Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jul 2016
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2016 Los Angeles Times
Author: Rick Anderson


Marijuana Growers Will Compete for Blue Ribbons in Oregon, Another 
Indicator of Cannabis' Booming Reputation As Cash Crop

SEATTLE - To the list of breakthroughs in an ever-changing world 
where cars drive themselves, faces are surgically transplanted and 
Russian hackers are accused of manipulating the U.S. presidential 
campaign, add this development: marijuana growers can now compete for 
blue ribbons in the state fair.

That's what Oregon officials say will happen at their fair in Salem 
next month. Besides tastiest apple pie and plumpest pig, pot will be 
judged for its finer attributes, including color, aroma, leaf 
structure and lack of pests.

The top growers will become the nation's first-ever winners of a 
state fair ribbon honoring a farm crop outlawed by the federal 
government. For some, the contest effectively adds another H to the 
4-H Club: Herb.

"We regularly reach out to the community with some form of education, 
to de-stigmatize the industry and the plant," Don Morse, chair of the 
Oregon Cannabis Business Council, told this week. "For the 
people at the state fair to let this happen is really groundbreaking."

The inclusion of marijuana in a state fair speaks to its suddenly 
booming reputation as a cash crop and its growers as the future 
farmers of America, at least in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, 
and Washington, D.C., where, since 2012, voters have approved legal 
recreational use of marijuana. It remains illegal in the eyes of the 
federal government.

California and Nevada are among eight states set to vote on 
legalization this fall. Marijuana Business Daily predicts legal pot 
could become an $8-billion industry in two years.

Overseeing the Oregon fair's panel of judges - and helping sample 
entries - will be Ed Rosenthal, the 71year-old Guru of Ganja, as he 
calls himself. The Oakland publisher, activist and author will help 
the panel pick nine winners at a pre-fair elimination contest to be 
held at the fairgrounds Aug. 13-14.

More than 60 growers are expected to showcase their "live" cannabis 
plants at that event, the Oregon Cannabis Fair. Three winners in each 
of three categories based on plant types - sativa, indica and hybrids 
- - will be awarded ribbons and their prize-winning plants put on 
display at the state fair starting Aug. 26.

Morse, the council chair, says the weed winners and runners-up will 
receive traditional fair ribbons - blue, purple or yellow.

All plants have to be in vegetative (nonflowering) form, according to 
an entry form. The state fair exhibit will be displayed in a 
greenhouse and monitored by a security guard. Visitors must be 21 or older.

"We are not promoting the use of cannabis," Morse told the Oregonian. 
"We are there to show plants to people over 21 what award-winning 
cannabis plants look like."

And no, marijuana smoking will not be allowed, he added.
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