On May 13, 2023, the 19th installment of the Emerald Cup Awards brought together the absolute best California has to offer. Held at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond, CA, the 45,000-square-foot venue was filled with some of the industry’s top players and the state’s best cannabis cultivators and manufacturers. The event was a welcome reprieve from the recent issues faced by California’s cannabis industry. There was a lot of love in the air: for the plant, for the community and for those tireless advocates.
Considered by some to be the “Academy Awards of Cannabis,” Tim Blake, the founder of the Emerald Cup, called the 2023 ceremony “the most inspiring yet.”
“The Craneway was the perfect venue for our Emerald Cup Awards ceremony,” Blake said. “Mother Nature blessed us with perfect weather and our community came out in force to celebrate the best of the best and to party the night away on the Bay.”
Official sponsors of the event included legacy brands Mendocino Grasslands and Guild Extracts (their luxury yacht served as the VIP area for the event). Guests on the yacht enjoyed infused beverages provided by Pabst Labs and St. Ides, flower by Elite Eighth and dabs aplenty.
The Emerald Cup Awards honor more than just California’s best products; they also honor some of the industry’s most influential figures. This year’s honorees included Mila Jansen, winner of the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award; Amber E. Senter, winner of the Visionary Award for Advocates and Entrepreneurs; Weldon Angelos, winner of the Social Justice Award honoring freedom fighters; Alex Aquino, winner of the Trailblazer Award and renowned breeder Soma was inducted into the Breeders Hall of Fame.
As one of the pioneers of the social equity movement in the Bay Area and with more than two decades of experience in just about every aspect of the cannabis industry, Amber E. Senter is the definition of a visionary. She’s one of the founding members of Supernova Women as well as founder and CEO of Makr House, a producer of infused cannabis goods and distribution service. Senter’s work with the city of Oakland to establish the first social equity program in the US opened doors for those adversely impacted by the War on Drugs to be a part of this industry, something most thought would never happen.
“I accept this award on behalf of my community,” Senter said. “My community has really done the impossible. Everybody in here is a visionary.”
Aquino has been making an impact on the community in the Bay Area since the late 1980s. In 2007, Aquino took over planning Hippie Hill’s 420 Celebration, which has turned into much more than just a sesh in the park. “There are so many people that do the heavy lifting being the scenes, especially in this industry,” Mario Sherbinski said as he presented Aquino with his Trailblazer Award. “Alex is just one of those people.” Aquino has been involved with the production of Bay Area hip-hop festivals that most SF natives have fond memories of, including Rock the Bells and Hiero Day.
“I want to talk about inspiration because there’s so many of you guys,” Aquino said, addressing the cultivators in the crowd. “You inspire me; you inspire the world. Northern California is the most influential market in this industry and it’s because of you guys.”
The Emerald Cup Awards is renowned for showcasing only the very best cannabis products and this year’s entries were no exception. “It was invigorating to see the better-than-ever quality of the entries, to have our community come together to celebrate our mutual survival,” Blake said.
Taking home first place in the Solventless Concentrate category was Whitethorn Rose Live Bubble Hash, a collab between Frenchy Cannoli’s former apprentice Cherry Blossom Belle of Heritage Hash Co and Huckleberry Hill Farms. Belle paid homage to her Sensi, finishing her acceptance speech with a poignant, “For Frenchy!”
Other winners included Wendy Baker taking home first place for Best Alternative Cannabinoid Edible with the CBN Sleepy Fig Mind Expanding Belt and first place for Best Edible Gummy with the Sour Space Drops, her first-ever Emerald Cup win.
Pure Beauty’s Terry T X Gelato won first place for Best Alternative Cannabinoid Flower as well as the choice for Breeder’s Cup in the same category. Fig Farm’s Blue Face took home first place for Best Indoor Flower, the Breeder’s Cup choice and Best In Show—the first indoor flower to claim this prize. Fig Farms was the big winner of the night with nine awards.
SC Labs helped produce a new series of awards highlighting the highest and most unique terpene profiles. Nevada City, CA equity cultivators Sanctuary Farms took home Highest Terpene Flower with Blunicorn, which totaled an impressive 4.87% terpenes.
“The most important thing about this is the plant and remembering how beautiful the plant is, and bringing it back to genetic, the land and the farmer,” Cherry Blossom Belle of Heritage Hash Co said. “Let’s not forget about the beauty of this plant.”
View the complete list of all the winners from the Emerald Cup Awards 2023.