State fairs, with their deep fried Jell-O, giant vegetables and prize heifers, are as American as it gets.
Which makes this year's Oregon State Fair something of a milestone. It seems cannabis, recreationally legal since July 2015 by order of the state Legislature, has its own special tent and judge. Of course, there’s a guard at the door checking IDs; cannabis is, after all, illegal for minors.
But the goal of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council is to see it normalized, and the group's hope is that it’ll eventually be judged alongside other agricultural products, like gargantuan watermelons and child-sized squash.
These plants, separated by strain — indica, sativa, hybrid— have been evaluated by Ed Rosenthal, the self-dubbed Ganja Guru, who analyzed the 60-odd submissions for leaf color and flowering. (We might suggest a few other criteria.)
Cannabis has become a big business in Oregon. Vice reported that the state’s 400 legal pot retailers contributed around $25M in tax revenue last year.
Speaking to NPR, Don Morse of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council said, "My goal today is to have someone walk through that's never seen it, or heard how it's made or grown or anything like that, and say, 'I don't see what the big deal is.' "
Still, with hippy-fied names like Grandaddy Purple and Super Sour Diesel, there’s another way for cannabis to become normalized: Growers could pluck a page out of the vintners' handbook.
No one thinks a vintner is a wino, though many winemakers do drink excessively. That’s because there’s a respectability to the labels and names of the wines themselves. You’re not a drunk; you’re just an aficionado.
Perhaps if growers stopped naming their strains like some bong-fueled brain fart it’d be easier to see them in a new light.
Whitaker Blues, which took the Fair's first prize for hybrid strain, is a step in the right direction.