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The History of the Emerald Cup

The Emerald Cup was founded in 2004 from a fledgling few weed growers who gathered informally at Area 101 in Laytonville to share their grow tips and buds on the down low without public knowledge, as prohibited people associated with the illegal plant. 

Prop 215, the Compassionate Use Act of 1996 legalized medical marijuana at the ballot by 56%, mainly due to a triumvirate of sponsors -- Dennis Peron, Brownie Mary and Dr. Tod Mikuriya -- who carried it all the way as the community’s answer to the AIDS epidemic. The Mendocino County patient base initiated close relations with Sheriff Tony Craver and DA Norm Vroman based on their promise to support 215 implementation with a local program that would protect patients who registered their garden with the Sheriff’s office, since the Mendo BOS wanted no part of it. When I asked Tony if we should outreach to supes to join the process, he discouraged it saying, ‘they don’t care, that’s why my office has to do it’. His comment was prescient, considering the BOS failure to build a meaningful regulatory program with any local support to this day. 

Tony lived on the Coast and ran the Sheriff’s office in Ft Bragg where he interacted on a regular basis with the two co-founders, Maurice Meikel, Vietnam veteran from Jamaica and myself, visiting our closet size gardens at home, satisfied we were small, legitimate and truthful. 

We shifted from the Medical Marijuana Patients Union centered on the coast, 2000-2006, to Area 101 in Laytonville when Tim Blake agreed to publicly sponsor the Sheriff-DA debates in 2006 to replace Sheriff Tony Craver who retired & DA Norm Vroman who died of a heart attack. I’d asked Tim if he would take over by sponsoring the debates since he and I had different perspectives for the cannabis community’s future. 

The Patients Union formed in 2000 based on endorsing policies, not politicians. thus allowing us to refrain from endorsing either Allman or Broin for Sheriff, while on the other hand, Tim Blake, the Laytonville community and beyond, got behind Tom Allman for Sheriff and his unique 99-plant zip-tie program with ‘guaranteed’ law enforcement protection at approximately $8000 per grow. I was adamant this would never work, the Feds would stop it, and besides, it only protected an elite few who could afford the steep tariff, setting them a class apart from the most vulnerable, such as Covelo growers. 

Tim felt equally strongly that the inland community needed this protection by flowing with the zip tie program since it would tend to protect the whole community especially those who put up the money. I felt we should avoid getting engaged in an experimental illusion that would not last even if this short cut worked for awhile.

The first year, it was immediately busted by the Feds, Joy Greenfield was the first whose entire garden was confiscated. She quickly reupped with another $8000 for her 99 plants and made it through the first year without another bust. So she and 90 or so others gave it another go the 2d year at $8000 each, all going to law enforcement. Halfway into the season, the Feds raided the Mendo zip tie farmers again the second year. The County didn’t challenge seizure of doctor-patient medical records as Oregon had done and won. The Court ordered redaction of medical records, all but about 10, giving the Feds those medical records unredacted, without a fight on confidentiality. And that was the end of that story.

The Emerald Cup was happening every year after harvest at Area 101 in pouring rain, uncomfortable for vendors standing in rainwater, while being a spiritual uplift for several hundred community people who found warmth and camaraderie inside. 500 enthusiasts advocates farmers crowding the stage, spinning a ribbon of protection if need be. 

There was the example of the teenage wonder who played multiple grateful dead songs to a grateful audience, enraptured by a serious teen musician who was practicing, not performing, never once smiling as he shared his sound, one song after another. This is a slice from rural Mendo, unavailable at the citified Santa Rosa Fairgrounds and shows why country folks yearn for their return to their roots

Several years of weather hardships finally forced a decision to try the Mateel Community Center in Redway outside Garberville for dryer warmer conditions. That lasted a year with similar hardships which drove Tim Blake & Co to search Mendocino for a spacious spot which didn’t exist and neither did a welcoming by the powers that be.

So they went onward through the fog to Santa Rosa where they found Fairground space and a welcome mat. The Emerald Cup remains in an authentic relationship with Sonoma County since 2013 with mutual respect and strict rules at mass gatherings that work for all concerned.

