Two Events, One Cup: Dates Leave Many Cannabis Aficionados Torn Between MJBizcon and The Emerald Cup

For 16 years the hardcore enthusiasts enthralled with Northern California’s annual outdoor cannabis harvest, The Emerald Cup, have gathered in increasingly less-secret locations in order to celebrate sungrown bud and the people who bring it to the masses.

Unlike other cookie cutter cannabis events consisting of parking lots packed with pop up canopies and Vista Print banners, the Emerald Cup has managed to maintain its earned and authentic position in the grassroots of the cannabis culture. It has done so by putting the plant first and by holding firm to its core philosophy of employing regenerative practices any time you can – whether while growing outdoor cannabis, or while organizing and pulling off the world’s largest and longest running celebration of outdoor cannabis.

Since 2003, this group has gathered in mid-December to pay homage to the cash crop of The Emerald Triangle and the elusive gaggle of growers that form the fabric of California’s cannabis culture in a year-end tradition that has grown to host tens of thousands of attendees from all over the state, the country, and the world.

On the other end of the cannabis spectrum, MJBizCon has traditionally taken place roughly one month prior to the Emerald Cup and it too has grown exponentially in recent years. Hosted at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Bizcon will also see tens of thousands of attendees come through the event known more for 3-piece blue suits with brown shoes than for dreadlocks and tattoos. Whereas The Emerald Cup focuses on the plant and the farmer, MJ Bizcon focuses on all of the “picks and shovels” that have turned a weed into an industry. If you are seeking investment capital, MJ Bizcon is a great place to rub elbows with the investment capital types as the Vegas destination lures all sorts of business people to this pre-Thanksgiving getaway to Sin City. This year, though, the people behind MJBizCon inexplicably changed the date of their midweek/mid-November event to take place the same week as The Emerald Cup.

Why MJ Bizcon?

As mentioned, the networking at the event itself can be priceless. That’s not to say that there will not be a fair amount of morons walking the aisles (and manning some booths), but opportunity is truly endless at MJ Bizcon if you have a legitimate product or service that you are trying to sell or promote. Last year saw an influx of attendees from both Canada and Oklahoma, both there for different reasons.

The Canadians were there, in large part, looking for established American brands that they could trade money for ownership stakes in to not only glean valuable and heard-earned SOPs from, but to get an early foothold in a U.S. market that appears to be on its way toward national cannabis legalization of some sort.

The Oklahomans were there to source machinery, software, packaging, genetics, and all of the other needs associated with launching a new medical marijuana market. This year do not be surprised if you meet many Michiganders and lots of Illinoisans both at the event and at the second good reason to go to MJBizcon… the afterparties.

Afterparties at MJ Bizcon have improved quite a bit since Nevada passed its adult use recreational cannabis laws, but public consumption is still not allowed, nor is smoking anywhere on casino grounds, or in your hotel room, or… So for years you’d find way more booze and blow at these gatherings than any respectable amount of marijuana but it’s getting better. Last year at a big afterparty with the guys from Beard Bros. Pharms, we were outside of a massive hotel suite on an also-massive outdoor balcony sparking a joint when the paid security walked up and said, “You can’t smoke that out here, but I’ll let you finish that one.” Cool, we did finish it… then we sparked another one. Out of the shadows he appeared again, and with the same exact tone of voice, but a slight smile, he repeated word for word, “You can’t smoke that out here, but I’ll let you finish that one.” So yeah, it’s getting better but you still need to do your due diligence before committing to any afterparty if consuming cannabis is a priority.

That’s it. If you like Vegas, networking, and nightlife, MJ Bizcon is gaining in popularity for those reasons.

At the Emerald Cup, the event IS the party and consumption is not only allowed, it’s the whole point!

The Cup celebrates the Emerald Triangle’s harvest and offers a grassroots competition that will feature over 500 contest entries this year – both from licensed operators and from home growers. The weekend will also feature performances from just-announced Saturday headliner Flatbush Zombies as well as Santigold, Steel Pulse, Emancipator, The Polish Ambassador, Expendables, & more.

For the first time, Emerald Cup will also have an app available for both iOS and Android users. With such vast and diverse reprogramming, attendees are encouraged to download the app for real time updates throughout the weekend and to better enhance their festival experience. The app, full weekend schedule, and tickets for 21+ patrons are available now at

To encourage community service in the Emerald Cup family, the event producers have announced multiple service-related endeavors in partnership with Santa Rosa. Prior to the event, the Emerald Cup team will be helping nurture the health of the Martin Luther King Jr. Park by planting and re-staking trees for the public to enjoy for years to come. The Emerald Cup will also host a food drive benefiting the Redwood Empire Food Bank ( While patrons can bring individual items for donation, Redwood Empire Food Bank would prefer bags of “full meal” donations that would include include ingredients for a full meal such as pasta, pasta sauce, along with fruits and veggies. “In acknowledgement of the recent and ongoing trials our community is facing, from the fires and power outages to the continuing changes and challenges with industry regulations, we have decided to direct our energies toward service to our community,” notes Emerald Cup founder and producer Tim Blake.

The Emerald Cup has also developed into the destination for agricultural experts, industry innovators, health and wellness advocates, cultural enthusiasts and the canna-curious to celebrate and expand their horizons. The Marketplace allows attendees to taste the terroir of California, featuring vendors including 20 seed companies bringing exclusive releases to the event and sungrown cannabis vendors from throughout the state. The weekend will see 300 brands including sponsors Cookies, The Botanist, Flow Kana, Elyon, Connected Cannabis, Alien Labs, Hempire and SC Labs; over 100 educational sessions & podcast recordings featuring over 160 speakers including NBA Star and cannabis advocate Matt Barnes, Peter Tosh’s Estate executor and daughter Niambe McIntosh, cannabis entrepreneur and The Notorious B.I.G.’s son C.J. Wallace, Dr. Bronner CEO David Bronner, Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s Virginie Boone, California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Ryan Mathis, and NORML’s Justin Strekal; and much more. HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project will also be with us this year, making some noise and registering voters at their booth where people can pick up a FREE Cannabis Voter pin.

The Emerald Cup takes place Saturday, December 14th and Sunday, December 15th in Santa Rosa, California at the Sonoma County Fairground. They even have a smartphone app to keep you up to date in real-time to allow you to set a schedule to help you see, hear, and smoke it all.

You can check it out HERE.

The proximity of the dates between the two events may leave many prospective vendors and attendees torn as to which to attend. If you cannot make it to both, hopefully this basic rundown will help you decide which one is a closer fit for your priorities.

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