Expanded Awards in 2024!

Competition Overview

The 2024 CA State Fair Cannabis Awards continues to celebrate California’s cannabis industry with an expanded competition format showcasing 3 flower categories awarding 11 chemotypes, and 6 new product categories awarding 16 product types.

The Awards competition is open to all licensed California cannabis cultivators and manufacturers.

The Submission Window officially opens March 11, 2024 and extends through May 17, 2024.

The Awards competition has partnered with SC Labs for the flower-only potency testing and Budist, the industry’s first professional ratings and and review platform for judging across all categories. Budist is led by a diverse group of cannabis critics, or “Budists”, which includes certified Ganjiers, cup judges, subject matter experts, and connoisseurs. 

Gold & Silver Medalists will be announced in June, with the “Best of California” Golden Bear trophy winners announced at the opening of the CA State Fair in Sacramento – July 12 – 28, 2024.

Price for Entry:  $350 per entry w/ valid Certificate of Analysis (COA)

Discounts for multiple entries apply

Flower Categories subject to additional Potency/R&D Test through Official Lab Partner SC Labs

Flower Potency/R&D from SC Labs costs included in $350 entry

New for 2024:  Competition now accepts valid COAs from any CA licensed lab

Flower Categories

It begins with light source

Sun Grown

Mixed Light


Gold and Silver medals will be determined through science-based testing for specific Chemotypes in each Flower Category. Entries will be evaluated and ranked based on the abundance of terpenes and cannabinoids (or Chemotypes) revealed through SC Labs Potency/R&D testing. Eleven medals will be awarded per Flower Category as follows:

Six (6) Primary Terpenes – Limonene, Myrcene, Ocimene, Caryophyllene, Terpinolene, Pinene 

Co-Dominant Terpene Profile – Myrcene, Caryophyllene, Limonene (MCL)

Total Terpene

Three (3) Major Cannabinoids – THCa, CBGa, CBDa. 

Myrcene is the terpene most frequently found in cannabis, and is described as earthy and herbal. Myrcene is found in hops, thyme, lemongrass and mango. Cultivars in which Myrcene is the dominant terpene represent the largest proportion of cultivars currently available in the market.

Suggested Effects:
Sedative and Relaxation

Cultivars: Cherry AK, Forbidden Fruit, Tangie and Blueberry

Learn more

One of two isomers of the monoterpene Pinene, the most abundant terpene in the natural world. It is responsible for the distinct aroma of many coniferous trees, particularly pines, from which it derives its name. α-Pinene is found in dill, basil, rosemary, and parsley, in addition to pine needles and other conifers.

Suggested Effects: Stimulating and Focus

Cultivars: Black Lime Reserve, Fruit Stripe, Sour Carmello and Taffy  

Learn more 

A sesquiterpene with a fragrance that can be described as spicy, dry, woody, dusty, and mildly sweet. β-Caryophyllene is found in black pepper and cloves and is used as a flavoring agent to add spicy and herbal notes.

Suggested Effects: Comfort and CB2 Receptor Agonist

:  Cookies, Gelato, Runtz, Sour Diesel and Purple Punch

Learn more

Ocimene imparts a sweet, floral and woody scent. Although present in many cultivars, Ocimene dominant cultivars of cannabis are rare. It can be found in a wide variety of plants including hops, kumquats, mangoes, basil, bergamot, lavender, orchids, and pepper in varying quantities. It is used extensively in the perfume industry due to its aromatic profile.

Suggested Effects: Relaxation and Comfort

Cultivars: Harmony Rose, Tropical Sleigh Ride, Pineapple and Mango

Learn more

Terpinolene has a complicated organoleptic profile with a nose described as woody and herbaceous yet floral. It can be found in nature in lilac, tea tree, apples, cumin, and nutmeg. Terpinolene is common in cultivars/strains but usually in small amounts. Cultivars/strains in which Terpinolene is dominant are much less common.

Suggested Effects: Creative, Cerebral, Uplifting and Energy

Cultivars: Train Wreck, Super Lemon Haze, Dutch Treat and Jack Herrer

Learn more

A monoterpene with a fragrance that can be described as orangey, citrusy, sweet, and tart. Limonene is common to the lemon and other citrus essential oils, and is the second most widely distributed terpenoid in nature. 

Suggested Effects: Inspiration, Uplifting and Antidepressant

Cultivars: Banana OG, Strawberry Banana, Berry White and MAC 

Learn more 


New for 2024!  Final Judging for Flower will award the “Best of California” Golden Bear Trophies

Each Gold Medalist in the Sun Grown, Mixed Light and Indoor Categories will advance to an accredited panel of cannabis critics, or “Budists”, for blind scoring utilizing the Budist Evaluation Method. One Golden Bear trophy will be awarded per Category, designating that entry as the “Best of California”.

