With great flower comes great responsibility. And nobody on Earth has a greater collection of flower than the judges at the Emerald Cup, the annual cannabis celebration and competition that tasks a panel of experts with identifying California’s finest buds from among hundreds of entries.

No matter how much herb you smoke, not everyone’s cracked up to be an Emerald Cup judge.

Judging all that weed is a grind (pun intended) that’s equal parts glorious and grueling. But rest assured, those entrusted with this awesome responsibility do everything in their power to honor both the privilege of their position and the importance of the task at hand.

I report this after spending a couple of months observing their judging process at close range, powered by a…

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