The Cannifornian’s lead writer, graphic designer and website were recognized with a first-place win in the Best of the West journalism contest, honoring the top reporting in the western United States.

Writer Brooke Edwards Staggs and graphic designer Kurt Snibbe — who are based at the Orange County Register — together tied for first place in the contest’s Explanatory Reporting category for their work covering the recreational marijuana legalization movement in California throughout 2016.

“In a powerhouse category, the Orange County Register’s examination of the legalization of recreational cannabis in California stands out as a remarkable multimedia accomplishment, providing clear and concise explanation on every conceivable element of Prop 64, its implementation and its effects,” a judge for the contest wrote. “Readers learn how the law provides legal protections to medical marijuana users who risked losing parental rights and how a migraine-suffering reporter obtained her medical marijuana card. There are infographics, a video, Facebook Live and the fantastic website”

The judge added: “Reporter Brooke Edwards Staggs is clearly among the nation’s preeminent reporters on this subject.”

The Best of the West contest recognizes winners in 26 different categories, from breaking news reporting to feature photography. It’s open to newspapers, magazines and news websites in the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, attracting roughly 1,000 entries each year.

The Explanatory Reporting category recognizes a package of stories that “examines a significant and complex subject in depth, enabling readers to put news concerning it into a more meaningful context.”

Staggs and Snibbe tied with a duo from the Arizona Republic who wrote about deficiencies in campus crime reporting, with both packages honored for the “depth and breadth of reporting, writing quality, timeliness, clarity, completeness, balance and community importance.”