California's leading annual cannabis festival, the Emerald Cup, is headed to the international stage. This summer, Emerald Cup will be branching out from Northern California and expanding to Europe — Birmingham, England, to be exact — to partner with Product Earth Expo-Fest for a weekend of education, demonstrations, music, and more.
"There's a lot happening, specifically in northern Europe," Tim Blake, founder of the Emerald Cup, told Civilized. "Legalization is coming through in England, France, and Germany. A tremendous market is going to open up there in Europe."
Indeed, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Greece, the Czech Republic, and other European countries are beginning to dip their toes into the medical marijuana industry, with Israel — leading the world in cannabis science research — gearing up to export cannabis and cannabis IP to the global market.
When Blake partnered with events production company Red Light Management, "it was with the intention of getting a world-class production team to take the Cup around the state, country, and world," he said. "One of the first things we're doing is planting the flag in Europe. You don't have sales going on [there] yet, but like everywhere else, you have to go and plant your flag and move forward."
While California's regulated cannabis market is still far more robust than Europe's, the goal of the Emerald Cup's international launch isn't to make sales (yet), but to provide an education to the upcoming market about pressing issues like regenerative agriculture and sustainability in cannabis cultivation. As Europe's cannabis industry begins to take root, now is a crucial time for seasoned cannabis industry folk from California to teach newcomers about creating an environmentally conscious industry.
"This is a huge, critical moment in agriculture's history," said Blake. In some regions, the cultivation of cannabis and other crops has already destroyed the topsoil and land. "For us, it's raising that bar from organic cultivation to regenerative farming, saving not only cannabis farms, but traditional agriculture."
With the intention to take California's agricultural, breeding, and sustainable technologies to a global audience, Emerald Cup can help bring the rest of the world up to speed on responsible cannabis cultivation practices.
Moreover, Blake suggests the festival could have a positive economic impact on the local community. Each year, Emerald Cup goers alone bring in over $17 million to Sonoma County, where the festival takes place. "That's the impact of what a good cannabis event does," said Blake. "Cannabis is going to every local economy. We'll start with England and go from there."
With Europe opening up to medical marijuana, he says, "You gotta be at the forefront of it, the cutting edge" — even if that cutting edge isn't yet competitive or recreationally legal. "These international markets will be very important for genetic companies from California, the West Coast, and the US," he says. "Watching the Emerald Cup over the last 16 years, from being the only [cannabis festival] in the country, to now [with] events in every city, country, and around the world. It's an amazing thing for me to have lived to see cannabis being integrated into every society in the world."