Emerald Family Farms Takes the High Road

Emerald Family Farms Logo
Emerald Family Farms, Humboldt County


Humboldt County’s Emerald Family Farms is both a conglomeration of cannabis growers, featuring more than 200 member farms, and a brand name manufacturer of quality, top shelf cannabis products. The company takes great care in growing and nurturing its plants to harvest and features a number of well-known, highly rated strains. Emerald Family Farms manufactures concentrates, edibles, pre-rolls, twax joints, and an assortment of fruit flavor vape cartridges, and distributes them, along with pre-packaged flower, in stylish, colorful packaging, throughout California.

From its humble horticultural beginnings in 2015, the Arcata-headquartered company has been  involved proactively in cannabis industry politics, helping craft the initial draft of the first “comprehensive cannabis ordinance in California,” and creating appropriate, meaningful, safe and accountable cannabis business practices. Emerald Family Farms understands that regional farmers must find common ground and work together or “be marginalized,” so they built a business based on cooperation and have taken an active role in the political, environmental, social and cultural aspects of the California cannabis industry.

As an ethical and responsible cannabis company, Emerald Family Farms has also pledged to uphold a code of conduct centered around respect for the land that yields the crop, respect for the people who care for and consume the crop, and respect for the crop, or plant, itself. Emerald Family Farms was the first in California to seek land use grow permits out of concern for the neighboring woods, watershed and biosphere. It was also the first California farm “to enroll in the regional water board program, acquire the correct Department of Fish and Wildlife permits, and…get the relevant Cal Fire permits,” enabling it to produce what it proudly calls “Salmon Safe Cannabis.” The company not only practices its values but has committed to “protect these core values of the cannabis movement, and…ensure that these values are the guiding principles of the new legal cannabis industry.” 

Emerald Family Farms, 2006
In 2006, 5,000 feet of Cultivation. EFF Expected to Grow to 30,000 feet. Photo by Andrew Goff

Emerald Family is committed to crafting a prize-worthy cannabis product line, and they have earned accolades for their brand, but they are also intimately invested in “working with smaller farmers to help them cross the hurdles of state compliance.” Emerald Family Farms self-identifies as a “California compliant cannabis distributor” and as an industry leader and model of regulatory assimilation, understands the need for growers, manufacturers and dispensaries to work together within the legal boundaries governing cannabis commerce to protect the integrity of the trade and the rights of business owners. Emerald sees a wealth of “opportunities in the California regulatory market” and understands the need for responsible business practices to ensure the legal cannabis industry’s long-term survival.

Because of its diverse makeup of growers and partners, Emerald Family Farms is able to involve itself in many areas of the cannabis industry without losing focus on its mission. Political and ethical proclivities aside, the Emerald Family Farms brand relies on the successful production, marketing and distribution of its cannabis and cannabis products, and depends on the placement of those products on dispensary shelves to attain public recognition and achieve commercial success. Emerald Family Farms manufactures and distributes a wide range of products and varieties including thirty-six different flower strains (they are “packaging new strains, daily”), sixteen strains of live resin, sauce and crumble extracts, nine pre-roll strains, about thirteen twax joint strains/combinations, ten different fruit flavored single-use vape cartridges and, in partnership with Humboldt Chocolate, a trio of edible chocolate varieties. In a 2015 High Times video, Emerald’s founder and co-owner, Patrick Murphy, recounted Emerald Family Farms’ mission to bring their business, and the cannabis industry, “to the next level,” by making inroads into more mainstream venues such as organic farmers markets.

Whether through political activism, environmental responsibility or the manufacture and distribution of top shelf cannabis, Emerald Family Farms has accomplished much for itself and the legal cannabis industry in California. They’ve also received many industry awards including top prizes at the Golden Tarps Contest, the Emerald Cup, Humboldt Cup, High Times, Hempcon, and many other competitions throughout California. But the character of the company that shines through on its website suggests that they aren’t in the business to win trophies. If asked what they identify as their most meaningful contribution to the state’s cannabis industry, the principals at Emerald Family Farms would probably cite its work “lowering the barriers of entry into the legal cannabis market for farmers” by lobbying for “the lowest tax rate on products in the state,” providing cannabis farmers with “a legal route of sales.” Let’s hope they’re making an impact. For more information about Emerald Family Farms history and role in the legal California cannabis industry, check out their website or this excellent 2016 article in the Lost Coast Outpost.


I first learned of Emerald Family Farms a few weeks ago when I picked up a gram of their Rosetta Stone sauce at a local compliant dispensary, Compassion Union. It is the only Emerald Farms product I’ve been fortunate to sample and it has been an absolute joy. The Rosetta “THC concentrate” sauce is an evenly balanced fifty-fifty hybrid, ideal for daytime dabbing or nighttime twaxing, and is adaptable to most any setting when used thoughtfully. The synergistic pairing of an evenly balanced indica-sativa hybrid with a moderated THC potency (just above 55%) affords the user greater flexibility in controlling the strength of his high. A few modest, mid-morning, low temperature dabs of Rosetta Stone sauce produce a powerful, yet very manageable, energizing, inspiring high, without a hint of paranoia or anxiety. A generous nighttime bowl of potent indica topped off with a dollop of Rosetta Stone sauce fleshes out the concentrate’s calming, relaxing, pain-relieving qualities, facilitating a near-seamless departure to dreamland.

