drummer and bandleader Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson has made it clear that he does not consume cannabis himself, he is an outspoken advocate for legalization nonetheless.
Sunday will feature a performance from the rock group Portugal. The Man. In conjunction with the release of their breakthrough 2017 hit “Feel It Still,” the band announced their own strain of cannabis of the same name, a collaboration with Oregon’s HiFi Farms. “‘Feel It Still’ is a summer song,” keyboardist Kyle O’Quin told the cannabis outlet Leafly earlier this year.
“The strain can’t weigh you down like a heavy indica high. It’s got to be a light, uplifting, fun, outdoor vibey, summer, … ‘fun in the sun’ weed.”
As The Emerald Cup crowds have grown over the years, so has the number of awards given out. This year, over 900 farmers and makers have entered flowers and products into a wide range of categories including best flower, best edible and best concentrated hash oil; the latter of which has organizer Tim Blake particularly excited.