Strap in, Leafly nation—this one is going to be a doozy. Everyone in cannabis, as in any other industry or field, wants to be the best—but how do you tell who is actually the best? Well, look at the awards. With tens of thousands of strains and products available in your area (we hope), how do you choose where to spend your hard-earned Benjamins? We can tell you that.
Cannabis competitions are back like they never left, and more state legalizations means higher bars to clear to call your stash fire. From the Bay to the Big Apple, and many detours in between, these are the buds that struck gold (and silver) at esteemed cannabis competitions and cups in 2023. Did we miss any? Let us know for 2024!
Golden State, gold standard. California, despite its market quirks, continues to set weed trends, and the world takes notes. This year was a particularly rich outing.
We begin (where else?) with the Emerald Cup. The Oscars of California weed and their expert judges have sampled thousands of flower entries over the years from cultivators looking for glory and recognition. With four commercial flower categories and 20 slots for each—that’s a lot of weed!
This year, Fig Farms won Best in Show and cinched the indoor flower crown with their Animal Face pheno, Blue Face. Double OG Chem #15 by Rebel Grown showed out for sungrown, and Ridgeline Farms proved their Runtz work is unparalleled with a mixed light LANTZ. Bubble Bath by Chameleon Craft won for greenhouse.
The California dispensary Greenwolf has been winning awards of their own for years, and now they dish them out. Their latest California Zalympix puts the golden taste of the Golden State in perspective. The Ten Co and Zushi teamed up with Blue Zushi to nab Best Overall, Best Taste, and second for Best Terps.
Another collaboration, Limitedtreesgenetics x Flavor Design, won Best Terps with Versace, and second overall. Maven Genetics’ French Laundry won Best Looking and Most Unique, with The Hydro Boys winning Heaviest Hitting with Blue Gotti Sapphire and Sour Power by Kush Company taking Gassiest. Alien Labs made the podium for Best Overall and Best Terps with a classic Zkittlez.
Now for some math. The California State Fair Cannabis Awards crunch the numbers across cannabinoids and terpenes. A number of last year’s winners returned to show out, along with some new contenders. Mercy Grown swept three Best of California awards with John Lemmon (THCa), and Pie Scream (Myrcene and Total Terpenes); Greenshock Farms’ Passion Orange Guava took Ocimene gold once again, while Esensia, MOCA Humboldt and Talking Trees Farm won with new offerings Maracuya (THCa), Caffeine (Limonene), and Rainbow Beltz (Caryophyllene), respectively. For something funky, check out Prism, the CBGa winner by Nimbus Cannabis.
Leafly contributor and one of the headiest journalists on the weed beat Jimi Devine keeps climbing with the latest Transbay Challenge V, which held four qualifier events before the ultimate competition in October. Hawaiian Snowcone by Moon Valley Cannabis, one of our SOTY alternatives, took the ultimate honors, with (again!) Maven Genetics’ French Laundry and Moonbeam by A Golden State rounded out the top three. Greendawg got an honorable mention for Candy Fumez.
The people of SoCal have spoken, and they have bougie tastes too. For the High Times People’s Choice Cup, we saw many familiar, and winning, faces. Fig Farms hit a double whammy for Best Indica Flower and Hybrid Flower with Blue Face and Animal Face, while Maven Genetics’s Orange Bellini reigning over the sativas.
Maven’s French Laundry appeared again in second place for hybrids, and A Golden State popped up again with Lava Flower. TopShelf Cultivation, Team Elite Genetics, and Seed Junky rounded out the flower categories with Peanut Butter Breath, Whoa Si Whoa, Styrofoam Cup, and Gello Shotz.
Last but not least, the 2023 Ego Clash saw Eddy’s Lemons by Anudai Farms (A New Day) take indoor flower gold, with Blue Lobster and Zkittlez not far behind. For outdoor, it was Lemon Cherry Gelato by Terp Mansion, followed by two other winning strains of 2023, LANTZ and Hawaiian Snowcone.
Denver’s Connoisseur Cup brings legacy and licensed operators together under OG scrutiny. The industry side showed loyalty to enduring favorites, including Super Lemon Haze (Super Farm), Gelato (DenRec), and Animal Face Mints (Meraki Brands), while pointing to newer classics like Top Fuel Cherries, Purple Monkey Face Slap, and Grape Cream 2.1. MAC, Zkittlez, and GG#4 also made it to the winners circle.
Rooster Magazine and Media’s THC Classic also scoured hundreds of entries to parse out the fire. Golden Leaf blew the competition away, winning with Lemonhead Delight, Black Maple #22, and Candy Fumez.
The ninth annual Oregon Growers Cup showcases one of the most pot-prolific state’s best greenery. They give laurels to sungrown, indoor, and greenhouse flowers, with a wide range of cultivars in the winners’ circles. For Outdoor, Alter Farms wins with Strawberry Fizz; Artisan Grown cinched Indoor with Candy Rain; Hash Burger grown by Cannassentials sweeps Greenhouse.
The Oregon Leaf Bowl took it a step further with winners designated by terpene profile (Fuel/OG, Purps/Dessert, Exotic Fruit, Citrus, Open) within the three cultivation categories. For Sungrown, WM Ranch won for Fuel and Dessert with Trop Cherry and Ice Cream Cake; Left Coast Standard also doubled up wins in Citrus and Exotic Fruit with Orange Blossom and Juicy Fruit. Greasy Runtz by TrueCare Farms was the wild card.
For indoor flower, we see a Sherbet (Slims/Conception nursery), Tropicana Cherry (Verdant Leaf), Biscotti Pie (High Noon Cult), Garlic Budder (Green Clover Farms), and Grape Stank (LUVLI) rise above the rest. And with mixed light, Real Eve won all but one category with their Super Boof, Chem-lato, Sherb Cake, and Hash Burger; Bald Peak Farm and Chalice Farms nabbed a win with Blueberry Octane.