Flower Awards Criteria

How it Works

  • Entrant must be a licensed California cultivator
  • Entrant must have a Metric Batch # and a valid COA for the submission
  • Entrant may submit multiple cultivars
  • All entrants will receive a Potency/R&D Test from SC Labs, facilitated by Organizers
  • All product will be photographed in Hi Res for marketing materials
  • Each Entry will receive a PhtoFacts chemometric report
  • SC Labs clients who have obtained a COA and appropriate Potency/R&D test will receive a complimentary entry for one submission
  • SC Labs clients who have tested between Jan.1, 2024 and March 5, 2024 qualify for the competition
  • SC Labs clients and new SC Labs clients will be directed to SC Labs onboarding portal during registration and follow SC Labs S.O.P. for account set-up and product logistics

Science-based Criteria


  • SC Labs will test each cultivar for chemometric data, using their innovative cannabinoid and terpene reporting platform –  PhytoFacts®*
  • This easy-to-understand report characterizes the chemical profile of flower through intuitive data visualizations. These visualizations identify the chemical profile, dominant and proportional cannabinoids and terpenes, sensory attributes, and potential entourage effects of the submitted sample.
  • PhytoFacts allows for accurate sorting of samples into major chemometric families and subcategories that highlight similar sensory and physiological properties. It helps identify aged, immature, or sub-standard cannabis while also flagging unique outliers.
  • Awards will be given to entrants with the most abundance of the qualifying compounds.

*PhytoFacts is a registered trademark of Napro Research, LLC

Why We’re Testing Terpenes and Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis can represent upwards of 40% of the mass of a female flower. It is the profile of these highly potent compounds that is the best predictor of the aroma, flavor, and effects of a particular strain. This profile is referred to as the plant’s chemotype; the identification and measurement of the cannabinoids and terpenoids in a strain.

Instead of sorting entries by Indica, Sativa, Hybrid, we will celebrate the chemistry of the plant. Chemotype profiles offer a better method of organizing cannabis strains and predicting effects and organoleptic (aroma/flavor) attributes.

Through the SC Labs PhytoFacts chemometric reports, we will identify specific cannabinoids and terpenes, and their levels of concentration in the sample to determine the category winners by Division.

Understanding the variance of chemotypes is central to building an informed relationship with cannabis, and our hope is that this chemistry-first approach will usher in enhanced consumer awareness, interest, and education of cannabis chemistry.

Visit the SC Labs website for more educational information:

Submitting Your Flower

Shelf Ready Packaged Flower: 

  • Packaged flower to be delivered to Embarc retail locations by Entrant’s distributor of record
  • Product Requirements:  Eight (8) packaged eighths – shelf ready
    • Two (2) for testing purposes 
    • Six (6) for Golden Bear judging via Budist’s panel, marketing and display purposes 
  • Organizer will facilitate testing with SC Labs and secure PhytoFacts by entry
  • Organizer will organize Gold Medalists for submission to Budist Competition Panel
  • Organizer will facilitate testing with SC Labs and secure PhytoFacts
  • Budist will conduct judging of blind flower samples utilizing Budist Evaluation Method

New Categories for 2024!

Always progressing, the CA State Fair Cannabis Awards are added six (6) new product Categories with sixteen (16) Product Types to the competition.

Gold and Silver Medals will be awarded by Product Type with an overall “Best of California” Golden Bear Trophy awarded for each Category.

Category Product Type
Pre-Roll Non-Infused, Infused – Solventless, Infused – Solvent
Concentrates Solvent, Solventless
Cartridge Solvent, Solventless
Edibles Chocolates, Baked Goods, Candies
Beverages Ready-to-Drink Beverages, Beverage Enhancers & Mixers
Wellness Products Tablets, Capsules, Topicals, Tinctures







Wellness Products

Product Type

Non-Infused, Infused – Solventless, Infused – Solvent

Solvent, Solventless

Solvent, Solventles

Chocolates, Baked Goods, Candies

Ready-to-Drink Beverages, Beverage Enhancers & Mixers

Tablets, Capsules, Topicals, Tinctures

Budist Evaluation Method

The Budist panel of judges will be assigned to each Category and Product Type based on their qualifications and area of expertise. Their role is to objectively assess the quality and craftsmanship of each entry and determine if the product delivers on its intended use case. Judges are required to follow a standardized methodology to ensure that their ratings are fair, honest, and based on their professional assessment of each entry.

Budist uses a 100-point rating scale and applies this point system to evaluate each entry based on factors such as Aroma, Flavor, Appearance and Effect. Each of these attributes are assigned point values based on factors such as their complexity, intensity, and efficacy, and the total points are averaged to yield the final rating. The Gold & Silver medals (excluding Flower) and Golden Bear trophies will be awarded to the contestants that receive the highest scores in their respective category.

Submitting Your Product

Shelf Ready Packaged Product: 

  • Product to be delivered to Embarc Retail locations by Entrant’s distributor of record
  • Product submission to include ten (10) units for Budist Competition Panel review (include extra units for display purposes as desired)
  • Organizer will provide product for submission to Budist Competition Panel 
  • Budist wil conduct judging of products utilizing Budist Evaluation Method


Entrants are vying for 100+ Gold and Silver Medals

Silver & Gold Medals awarded to top two winners for each Chemotype and Product Category

Specialty Awards

Golden Bears

Nine (9) Golden Bear Trophies 


Unique medals will be awarded to rare and distinctive cannabinoid and terpene profiles in the the Flower categories

Competition Guide

Click the button below to view and download the 2024 Competition Guide.

