By John Winston
13 August 2016
Oregon on Saturday hosted its first-ever fair devoted to growers of cannabis, a sign that the substance is obtaining increasing acceptance within the mainstream.
“It’s nice for us to be stepping across the line and say, ‘Here we are, and we’re ready to do business,'” said James Knox, owner of Savant Plant Technologies in Corvallis. “For those of us who have been doing this a long time, this is a breath of fresh air because we’re able to work openly and in the light.”
The two-day event — dubbed the Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair — was held at an exhibition hall on the Oregon State Fairgrounds in the state capital of Salem. According to Donald Morse, the founder of the event, attendance at the fair was strong and included more than 80 exhibitors.
Among the winners of the fair’s cannabis-plant competition, nine will be featured in two weeks at the Oregon State Fair, alongside other more conventional features, such as tomatoes and horses.
The groundbreaking nature of the fair was not lost on organizers and attendees.
“It is an historic event. It’s a great opportunity to meet these growers that typically were underground,” said Mary Lou Burton, an organizer of the fair. “We’re trying to get people connected up and networking.”
Oregon — which is one of four states nationwide that allows for the legal cultivation and use of recreational cannabis — legalized the substance via ballot initiative in 2014.
The legal cannabis industry has thus far provided Oregon with a financial windfall: According to the state’s Legislative Revenue Office, the state now expects roughly $35 million in net state tax revenues from the sale of cannabis through the end of June 2017. That represents a quadrupling of initial estimates.