See also: After a couple years’ hiatus, the High Times Cannabis Cup Oregon: People’s Choice Edition has returned to Oregon—tune in mid-January for the winners!
The Grand Canyon State is making a play to be called the Grand Cannabis State, with over $1 billion in medical and adult-use sales in 2023. They hosted two Errl Cups—the authority in concentrate tastemaking. Spring 2023 saw Peanut Butter Mintz by Aeritz, Alien Labs’ Biskante, and Lemon Meringue by Genesis Bioceuticals crowned. A SOTY runner-up, Super Boof, made the podium in both flower and concentrate forms by Mohave Cannabis Co and Glorious Extracts.
For Fall 2023, Shango’s Guava Tangie won for both Sativa Flower and Sativa Non-Solvent Concentrate, with Nirvana’s Mafia Funeral and High Variety’s Kush Mints rounding out the Indica and Hybrid categories. We spied White Rainbows and KY Jealousy by Earths Extracts and Grape Gas rendered by Copperstate Farms in the winners’ circle too.
Consecrated Farms nearly swept the Open Class Flower, with LA Kush Cake, Platinum Garlic, and Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Honorable mention to Ice Cream Cake, the Sungrown winner by Classix.
In neighboring New Mexico, The Growers Circle did double duty, winning Best Indica Flower and Sativa Flower with Homage and Trop Cherries; hvst’s El Chivo #11 took the hybrid crown. Seed Junky made multiple top-three appearances with Pineapple Fruz and Purple Push Pop, a close relative to our 2023 Strain of the Year winner, Permanent Marker.
See also: Judging is currently underway for their 2023 High Times People’s Cup, so stay tuned for the February 5 winners announcement.
New York’s legal cannabis rollout isn’t quite ready for a High Times Cup of their own. But they did host their second annual New York Growers Cup, where dozens of legacy growers competed across a handful of flavor profile categories: Gas, Sweet, Haze, Sour, and Exotic. We saw many strains that we lauded as winning-material take home trophies; Trop Cherry Gas and Tropical Trufflez tied for the Sweet category, with a Sherb x Biscotti x Animal Mints clearing the Gas lane. Green Haze won for its eponymous group, while Sour Royale got the Sour crown, and Kaboom was dubbed the most Exotic.
The Zalympix also landed on the East Coast this year to survey the Northeast’s best buds; a few frontrunners emerged. Zkittles x Zoap by Gotti was best in show, though Maine Trees’ Blue Lobster won Gassiest, Best Terps, and Best Taste. Marijuantauk Gardens won heaviest hitting with Cap Junky (no surprise there), and Sherbanger by Rugged Roots won Best Looking and runner-up for taste. Apples & Bananas was also in the mix.
NECANN has grown from a multistate expo to a regional competition, with cups held in Maine and Boston this year. In Maine, homegrown heroes Maine Trees placed first for Indica Flower with Blue Lobster, while our 2023 Strain of the Year, Permanent Marker, won Indica Flower gold for High Road LLC. Shamanic Roots’ Peach Milano won the sativa category. The best of Boston’s buds went to Northeast Alternatives’ King Garlic Cookies, Ideal Craft Cannabis’ Jokerz, and AMP’s Turbo Diesel.
The first Maryland Home Growers Cup showed us that the Old Line State likes old school cannabis, with the top winner, Orange Velvet, followed by a Northern Lights cross, and—surprise!—Blue Dream.
See also: Results from Massachusetts’ next annual High Times Cannabis Cup People’s Choice Edition are out in January.
Michiganders like their weed savory and fruity. Their High Times Cup was two-pronged for medical and adult use, which means twice the winners. MI Loud Farms won on both sides, with Garlic Cocktail and Kush Mints. Blue Skunk by High Level Health, Society C’s Spritzer, New Lyfe’s Gogurtz, and Dutch Touch Genetics’ Mr. Clean took flower gold as well. Cap Junky and Moonbow #12 were also in the mix.
Greenwolf’s Zalympix came to Detroit this year to sniff out the fire. Rkive’s Candy Fumes won Best Overall and Best Tasting, and Lightsky Farms’s Titty Sprinkles, third overall, also nabbed both Gassiest and Best Terps. Sherb Pie by Peninsula Gardens was the Best runner-up, with their Cap Junky hitting the heaviest.
Also in the Midwest, Illinois’ High Times Cannabis Cup (People’ Choice) showcased a mix of national and niche, with winners that spanned from Jack Herer (RYTHM) to Cobra Milk (nuEra), and Slapz (also RYTHM).
Cannabis in the middle of the United States is anything but mid. Missouri hit the ground running with their adult-use industry, primed to judge the best of the best. The Missouri Growers Cup chose Blueberry Muffin by Green Thumb Grow Pro for the Grow Master award, with Elevate’s Gary Poppins winning best flower, and Tropicana Cherries emerging as the Home Grown winner.
In Oklahoma, the judges of the Cowboy Cup crowned Mac 1 by Savage Organics and Very Good Grows’ Candy Apple for best sungrown and indoor flower, respectively, with some Kush Mints and Larry Bird (that’s Gelato) runners up; finalists include Tropicana Cherry, Super Boof, Pure Michigan, and Jungle Pie.
Over in Montana, Cup Fest judges chose 710 MT’s Mega Runtz as Best in Show and Best Hybrid flower; Collective Elevation won Indica with Donny Burger and Awesome Blossom’s Fruity Pebbles OG was crowned Best Sativa.