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Santa Rosa Cannabis Cup 2022: Your Ultimate Guide

Santa Rosa Cannabis Cup 2022: Your Ultimate Guide

Santa Rosa: Location and Cannabis Policy

Sitting just an hour's drive north of San Francisco, Santa Rosa is a true gem of the pacific North West. The county seat of Sonoma County, this stunning city holds a population of just under 200,000 full-time residents, which can swell to more than double during the holiday period. It still keeps its small-town charm in many respects, and the surrounding natural beauty remains in pristine condition. 

As the gateway to the Sonoma and Napa Valleys of California's famed Wine Country, Santa Rosa boasts some of the country's best wineries at its doorsteps, but it is not only top-shelf grapes that can be found in abundance.

Northern Cali is also home to some of the very best cannabis farms worldwide, and it shows. Local dispensaries are constantly filled with delicious new strains, cutting-edge cannabis tech, and everything in between.

Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa: Ultimate Guide 2022: A woman in sunglasses sniffing at a flowering branch of cannabis plant

Santa Rosa is home to great cannabis.

So, what is the actual legality of recreation and medicinal cannabis in Santa Rosa?

While the use, sale, and possession of cannabis over 0.3% THC in the United States remains illegal under federal law - As Santa Rosa is part of California, recreational marihuana has been available since 2018 under state mandates. This does come with some forms of restriction, and these laws do not apply to any federal land such as nature reserves, military installations, etc. 

In Santa Rosa

  • You must be 21 or older to purchase or use recreational cannabis in any form - vaping, eating, or smoking;
  • Adults are permitted to hold up to 28.5 grams of dried cannabis flower, or 8 grams of cannabis extract such as shatter, wax, and terp sauce that includes diamonds;
  • It is illegal to drive any type of motor vehicle while under the influence of cannabis;
  • It is illegal to smoke or consume cannabis products in public areas (although it is anything but uncommon to smell some dank deliciousness while walking the streets of Santa Rosa);
  • Adults are permitted to grow up to 6 indoor cannabis plants in one residence, no matter the number of people residing;
  • Outdoor cultivation is restricted to two plants per residence. 

California was one of the very first states to implement the “Compassionate Use Act”, way back in 1996. Medicinal Cannabis Patients 

  • Can hold up to 8 ounces (226 grams) of dried cannabis flower;
  • Are exempt from paying the 15% excise tax on all cannabis products.

Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa: Ultimate Guide 2022: A man in cannabis windbreaker blowing marijuana smoke at a crowd from a DeWalt blower

Using an industry-strength blower to get a whole crowd high.

High Times Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa

As any seasoned stoner can attest to, The High Times Cannabis Cup is the biggest event on any city's weed calendar. Started way back in 1987 in Rotterdam, it quickly became the gold standard for all cannabis competitions. These days, events are held in cities worldwide, with a bunch of North American stops. 


Santa Rosa has been host to the Northern California (NORCAL) High Times Cannabis Cup a few times, with the most recent event being held in 2018 at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The 2-day event was packed with vendors from all around the country selling every type of weed product you can think of, and a bunch that you probably haven't even heard of before. There were stalls from all the usual suspects - Alien Labs of Wedding Cake and Dosi Punch fame (who were kind enough to release Gelato #41 on the second day of the event), GoldDrop with their range of top-shelf pens and cartridges, C.R.A.F.T., URB Delivery, and The Village were just a few of the standouts. 

The event has a true festival vibe around it, and 2018 saw the most stacked musical lineup of any High Time Cannabis Cup up until that point, featuring the likes of Blues Traveler, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Arrested Development.

Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa: Ultimate Guide 2022: Fairgrounds at a cannabis festival with two rows of booths, crowds of visitors, and a High Times Cannabis Cup banner in the foreground

Great vibes of Californian summer at HTCC in Santa Rosa.

2019 saw it move back to San Francisco, and then we had that annoying little period known as COVID where it became impossible to hold large events open to the public. Since then (2020, 2021, and 2022), the events have been run in a dramatically different format. Dubbed as ‘Peoples Choice’ awards, instead of the usual 2-day festival style events they have been at home affairs. While we love the way that High Times has handled this difficult period, we are hoping for a return to the glory days in 2023. An announcement is expected very soon, so check back here in a month or so for all the updated info!

Judges and Evaluation Process

So, this really has to be split up into two different answers.

