2016 Emerald Cup Winners Polluted by Pesticides

A story of when winners turn out to be losers.

Many lit minds—especially those elevated thinkers impressed by sustainable outdoor farming and organic purity in cannabis consumables—rank Northern California’s Emerald Cup as the premier showcase for medical-marijuana brands.

Indeed, Sonoma County’s Emerald Cup states its reason for being as “advancing the concept of sustainable, outdoor farming.” Half product showcase, half stoner convention, half manufacturer competition, the Emerald Cup is one-and-a-half tons of good weed, good people, and good intentions stuffed into a one-ton festival of agricultural counterculture.

Historically, an Emerald Cup-winning concentrate, flower, or edible brand was awarded an aura of ethical superiority. Winning an Emerald Cup, in years gone by, was like being granted a sales and marketing advantage that the weed-slinging also-rans could only dream of as they gnashed their teeth and wept while ingesting copious amounts of their inferior, degraded product.

The Emerald Cup was the trophy wife of all cannabis competitions.

Then along came 2016, and the honeymoon is over. Almost one-quarter of 263 samples of cannabis concentrates submitted by would-be Emerald Cup winners throughout California for the 2016 competition were disqualified, after the fact. Pesticide contamination was the primary cause of these concentrates being denied Cup consideration, even after some had won their categories.

Our country has not endured such a blatant betrayal of the competitive spirit since seven Tour de France titles were stripped from Lance Armstrong for doping.

For instance, delayed disqualifications rescinded prizes awarded to the winner and first runner-up in the “dry sieve category” of cannabis concentrates.

Although none of the chief anchors from any of America's major news outlets will admit it, our country has not endured such a blatant betrayal of the competitive spirit since seven Tour de France titles were stripped from Lance Armstrong for doping.

Dabs were not the only chemical offenders. Slightly more than 5 percent of flower submissions—40 of 735 entries—were also laced with pesticides.

The Emerald Cup only began testing for bug-killing substances in the past year. Spokespersons had carefully not denied speculation that theirs is the first major marijuana competition to screen for pesticide residue. It’s unclear if testing would have been implemented had organizers known what would be found.

As reported by Santa Rosa Press Democrat Staff Writer Julie Johnson:

The issue wasn’t uncovered until after the Dec. 11-13 contest due to a late crush of entries plus internal miscommunication about deadlines, said Emerald Cup founder Tim Blake. Blake said he was troubled by the discovery and has apologized to contestants.
“We were dumbfounded that we’d see this (pesticide use) at that level,” Blake said. “We’re going to have to be very careful about that in the future.”

Sample testing for the Emerald Cup is done by Santa Cruz-based SC Labs, the event’s official lab since 2010. SC cofounder Alec Dixon explained that concentrates are more likely to come up pesticide positive than flower because all ingredients—including any contaminants—are amplified in concentrates.

Still, amplifying the plant’s THC potency is no excuse for amplifying its killer chemical profiles, according to some pot activists.

Again, from Santa Rosa Press Democrat Staff Writer Julie Johnson’s reporting:

“There is no reason to use pesticides not specified for food production when there are safe, responsible methods of controlling pests,” said Oakland-based horticulturist activist Ed Rosenthal, who has been a speaker at prior Emerald Cups.

If Rosenthal keeps calling 'em like he sees 'em, he may end up speaking less at Emerald Cups, or you may see him taking his views elsewhere.