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California State Fair Will Allow Marijuana Sales And On-Site Consumption For First Time



This year’s California State Fair will make history, with marijuana sales and on-site consumption being allowed for the first time.

While the annual fair has featured cannabis competitions and educational booths in recent years, this will be the first time that the state-sanctioned event will permit adults to consume and purchase marijuana.

“Hosting cannabis sales and consumption is a groundbreaking milestone in destigmatization by facilitating a deeper connection between consumers and the farmers who cultivate their products with such care,” Lauren Carpenter, co-founder of the cannabis company Embarc, which is the fair’s partner on the expanded marijuana offerings, said in a press release.

At the event, which takes place from July 12-28, adults 21 and older will be able to review different cannabis products, add them to a virtual shopping cart and pick them up at one of Embarc’s off-site dispensaries.

The fair will also feature a 30,000 square foot consumption area.

“This initiative spotlights the significant role of cannabis in California’s agricultural industry, marking a major milestone in the state fair’s 170-year history,” James Leitz, executive producer of the Cannabis Competition and Exhibit, said. “Expanding the competition to include all form factors and providing patrons the opportunity to directly engage with and consume winning brands is transformational for public understanding of the plant.”

While this is a first for California, on-site cannabis use and sales were allowed at the New York State Fair in 2021 after adult-use legalization was enacted. However, the fair stopped permitting public consumption at last year’s event—though attendees could buy marijuana products from nearly a dozen local growers at a cannabis farmers market held in conjunction with the event.

In California, this year’s cannabis awards competition is also being expanded to include product categories other than flower such as pre-rolls, concentrates and edibles. There are more than 500 entries, which is double the number compared to last year.

“The California State Fair took a historic leadership position in 2022 with the introduction of a cannabis exhibit and competition,” Tom Martinez, CEO of the California State Fair, said. “This year, we’ve expanded our offerings to include onsite sales and consumption in a designated area to provide a platform to amplify California’s rich agricultural bounty and facilitate storytelling for farmers from diverse backgrounds and experiences.”

“We have partnered with the City of Sacramento, the State of California, James Leitz and Embarc—alongside our robust onsite public health and safety infrastructure—to ensure a responsible and community-sensitive event,” he said. “We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the state and beyond to this informative experience.”

The California Exhibition & State Fair is an independent state agency established by law under California’s food and agriculture code. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is an ex-officio member of the fair’s board of directors, as are several state lawmakers.

The expanded cannabis features of this year’s fair are made possible in part by a bill that was enacted in 2018, allowing regulators to issue temporary marijuana event licenses in jurisdictions where the local government permits it.

Meanwhile, the California Assembly approved a bill to legalize cannabis cafes in the state last month, sending it to the Senate months after the governor vetoed a previous iteration of the proposal.

The legislation would also allow live musical or other performances on the premises of a cannabis retailer in areas where on-site consumption is allowed.

Separately, bipartisan state lawmakers filed legislation last week to authorize a pilot program that would provide psilocybin treatment to military veterans and first responders.

Bipartisan Pennsylvania Lawmakers Announce Marijuana Legalization Bill As Neighboring Ohio Readies Market Launch Across Border

Photo courtesy of California State Fair.

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