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David Bienenstock, Leafly.

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.

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 set of carefully calibrated protocols that pair an incredible depth of human knowledge and experience with cutting-edge laboratory analysis and data.

How can you judge a Jack Herer or a Trainwreck versus an OG Kush or a Chemdawg? It’s like judging apples and oranges.

Alec Dixon, Co-Founder and Director of Client Relations, SC Labs

My behind-the-scenes access came with great responsibility and, ultimately, a hard reckoning with my own limitations. After initially agreeing to serve as a judge in this year’s contest, I reluctantly…