The first California State Fair Cannabis Awards’ winners

To celebrate 166 years, the annual California State Fair has finally gotten on the weed train. Joining its established roster of olive oil, beer, wine, and cheese competitions is the inaugural California State Fair Cannabis Awards.

Copy of comp-golden-bear trophy
The Best of California winners earn themselves a golden bear from the Golden State. (Courtesy CA State Fair)

A total of 60 awards were dolled out to the creme de la creme from submissions of over 300 licensed operators this past Thursday. But rather than a roster of celebrity judges smoking their way through the samples, the California State Fair partnered with SC Labs for a “science-based” approach that centered cannabinoid and terpene content in 10 divisions via three umbrella categories for growing techniques: indoor, outdoor and mixed light.

There was also the overall Best of California category, whose winners were awarded golden bear trophies. The vertically-integrated MOCA Humboldt led the pack with six wins; their Grape Cookies and Wookies took Best in California for CBGA and THCA respectively, as well as the golds for indoor flower. Grape Cookies also took home gold for ocimene, and their ZOG won silver for caryophyllene.

MOCA Humboldt - Head Cultivator Sarah Wright - Photo by CEO Matt Engel
Head Cultivator Sarah Wright led MOCA Humboldt to six awards for cannabinoids and terpenes. (Courtesy Matt Engel)

Cannabis is agriculture

Beyond the recognition for good weed, contestants also consider the competition a badge of legitimacy as agricultural workers. “This years inaugural awards are symbolic in the sense that the state is recognizing cannabis as a valid agricultural contribution and granting awards based on science rather than a tasting (not that we don’t love a good tasting competition),” wrote Greenline Organic Nursery on Instagram, winner of the indoor gold for their Animal Tree’s pinene.

Both Esensia Gardens and Greenshock Farms, regular contenders at the Emerald Cup, proved how dank outdoor can be with five wins each. For Greenshock, their G Lime Burst (CBDA) and Passion Orange Guava (ocimene) were both overall and outdoor gold winners. Esencia had terps on lock with multiple category gold wins for their Lemon OG (caryophyllene) and Buddha’s Hand (terpinolene).


“We are honored and humbled to be recognized for our craft, amongst top notch California cultivators and alongside the best agricultural products the state has to offer,” said Esensia Co-founder Ben Blake in a press release. “It takes three-to-four years of meticulous work for us to develop a strain from scratch to sale, akin to wine making; it is truly a craft process.”

Esensia_FarmShots_DSC05648_ Co-Founders Ben Blake and Marley Lovell

Both NorCal and SoCal shined

Other “Best of” winners include North Country Pharms, (Tractor Gas) Naughty Squirrel Farms (Lemon Vuitton) Gentleman’s Cut (Laughing Gas), and Silver Dragon Cannabis (Mendo Crumble). Category winners include seasoned vets like Ridgeline Farms, Talking Tree Farms, Huckleberry Hill Farms, and dispensary chain Harborside.


In a twist, Emerald Spirit Botanicals’s THCV-rich Pink Boost Goddess, which also won at the 2021 Emerald Cup,  was given a “unique” category win.

You can find the full list of winners here. There will be an official ceremony for winners (but no consumption!) at the upcoming fair’s CA Cannabis Exhibit, which runs from July 15-31, 2022, at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento, California.