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One of the most storied weekends on the competitive cannabis circuit, the High Times Northern California Cannabis Cup has been used as a proving ground for the world’s best cultivators since its inception in San Francisco at the beginning of the decade. That first year, a version of Subcool’s Vortex took home top honors.

These days, it serves as a must-hit weekend for the world’s best cultivators not long after the outdoor planting season. The artisan growers that have spent decades producing some of the finest marijuana on the planet in The Emerald Triangle pack up their trucks, and head south to wine country. On arrival at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, arguably the global epicenter for elite cannabis competitions, the competitors will check out the competition and gauge the trends of the moment like Tangie in 2016 or Purple Punch last year. This year they will also be greeted by the biggest music lineup in the event’s history. Phil Lesh and Friends anchor a stacked line up that will include Blues Traveler, G. Love & Special Sauce, and Arrested Development.


Here are some booths that will be an early must-stop for anyone with a clue… in other words, get there quickly, before they sell out.

Alien Labs

Since they won their first NorCal Cup in 2015, Alien Labs exploded onto the NorCal scene with some of the best versions of the hottest strains on the planet. Last month they swept all the flower categories at the inaugural Central Valley Cannabis Cup and sold their entire stock rapidly on Day One, but were kind enough to do a special drop of their Gelato #41 for the Day Two crowds. Keep an eye out for their cup-winning Wedding Cake and Dosi Punch, as both are easily some of the best representations of those strains.


The 85-time Cup winners at GoldDrop have been at the cutting edge of the vaporizer cartridge market for years. Their quality and consistency have regularly provided them with a large chunk of the market share in a world of ephemeral cartridge companies. There are definitely a few flavors from GoldDrop to keep an eye out for (like Durban Poison and Girl Scout Cookies). If you see they have any collaborations with Blue River Extracts, buy all of them. You’ll be thrilled with your decision.

NorCal Cannabis Cup Preview

Photo by Dan Skye


Recently called the best delivery service in the state of California by the San Francisco Chronicle, C.R.A.F.T.’s menu is backboned by their lineup of unique phenotypes and strains all grown in-house, along with a spread of cultivators they respect. They are also no strangers to the stage during the awards ceremonies, having placed multiple times in the past. Many of their best strains are the results of large seed popping projects. We highly recommend the Blueberry OG, Raspberry Cookies, and arguably the most exclusive, Chem Scout.

URB Delivery

Led by frequent High Times contributor Harry Resin, the San Francisco-based company relies on a stable of legacy genetics (including hits from yesteryear like Silver Haze). Resin’s experience growing these strains for so long near the mothership in Amsterdam translates to a skill set uniquely perfected around strains that might not be generally as popular in California yet, but are outright banging much of the time. URB took home the CBD cup in Sacramento last month.

The Village

Over the past couple years, The Village has helped changed the face of modern cannabis with some of the biggest new strains of the decade and some of the best versions you’ll ever see of the classics, like the Super Lemon Haze that got him on the podium in Sacramento last month. While plenty of folks are out there dusting some Blue Dream with a male they found in a six pack, The Village has forced himself into the discussion of who really are the best breeders in the world as half of the Symbiotic Genetics team. We’ll cover some of the flagship strains he’s helped create below.


NorCal’s fantastic breeders will surely provide attendees with a vast selection of the region’s top flavors. Keep your eyes peeled for these guys.

NorCal Cannais Cup Preview

Photo by Murray_TC

Purple Punch

Purple Punch, the strain of the year for every major US marijuana publication in 2017, was made famous in Northern California. Originally bred from Larry OG and Grandaddy Purple in Oregon by the folks at Supernova Gardens, it was further stabilized in Sacramento by the team at Symbiotic Genetics. They released the first batch of publicly available seeds last 4/20 with Supernova’s blessing, and the rest is history.


Mimosa is another absolute gem from Symbiotic Genetics and a must have in any reputable NorCal garden after it burst onto the scene last year by winning SoCal hash, glass, and music festival Chalice. Last month’s Central Valley Cannabis Cup turned into a mini-Mimosa cup since most of the booths who had flowers featured the strain. But of course, they couldn’t mess with the mothership as the original breeder, The Village of Symbiotic, made it to the podium after having the unique task of beating everyone growing his pot.


Gelato still serves as one of the crown jewels of San Francisco cannabis genetics, along with Cookies and Sunset Sherbert. No strain over the last decade has driven as much hype from phenotype to phenotype as this instant classic with the #33 and #41 finding some of the biggest fan bases of all. Gelato also served to prove SF breeder Jigga as more than a one-hit wonder after Cookies ended up being the biggest thing in pot since OG Kush, and helped put his partner on the original Gelato breeding project, Mr. Sherbinski, on the map.

Forbidden Fruit

Is Forbidden Fruit the greatest strain to ever come out of San Jose? We haven’t seen any evidence that would suggest otherwise. The uber-popular Tangie x Cherry Pie cross looks like it would put you down like some heavy purple, but in fact, produces a full-bodied chipper high that generally makes things a good time. You’ll see plenty of it this weekend so wait to pull the trigger on the purchase until you see a few batches.

For more information and updates, follow us on social media and keep tuning in to You can also download our new festival app, which has schedules, updates, and more, available on both iOS and Droid. See you soon!

NorCal Cannabis Cup Preview: Everything You Need to Smoke, Score, See, and Do in Santa Rosa

High Times

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