August 2, 2016
No summer is complete without a trip to the State Fair! This year Oregon residents will have a new reason to look forward to the fair, where this year’s slogan is “Here Comes the Fun”. The top nine cannabis plants selected during the first phase of competition will be presented at the Oregon State Fair for all to see. The first phase will run from August 13-14 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. This first ever Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair has attracted over 100 cultivators to sign up who will compete in three separate categories: indica, sativa, & hybrid. Before you get too excited, these plants will be for looking and not for smoking. This is a cultivators soiree as the sponsors want it to be “an opportunity to bring the entire industry under one roof to learn from ‘master growers.’” This “first-ever cannabis live plant competition” in American history at a US state fair will feature live cannabis plants, and award blue ribbons to the winning plants in each class “4-H” style. There will be a total of $10,000 in prizes awarded during the competition. The Oregon State Fair will run from August 26 through September 5.
The competing plants will be judged on color, shape and structure, node stacking, leaf structure, aroma, general health and lack of pests. Don Morse, the chairman of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, explained the 4-H system saying, “you get a blue, purple or yellow ribbon. We are celebrating the plant as a farm crop from Oregon.” The location of these plants at the fair is a reflection of our society’s continuing ambivalence to cannabis. The fact that cannabis plants are even present at the fair is a testimony to how much our perception of cannabis has changed through the recent years. Interestingly, the regulation of these plants as “a prop of sorts” attached to the Oregon Cannabis Business Council booth. If these cannabis plants were truly looked at in a similar light as the other agricultural crops present, they would be permitted as sanctioned state fair exhibits or part of official agricultural competitions.
This year’s cannabis crop will be found inside an age-restricted security staffed greenhouse. A far cry from out in the open. Only those over the age of 21 will be allowed inside the greenhouse to view the plants. This should still be considered a step forward, as the Colorado State Fair only allowed pictures of cannabis plants in 2014. A sentiment reflected by the Fair’s spokesperson, Dan Cox, saying “folks are kind of enjoying the perceived friction between state fair values and pop culture. It’s a truly diverse fair.” At the fair many people will be able to experience these wonderful cannabis plants in person, and it will be an opportunity to help wash away what is left of the negative stigma. Here’s to hoping next year’s fair has a new cannabis added to the agricultural competition!