1 gram Rosetta Stone Sauce
1 gram of Emerald Family Farms Rosetta Stone Sauce

Emerald’s Rosetta Stone sauce has a smooth, light consistency, like applesauce or jelly, and an aroma that zings the olfactories with sweetness and spice. The texture is everything you would expect from a concentrate called “sauce,” unlike some others which can be thick, sticky and caramel-like. The underlying Rosetta Stone strain was born of a marriage between a female Ginger Ale hybrid and a male White Widow hybrid, and the concentrate generously retains the sweet aromas of these parental strains. Once exposed to the nose, the odiferous sauce pierces the air with White Widow’s pungent-sweet pine intensity, following in short order with its floral bouquet and Ginger Ale’s berry undertones, then trailing off with a spicy note of Ginger Ale twang. The inert sauce retains all the subtleties of the strain’s terpene brilliance and when dabbed, particularly at lower temperatures, showcases those palatial, aromatic subtleties vividly.

The modest THC content in this Emerald Family Farms sauce is geared toward discretionary dosing, and the more consumed, the more intense the high. A small, half pea-size dab vaped at a relatively low temperature (quartz banger heated by mini-torch, never red hot), yields a few supremely tasty draws, totally smooth, no coughing. The effect is mild, comfortable, happy; an energized cerebral high without any paranoia or anxiety (coffee is a nice accompaniment). It is very easy to carry on regular activities after a low temperature, low dose Rosetta Stone dab, and the return trip is short, subtle and simple. In short, Emerald Family’s sauce is tailor made for microdosing.

The nail-dabbing learning curve teaches that smaller dabs are easier on the lungs, especially if done at lower temperatures, and are also in many ways just as potent as larger doses. The signature difference between smaller and larger dabs is that the larger produce much more heated vapor, filling your lungs and sending you off with a potently disorienting head rush. I set up my dab rig for another run at the Rosetta Stone sauce, putting just a tad larger dab on the end of my tool and increasing the heat to amplify the effect. I scooped up a saucy teardrop on the spoon end of my dab tool and set it down carefully while flipping the safety switch on my large Scorch torch. I brandished the blue flame, firing up the quick-heating quartz bucket for about forty seconds until red hot on the bottom and much of the sides, then counted to twenty and commenced to dab.

EFF Joints
Emerald Family Farms offers a variety of Pre-rolled Flower and Twax Joints

My first takeaway from the hotter dab was genuine surprise at how smooth the draw was in spite of the heat. The vapor was not harsh at all, but this time placed more gustatory emphasis on pine and earthy tones while moderating the floral, citrus and berry accents. The sauce’s vapor was heavier, with more generous draws, and while the low temp dab had me bouncing around from task to task, the hot dab took hold of my head and cascaded along the contours of my corpulence until my whole body was in a cozy cocoon. My senses softened into a pliable permeability allowing sights and sounds to traverse my sentience without disturbing my cogitative flow. I was energized on the inside, as with the cooler dab, but now also swaddled in a warm, close fitting blanket, or bubble, allowing me to feel the full effects of the concentrate without feeling vulnerable to external stimuli.

Emerald Family Farms Rosetta Stone sauce in its full potency provides the user with a number of positive, qualitative effects. It supports alertness and activity, relaxes tense muscles and alleviates stress, is intensely calming, uplifting, positive and motivating, and produces a carefully balanced body-stoned / head-high experience. As I sat writing at my computer, thoughts echoed in my mind like light conversation, while the monitor speakers in front of me spelled out the morning news. I could hear the news, yet felt totally and blissfully detached from it. I felt a bit like I was in a flying saucer. A Swedish Flying Saucer, most appropriately. Concerns of the day floated by as time hid itself away from the immediacy of the surrounding sensory stimulation and from my thoughts. Although it was only Monday morning, it felt like Saturday and that Saturday morning wake-and-bake feeling of timelessness and infinitude, when you’re all but convinced the most relaxing of morning moments will endure with a conservation of momentum, never really coming to a stop. A great feeling, even if fleeting. One feeling I did not have was hunger. No munchies at all.

Of the various conditions for which I medicate with cannabis, anxiety was most ameliorated by Emerald’s Rosetta sauce. All paranoia and nervous energy were washed away and I was hyper-focused on the moment, yet relaxed enough to allow for a smoothly gliding stream of consciousness. The only unpleasantness was an unexpected loud noise, the telephone ringing, which momentarily yanked me from my blissful repose. What this suggests to me is that Emerald Family Farms Rosetta Stone sauce is best potently consumed somewhere with a lack of unexpected, loud interruptions. Take a portable vape or dab device with you to the beach or on a moderate hike in the hills, and you’ll feel right at home, without the interruptions.

EFF Medible bites
Emerald Family Farms Medibles: Chocolate Bites in Partnership with Humboldt Chocolate

I’m eagerly anticipating my next encounter with one of Emerald Family Farms cannabis products, another sauce, perhaps, like White Tahoe Cookies or Alien OG. In such a rapidly evolving cannabis industry, with so many noncompliant, fly-by-night companies, and so many untested products, and with little brand consistency from dispensary to dispensary, it is essential to discover quality, ethical, responsible, reliable companies and products. These are the companies that will survive the chaos of legal implementation, grow their businesses and brands, and become commercial and industry mainstays in the months and years to come. I gladly include Emerald Family Farms on my list of reliable cannabis producers and look forward to their growth and to finding more of their products on local dispensary shelves. Emerald Family Farms has the right approach by looking toward the horizon and taking the time and care to navigate a safe and responsible journey to full compliance, while helping other local cannabis businesses along the way.

Primitive Zippo
Doing high dives into the California cannabis industry, cannabis culture, cannabis-friendly music and anything else cannabis-related residing in the vast expanse of my turgid cranium.

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