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Sonoma County Gazette
The Emerald Cup

OpEd - Emerald Cup Excluding Local Marijuana Businesses

Dec 6, 2017


Legal and Economic backfire from the Emerald Cup for Local Marijuana Business

I write this as a concerned constituent of the marijuana community in Sonoma County. Having worked with several industry leaders and businesses, I am deeply concerned about the well-being of Sonoma County’s marijuana industry and understand the importance of protecting small-scale farmers. The medical-marijuana industry may soon lose its protection from federal recourse by December 8th if Congress has not approved a new budget including the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment. This amendment, added under Obama in 2014, shields medical marijuana from the DOJ using federal funds to prosecute industry businesses (

The Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it his personal agenda to attack marijuana, and failing to continue the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment in the budget would allow him the funding necessary to pursue marijuana “crimes” (  Currently federal law prohibits the transportation of marijuana products (flower, seeds, extracts, etc.) across state lines. Given the uncertainty of the industry’s safety, cross-state trafficking of marijuana goods would heighten local marijuana communities vulnerability to federal investigation.

The Emerald Cup ( acts as a mecca for medical marijuana connoisseurs, drawing interested people in from all over the state of California. As far as events go, the Emerald Cup is one of the few local opportunities that vendors in the North Bay have to interact with their customer base, network to grow business, and join in friendly cannabis quality competitions. The Cup also provides an economic boost to the local marijuana community. Vendors have the opportunity to expose their products to thousands of people, which benefits their business in sales and outreach.

Sadly, though, local growers and cannabis vendors of Sonoma County face a handicap for admission into the Cup. The event managers Hazel Bag-well and Tim Blake have collaborated with, an online seed selling business that ships marijuana seeds nationally, allowing the business to “sponsor” the Seed Hall at the Emerald Cup (on the event map the Seed Hall says “presented”). In effect, has monopolized the Seed Hall, disallowing any vendors not associated from a booth in the Hall, and they held 20 booths for out-of-state vendors.

Bag-well and Blake have also given the out-of-state vendors promotional materials, even encouraging people to check out what they can buy before hand ( With out-of-state vendors selling products at the Emerald Cup, not only are the event managers risking the Cup’s reputation, but also endangering the local marijuana industry. By promoting out-of-state vendors and allowing them to sell at the Cup, the event managers are endorsing this illegal behavior. Delinquent behavior before the extension of protective amendments provides the perfect excuse for federal investigation.

Furthermore, it is apparent that the event managers have no interest in preserving or conserving the local marijuana economy. Sonoma County recently experienced devastating fires, with businesses (yes! marijuana businesses) facing massive losses from capital equipment, soil and infrastructure, product, and so much more. In a time of desperation and loss, the Cup offers an opportunity for growth and rebuilding for many small-scale farmers who face the hardships presented by the fires.

By allowing one business,, to monopolize the Seed Hall, Bag-well and Blake are clearly demonstrating their motives, to line their own pockets and negatively impact independent cannabis businesses in Sonoma County. Those businesses not associated will not have access to the concentrated foot traffic of seed buyers by being excluded from the hall. This does not promote a free market economy and stifles local growth, which does not benefit our general marijuana community.

Conclusion - What to do?

Refund the 20 out-of-state vendors and lift the monopoly on the Seed Hall. Give those spots to local vendors and allow them to sell their products free of fear from federal interruption. That way, the Cup’s high-standing reputation will not be compromised, our local vendors can have the chance to rebuild the community through their business, and we won’t incite the power of the DOJ under Jeff Sessions.

Author chooses to remain anonymous for fear of repercussion


Dec 10, 2017
The author of this piece is 100% on it. Jeff Sessions must go!
- Beef Mcwin

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