On Dec. 14, Tommy Chong was awarded the honorary Willie Nelson Award for his lifetime of achievements in the cannabis industry at the 2019 Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa, California. It’s the second time Chong has received the award.
“People ask me if you ever thought this day would come. I never thought about it because I never thought that far ahead,” Chong said during his speech on the fairgrounds stage. Chong is a cancer survivor as well as a victim of the “War on Drugs” after facing time for selling glass pipes typically used to smoke cannabis. The award was created to honor people who have helped to normalize cannabis as a mainstream commodity.
The Emerald Cup formed about 16 years ago as a way to honor the best examples of cannabis from the Emerald Triangle—which is usually considered to encompass Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity Counties. The Press-Democrat reports that festival originally served as a post-harvest celebration, and grew to become a complete cannabis tournament. Reportedly during the earliest Emerald Cup events, cultivators had to wear bandanas over their faces to protect their identities.
This year, over 600 entries of edibles, flower, concentrates and beverages were submitted for consideration for awards. “The Emerald Cup is rich with culture, and the awards matter,” longtime cultivator Shivawn Brady said. “When you win this contest, it immediately creates your brand.”
According to estimates, about 30,000 people attended the 2019 Emerald Cup. Reggae legend Steel Pulse performed, as well as the hip-hop group Flatbush ZOMBiES. About ten or so other musical acts performed as well. Ridgeline Farms’ flower entry, called Ridgeline Runtz, won an award for sun-grown cannabis for the second consecutive year.
The Emerald Cup represents the era of cannabis cultivation that was dominated by smaller growers and consisted of mostly organic sun-grown cannabis. A full list of winners will be posted shortly on the event’s official website.