For the 2018 event (and every event preceding), the judging panel was made up of a list of cannabis professionals and celebrities that were asked to enjoy each sample and vote on their favorites. They were asked to examine and taste each sample, and to grade each sample on a range of classifications, depending on the category.

As mentioned above, the more recent events have been run as ‘Peoples Choice’ events, with the judging being opened up to the public.

Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa: Ultimate Guide 2022: A panel of judges sitting at a table on a stage, with one of them anouncing something

Awarding prizes in a traditional way.

Hold up, how exactly does an at-home High Times Cannabis Cup work?

It was actually a stroke of brilliance from the guys over at High Times. 

The judging role was offered to anyone holding a valid medicinal cannabis I.D, with kits being available for purchase online or from a huge list of participating dispensaries. Approved applicants were then asked to grab a kit for whichever category they fancied, and get smoking (or vaping, or eating). They were then asked to evaluate the product on strict guidelines, and submit judging reports. 

Kits ranged in price, starting at around $100 for nine edible samples up to around $300 for twenty-eight Sativa flower samples. These prices are lower than what a regular customer would pay for the same amount of product from a dispensary. 

Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa: Ultimate Guide 2022: An outside shot of a large crowd of people probably facing the stage and waiting for a show to begin

Why wait for the winner to be announced if you can become a judge yourself?

While the judging period has passed for this year's NORCAL High Times Cannabis Cup, it is still open for the Massachusetts People's Choice event! So, if you are a resident of Massachusetts and want to get involved, head straight to and sign up to become a judge right now!

Award Categories and Latest Winners

The 2018 event saw a bunch of new strains hit the scene, with a long list of awards handed out. 

1st Place Winners

CategoryProduct  /  StrainProducer / Cultivator
Best ProductMint Chocolate ChipSeedsExotic Genetix
Best Indica FlowersCreme De La CremeTeam Elite Genetics with OG Collective
Best Hybrid Flowers40 ElephantsGarrison Lane
Best Sativa FlowersGelonadeConnected
Best Indica ConcentrateAlbert WalkerFirst Class Concentrates
Best Hybrid ConcentrateCandy Nova Team Elite Genetics
Best CBD ConcentrateKosher Jack CBDPearl Pharma with Terps on the Rocks


CategoryProduct  /  StrainProducer / Cultivator
Best Non-Solvent HashSherbet Live RosinEve Farms in collaboration with Ahti
Best Pre-RollLoaded Pre-Roll Loaded in collaboration with Critical Concentrates
Best Vape Pens & CartridgesBig Lemons Vape CartGold Drop and Lemon Tree
Best EdibleStrawberry Express Edible TinctureVal’s Organics with Weed Studio and Critical Minds
Best CBD EdibleCaramel CBD Dark ChocolateChill, the Highest Chocolate
Best TopicalsHawaiian CreamVal’s Organics with the Weed Studio City

Where To Grab Tickets

With the last three NORCAL High Times Cannabis Cup being at-home events, there has been no need to purchase tickets. All judging info (including the application process and kit purchasing) can be found at 

We are hoping to see a triumphant return of the true Cannabis Cup format again in 2023, and are expecting an announcement to be made in the coming weeks! We will update this page with all the relevant ticketing information as soon as it becomes available. 

Other Cannabis Award Ceremonies and Events in Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa is about as weed-friendly as any city in the world, and so there are more than a few ganja-centric events dotted throughout the yearly calendar. 

The Emerald Cup is up there with the most important annual cannabis events in the city. It has been held for 19 years, transforming from a low-key, insider event (discussed in hushed tones within small circles of industry insiders) to a truly colossus event. It first kicked off in 2004, with just a few weed growers who gathered informally to share cultivation tips and tricks. This first year was actually infiltrated by the feds, which subsequently resulted in more than a few of the winners being raided during the next growing season.

Watch this video and get a feel for what an Emerald Cup in Santa Rosa may be like.

It was in 2013 when the event finally saw some proper mainstream acceptance and was officially sanctioned to take place at the Sonoma fairgrounds. Since then, the Emerald cup has grown each and every year to showcase more vendors, seed banks, exhibitors, guest speakers, music acts, and other cutting-edge cannabis strains and products.

2022 was actually the first year that it was held outside of Santa Rosa, with the event moving down to Hollywood. This was a one-time move, and there is another 2022 date upcoming in Santa Rosa. 