Please email info@castatefaircannabisawards.com if you have any questions. 



Cannabis ticks all the boxes for inclusion as a coveted Awards competition.  Cannabis became legal for recreational adult use in 2018 in California.  The CA Cannabis industry is highly regulated, culturally significant, part of our agricultural legacy and essential to the California economy.

There will be NO sales or consumption of cannabis products containing THC (the psychoactive compound responsible for the “high”) at the CA State Fair in 2023.

Yes. A 21 and over CA Cannabis Exhibit experience will be created on the fairgrounds celebrating the Award winners, sponsors and State agencies with educational displays and activations.

Due to advertising restrictions set forth by Prop 64, the exhibit is open strictly to adults 21+. IDs will be checked at the door. 


For more information on sponsorship of the Fair, go to www.calexpostatefair.com

For more information on sponsorship of the Fair, go to www.castatefaircannabisawards.com

In 2022, we had over 300 submissions. We anticipate hundreds of submissions for the 2023 Awards.

The Competition

Licensed California cultivators. The cultivator must work with a distributor or have a distributor license in order to obtain a compliance COA.

You may enter as many cultivars as you like.

Submission Fee – $250

Discounts for multiple cultivar submissions:

    • $225 (each)– 2 cultivars
    • $220 (each)– 3 cultivars
    • $210 (each)– 4 cultivars

NOTE: Testing fee is $465 and includes COA from SC Labs

A compliance COA is needed for all entries. SC Labs will provide a COA as well as test results through an easy one-step process.

The certificate of analysis (COA) from SC Lab for the CA State Fair Flower Compliance is $465 for a single sample. For 3 or more samples, COAs are $450 each.

Divisions are based on light source; indoor, mixed light, outdoor. You know your source best!

We aspire to host a Homegrown category/division in the future, but for now there are some compliance, testing, and legal restrictions that make a homegrown division difficult to administer during this first year.

Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis. The most notable cannabinoid is the phytocannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol, the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis. Cannabidiol is another major constituent of the plant. There are at least 113 different cannabinoids isolated from cannabis, exhibiting varied effects.


Terpenes, and terpenoids, are naturally occurring aromatic compounds found in many plants. Often, they are responsible for the characteristic smells (lavender, pine trees, and oranges as examples) and are the major constituent of plant essential oils and resins.

The submission window officially opens on January 18, 2023 and closes on May 19, 2023.

Yes. Need a compliance COA? Want to set up an account with SC Labs early? Need to conduct R&D testing beforehand? We will accommodate: Click Here.

There will be a remediation 4-week period for those submission samples who fail the compliance testing. Yes, you will need to pay for a second test.

All Things SC Labs

Once you are a client you will receive credentials to log into SC Labs Client Service Portal (CSP). In the application you can schedule a sampling event. 

Entrants must submit a batch size minimum of 18 grams up to a maximum 50 lbs (per DCC regulations).

Why do we request a minimum batch size of 18 grams?

  • The sampling event size for the CA State Fair Cannabis Awards is a minimum 16g, or 0.35% of the total weight of the batch (whichever is greater).
  • State Fair Cannabis Awards Compliance testing requires a minimum sample weight of 16 grams
  • SC Labs will sample 16 grams and leave the remaining product with the distributor. We request a minimum batch size of 18 grams so that we can leave at least 2 grams in the original package. Any batch size over 18 grams is no issue.
  • Ultimately, test results will be reported and synced with the source METRC package, which requires that there be product left in the original package.
  • 16 grams of material allows us to prep for the state compliance panel of testing, including our potency/terpenoid test in Triplicate.
  • The Awards are determined by these test results.
  • Please note, if the product submitted is underweight when SC Labs goes to sample it, they will not be able to collect enough material, and therefore would have to skip sampling it at that time and until the farmer gets enough sample to the distributor.

No other items are required at the time of submission. Award winners will be contacted and encouraged to provide additional marketing collateral for promotional purposes. 

The SC Labs Client Service Portal hosts information about your results. When samples are submitted for testing, orders are assigned a status (Submitted, Accepted, Scheduled, Processing, Preliminary Results, Completed).

Winners will be announced in May 2022.

Yes, per Department of Cannabis Control (DCC), regulations compliance sampling events can only take place at a licensed distributor. 

No, SC Labs has been chosen as the exclusive lab for the California State Fair Cannabis Awards. To learn more about SC Labs, Click Here.

If you are unfamiliar with SC Labs processes, we recommend performing an R&D test or mock compliance on your material. This will allow you time to discuss results with your SC Labs account manager and address any concerns prior to compliance testing. While there are subtle differences between laboratories, all labs are required to meet the same regulatory standards and proficiency testing. Because of inherent variance in biomass, sampling procedure often plays a bigger role in variance than laboratory processes.

CA State Fair – General

CalExpo Fairgrounds