Emerald Eats: Judging an Edibles Competition

Table Full of Samples at the Emerald Cup

The Cherry Bomb chocolate delivered to my desk contained 1.8 grams of organic canna-coconut oil. I took a nice, healthy bite. It was 1 p.m. in the afternoon on a Friday at the office — things were about to get a lot more blazed.

When I was selected as an edibles judge for the 2014 Emerald Cup, I wasn’t quite sure whether I was living the dream or would just be living in a dreamlike state for a week. Overindulging on cannabis-infused treats can be scary and many people that have tried them have had a moment when they got too high for comfort. With just a week before ballots were due for the cup, I had no time for hesitation. I accepted my fate as fortune and popped the chocolate from Nor Cal Confections into my mouth.

The Emerald Cup is an all-outdoor, organic gathering in Northern California. What began as a private celebration of the fall harvest between growers in California’s famed Emerald Triangle has transformed into a full-fledged extravaganza of California kind bud. The 2014 event featured nearly 700 flower entries and almost 100 edible entries ranging from standard medicated items such as chocolates and sweets to savory selections including a spicy potato leek soup. As a first-time judge, I wasn’t sure about the process. Would I really survive sampling nearly 100 edibles over the course of a week? Would I even be able to function?

Instructions about the process came by way of an email.

“If you have never been a judge in a cannabis cup before, you might find it a little difficult to discipline yourself to dedicate appropriate time and attention to the subtle nuances each of these entries have to offer,” the message began.

“Try to analyze them on as many levels as you can, i.e. consistency, freshness, flavor, onset, etc. In order to do so, you must dedicate time each day and wait an average of five hours between each entry. Prepare yourself prior to each sample. Find a nice cozy spot where you won’t be interrupted. Drink some hot tea and blow your nose to insure your sinuses are clear. Not all edibles are mind blowing, so don’t feel intimidated.”

On a phone call with the competition’s organizer, I learned that I wouldn’t be sampling the entire range of edible offerings, but a selection based upon the team to which I was assigned. I was given report sheets to fill out and the edibles came by way of a courier, a young Mid-West transplant, who arrived at the Cannabis Now headquarters the next day with the first delivery. With great excitement the bag was opened, revealing an idea of the week to come. Inside was an array of marijuana-infused food items — ice cream, cookies, caramels — but the Cherry Bomb just seemed a fitting beginning, so I started my first report.

The Cherry Bomb from Nor Cal confections rated low on packaging impressions, as the plastic case it came contained in didn’t indicate the milligrams of THC present or the dosing suggestion. Sure, I had an idea of how much weed was in it, but without dosage broken down into milligrams of THC, I was unsure of exactly how high I might get. The chocolate turned it around, however, with its all-organic line-up of ingredients as well as the added benefit of an expiration date to ensure freshness. The cherry cordial flavor perfectly masked the “weedy” chlorophyll/plant flavor.

I got blazed, entering a euphoric state that didn’t end until the cup itself. In order to eat so many edibles, I cut back on drinking alcohol and smoking. Each evening I would get my highest and each morning I awoke feeling great. The air smelled fresher, my muscles were less tight, the world was expanding. Edibles were optimistic and inspirational as I took on new hobbies, scrawling notes on my Emerald Cup reports about gardening in the sun-dappled shade of a camellia tree in my Oakland backyard. My body was humming in goodness from all the cannabinoids and I wasn’t afraid anymore, figuring the worst that could happen was vomiting — an all-to-common side effect for many of America’s booze drinkers.

The reports used as an edibles judge featured a numbered scale divided into three main sections with questions regarding the edible’s appearance, how the edible tasted and the item’s potency and duration, with the last section of questions answered after the effects of the edible have worn away.

One of this year’s winning treats, a vegan, organic blueberry bite from Lifted Edibles, showcased a push towards mindful, health-conscious eating. The item was filled with anti-oxidants and made with blueberries, cashews, papaya, cranberries and vanilla dusted with hazelnut. These treats were very strong – resulting in a giggle extravaganza at the offices of the magazine and a general hopefulness towards life and the upcoming future for the whole of the cannabis plant.

The 2015 Emerald Cup is set for Dec. 12 and 13. Purchase tickets to the event here.

Originally published in issue 14 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE.

Ellen Holland started working at Cannabis Now Magazine on April 21st because she was busy on 420. Holland is the senior editor at Cannabis Now and has also been featured on AlterNet and Reset.me. She served as the chief editor of the Big Book of Buds Greatest Hits and is currently working with the legendary guru of ganja, Ed Rosenthal, on his next release. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @hollandbuds

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