There are a bunch of fun events held every April 20th in and around Santa Rosa. Our favorite is the 420 Smokers Cup. This is a different type of tournament, with entrants competing to see who can guess the most strains out of a stacked list of novelty and ex-cup-winning offerings. This event is also used as a platform to launch new strains and products, with doctors on hand to provide recommendations. There are live music performances, a seminar slot featuring a wide range of guest speakers, and a heap of giveaways on offer. 


The next Emerald Cup to take place in Santa Rosa is on the 10th and 11th of December, 2021. 

The 420 Smokers Cup is run each year on - you guessed it - April 20th. 

Cannabis Cup in Santa Rosa: Ultimate Guide 2022: A crowded alley between two rows of booths at a cannabis event

Any marijuana fair is a fun place to be.

Judges and Evaluation Process

The Emerald Cup is run like most other big cup events, but they are maybe the most comprehensive, with 43 categories covering the full spectrum of the cannabis marketplace. The Judging panel is also a little bigger, with over 80 of the most diverse cannabis experts all working together to crown the winner of each category. This is done hand-in-hand with SC Labs, to determine which seed producers really do have the best of the best in California cannabis.

The 420 Smoker Cup, unlike your traditional comp, is a one-day event where anyone can try their hand (or lungs) at guessing the most weed strains correctly. Entrants are asked to sample a huge range of buds, extracts, and even some edibles to see who will be crowned ‘King of the Tokers’. 

Award Categories and Latest Winners

The 2021 Emerald Cup winners were:

Emerald Cup (2021) 1st Place Winners

CategoryProduct  /  StrainProducer / Cultivator
Best Sungrown FlowerLemon Sponge CakeFarmer and the Felon
Best Mixed Light FlowerModified GrapesLitHouse
Best Indoor FlowerAnimal FaceFig Farms
Best Sungrown Greenhouse FlowerSherbheadLocal Cannabis Co 
Best Personal Use FlowerOhrangatang TittiesParker PZ Moselle
Best Pre-Roll – Infused Solventless ExtractModified LemonsSovereign & Geode Joint
Best Pre-Roll – Infused Solvent ExtractPaletas Mother’s Milk Infused Blunt


CategoryProduct  /  StrainProducer / Cultivator
Best Pre-Roll – Non-InfusedGelonade 6pk Flower Pre-RollLost Paradise Organics
Best Ice Water HashWhitethorn Rose Live Bubble HashHeritage Hash Co
Best Rosin PapayaRosin Tech Labs x Luma Farms
Best Personal Use SolventlessWooksauce Winery Screaming MimisAlice Reis x Flynn Abeln
Best C02 CartridgeHaku CO2 Live ResinC02 CartridgeHaku
Best Distillate CartridgeStrawberry Banana – Cannabis Derived TerpenesyLEGION – Monarch
Best Solventless Cartridge Runtz Live Rosin Vape CartridgeLDoc Green’s


CategoryProduct  /  StrainProducer / Cultivator
Best Therapeutic TopicalCBD Joint & Muscle CreamCare By Design
Best TinctureRefresh Drops 1:1 MAXCare By Design
Best Edibles – BeverageHiFi Hoppy ChillHiFi Sessions x Lagunitas x Absolute Xtracts
Best Edibles – GummiesPapaya Rosin GummiesKalya x Elephante
Best Alternative Cannabinoid Terry T & Gelato 33Pure Beauty
Most Innovative ProductJelly Ranchers. Unholy Rosin/Resin Split JarHoly Water x Honey Suckle Lotus
Regenerative Farm Award Farm CutEmerald Spirit Botanicals


This is actually just a short sample of the awards handed out, for the full list head over to 

The 420 Smokers Cup does not publish a list of winners, so you will just have to head to the show next year to see for yourself!

Where To Grab Tickets

For all Emerald Cup ticketing info, head to

To grab a ticket to The 420 Smokers Cup, click here 

The Wrap Up

So, there you have it. If you are a Santa Rosa local and love all things sticky-icky then make sure you grab a pass to all these events - and keep an eye out for any and all updates we make to this list in the coming months!


As the legal cannabis industry grows, there are more and more niche cannabis cups and each one is unique; Sometimes more focused on the medicinal side and sometimes more focused on the recreational side but always focused on the cannabis community. 

The American Autoflower Cup will be holding the unique cannabis cup and we invite you to come and be a part of this community, get to know like-minded individuals, and share your experience.