It is now 2021, The Emerald Cup occurred during a Pandemic which is a remarkable feat in and of itself with the Prop 215 patient base, borderline legal people due to their association with a prohibited plant, sharing joints in the Area 101 medical tent, designed by Phoebe, where ‘tent toking’ is an exception not allowed in the larger arena, allowed under Prop 215 rights to obtain, use, and possess marijuana for ‘medical purposes’. 

Vaccination for entry is required, enforced by strict rules, including written proof. A vaxxed co-worker neglected to bring paperwork proof to get in and was forced to wait an hour and a half in a vax line nearby to get proof the Fairgrounds would accept. This assumption was a factor in behavior in the Area 101 tent around the issue of sharing joints. A generous plant like Cannabis inspires sharing, which is embedded in cannabis culture worldwide in the song, "Pass the kochi from the left hand side", reflecting long held local indigenous ways such as the carriers of the pipe. 

All these thoughts are rippling to the surface as the culture reasserts itself and people have begun to share joints once again. I asked around a bit, here’s one person’s take: "A friend of mine shared a joint with someone who was covid+. He didn’t get the virus, since it is passed through droplets in the air, not saliva." This simple assessment may be close to what is generally believed based on experience among legacy farmers, artists, intellectuals, activists, engaged people. The culture through joint sharing is making a resounding comeback while also evolving into carriers of the pipe, an indigenous practice.

* * *

This is a snail’s eye view from my special chair in the Area 101 tent. I didn’t venture out for health reasons. I hear panels were generally on a high thought provoking level--Julie Chiariello, Skunk Editor, on Sexual Healing and Del Potter on the Psychedelic Revolution, scientific views on shrooms and the ease of breakdown into microdoses, mild and beneficial like cannabis, available to the advanced and informed. Now that the Psychedelic Revolution has reached the ballot with wins in Oakland and Oregon, microdosing will begin. There’s no stopping a resurgence of respect for psychoactive plants in the natural world and a simultaneous move to dismantle the War on Drugs.

The music was infuriatingly loud without let up, so I didn’t grant requests for interviews, not with that incessant thumping noise in the background.

My purpose was to help further the rise of the Cannabis Trail. I was there to receive a special plaque honoring my life and cannabis work from Brian Applegarth. He is creating a weed encyclopedia, a cannabis pictureopedia in the form of landmark plaques of who we are...were...and will be throughout history, as we  travel along a  trail of rising expectations where the learning takes place.

We were handicapped by deafening pounding sound, called music, reducing us to lip-reading, the biggest mistake of the event, short circuiting hundreds of hours worth of educational conversations, ready to be shared. This error shows a disproportionate recreational influence, even an alcoholic influence. I was frazzled the night of the Cannabis Trail honoring session because I couldn’t get away from the noise before my speech and finally ended up seeking out a stall in the women’s bathroom. This must change. It’s antithetical to the calming influence of the cannabis plant. A quiet Meditation Space, a hammock without piped in music, and a separate tent at the next Emerald Cup.


  1. Douglas Coulter January 2, 2022

    Woodstock was a disaster due to poor organization yet left a deep impact on society. Pot and acid helped.
    Altamont was well organized yet fueled by alcohol.
    Patterns repeated as we attempt to recreate the past.

  2. Sick of lies. January 8, 2022

    Your last paragraph Pebbles it says it all. Totally about the money.. Millions upon millions are made just off of the packaging and plastic affiliated with cannabis alone . Where they blew it with legalization is that some products should have only been available medically to keep the medical movement alive. Most dispensaries now do not even keep track of medical cannabis patients because the same product is available to all across the board recreational or medical . That was not well thought out at all . A scattered few with deep care about true cannabis may attend the event . The dab, vape crew all the other things are just dragging it down but they spend $. OMG the proof of vaccinations is a joke, so many in that group buying fake vaccination cards. I know of at least 30 people that attended the event with fake vaccination cards that you can buy for $100. Several of them people that own businesses that were attending the event. That’s a problem.

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