The Emerald Cup competition is the heart and soul of the Cup. All I ever wanted from the beginning was to be able to have a friendly competition and celebration of the fall harvest. We go to great lengths to ensure a fair, integrity based competition. Trying to get all entries logged in and to the judges and tested for full quality assurance (QA) in a timely fashion has been a challenge for us, as the competition has grown in size and scope. This year we were forced to move up the deadline to ensure our judges have enough time to adequately sample all the entries. With so many additional categories being added over the years, and with quality assurance testing by SC Labs now such an integral and ongoing part of the competition, the challenges have become more difficult.

This years competition about ran us over. We encountered the perfect storm. First, the deadline for entering the competition was inadvertently extended to the twenty-eighth of November at all the drop off locations, instead of just at Area 101 and SC Labs. That meant we had to pick up entries late on the 28th fully across the state. And, we had almost eight hundred entries come in those last couple of days. From there, we had to bring all the entries back to Area101, log them in, and then deliver them to SC Labs. By the time all this was done the first week of December had passed. It became an impossible task for SC Labs to test everything by the weekend of the event. We focused on the flowers and were able to verify that the judges top 40 flowers all had passed pesticide testing the Thursday before the cup. Many of the concentrates weren’t able to get fully tested prior to the competition. We had no idea we would end up with over eleven hundred entries at this years’ competition (with over eight hundred the final two days.) We brought in extra judges to cover for the immense amount of entries. I’m proud of the job all of them did. They were sensational!  We decided to go forward with announcing the winners although we didn’t have final quality assurance (QA) testing results for many of the concentrate entries.

Next year, we will stand firm on the final entry date being the day before Thanksgiving, with the concentrate deadline a week before.

Overall, the percentages of disqualifications from detected pesticides across all categories, as compared to last year is overall lower (for the flower / infused products categories), even with SC Labs pesticide testing becoming ~1000x more sensitive in detection with new instrumentation. Five-percent of the flowers were disqualified for detected pesticides and twenty-five percent for concentrates (higher on average from last year due to more sensitive testing.) The most concerning category at the 2016 Emerald Cup was the Co2 / cartridge category. Thirty-four out of thirty-nine cartridges have been disqualified (post-Cup) from either being identified as a distillate (CO2 cartridge category) and/or had positive detections for one or multiple banned or questionable pesticides. Although distillation has a place in the concentrate / cartridge market, many distillate products are often produced from many and/or varied batches of questionable-quality material, and is often made from cleaning up bulk solvent-extracted batches of concentrate. Although many distillate cartridges that were entered in the Emerald Cup did pass full QA testing, we made a call this year to keep the higher-tech extraction types limited to Co2 only, as it is much more difficult to determine the quality/source of where a distillate might have come from (not to mention pesticide concentrations.) Due to the organic nature and Ethos of the Emerald Cup, I (Tim) have personally battled and prevented other more volatile solvent categories (ie BHO) from historically being part of the competition, similar to keeping distillates out this year, but now more than ever, realize that there are many ways to create an artisan product with the highest grade of extracts in demand, albeit that it ALL starts with a clean plant/source material.  Quality in = Quality out. (you get what you give)  With the rates of how common toxic pesticide residues are caked throughout some of the most sophisticated/closed-loop C02, BHO, distillation types of extraction equipment, and how common those residues carry over and contaminate many further subsequent batches of raw material (even if it is organic,) reinforces the notion that any process has the potential to create the highest quality of Cannabis extract, or the lowest, all starting with the quality of the source material, which include the ethics of farmers and farming practices.

In the C02 cartridge category, The Highest Grade (THG) truly had the highest grade in quality and terpene content and took 1st and 2nd.  AYA moved up from fifth to third.  Bubba Kush from Lady Lab LLC (4th) and Pineapple Tsunami from Lost Coast Botanicals have moved up to fourth and fifth place.

The number one and two in the Dry Sieve category have also been disqualified, leaving Xenu from Cult Classic Seeds/ Pure Headies as 1st place in the Dry Sieve category.

Lastly, the winner of the CBD extract category was a distillate that has since been disqualified (for being a distillate,) and the Lemon Remedy from Bubbleman/ Blue River has taken its place as the true winner of the award.  This entry was originally mixed up and part of the larger concentrate competition and after further review and analysis, it was clearly exemplary and deserving of the overall win in both cleanliness and overall terpene expression and preservation.

These changes have been posted at winners page.

The Emerald Cup is deeply rooted in organic awareness, education, and community. We have always sought to encourage and inspire our family, neighbors and community to push beyond our own individual boundaries in how we treat our bodies and cultivate this plant, “as above so below.” We are stewards of this plant, and are collectively moving into alignment with the highest integrity of Cannabis as a plant medicine and its true purpose on Earth- and it is exciting!  We seek to keep radiate this energy and message throughout the Emerald Cup and to each of you. We will continue to have an impact on raising awareness around many controversial and vulnerable issues that many canna-businesses face in the lead up to both medical and recreational regulations, come 2018.

I sincerely apologize for any pain and suffering we’re responsible for from the impact of any of the disqualifications that have taken place. I truly understand the importance and significance of winning or placing, not only with our competition, but all the various competitions across the state and country. Our purpose is to expose vulnerabilities, to hopefully begin a path toward solutions for your company to make it in a coming regulated market.

I will be deeply involved with the needed changes to the contest, working to ensure that quality assurance testing and terpene/ cannabinoid results become more of a part of the judging criteria, and will ensure that this year’s’ competition will be free of any of the previous challenges and inconsistencies.

Thank you for your patience.

Tim Blake