Pubdate: Sun, 21 Aug 2016
Source: Garden Island (Lihue, HI)
Copyright: 2016 Associated Press


SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Nine living marijuana plants will be displayed at 
the Oregon State Fair in a first of its kind event for the United 
States starting next Friday.

The exhibit of the nonflowering, immature plants brings pot 
cultivation more into the agricultural mainstream less than two years 
after Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana. The Oregon 
Cannabis Business Council, which organized the exhibit, says it's the 
first time live cannabis will be shown at a state fair anywhere in the U.S.

The group last year had an booth about marijuana at the fair and 
there were no complaints - a key factor in allowing them to go one 
step further and offer live plants for viewing this year, said Dan 
Cox, spokesman for the Oregon State Fair.

The specimens were selected by judges at a competition last weekend 
who chose three winners each in the sativa, indica and hybrid categories.

The entire exhibit will be housed in a translucent tent and extra 
security will be on hand to check identification so only people 21 
and over can enter, Cox said.

None of the plants are allowed have buds, which are more potent than 
the leaves.

That's because the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which will 
regulate the recreational marijuana business, is still finalizing 
regulations for the nascent industry and it's currently illegal to 
transport a flowering plant, said Donald Morse, director of the 
Oregon Cannabis Business Council.

Those regulations and a licensing process for recreational producers 
are expected by 2017. The industry hopes to have plants with buds at 
the fair next summer.

The event has raised some eyebrows, but Cox said the Oregon State 
Fair has always played a role in displaying the latest and sometimes 
controversial fads in agriculture and state culture. Nearly 20 years 
ago, he said, the fair had an exhibit on tattoo body art that caused 
a similar sensation.

"It is a showcase for traditional things. And yet it's always been a 
show place for the new, the different and the innovative," he said.

Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana in a November 2014 
ballot initiative after medical marijuana was legalized years earlier.

Recreational marijuana remains illegal in 46 states and under federal 
law. But in Oregon, the pot business has been booming.

Anticipated state revenue from recreational marijuana through June 
2017 was recently quadrupled by Oregon's Legislative Revenue Office, 
from $8.4 million to $35 million.

Cox said there aren't plans to expand pot's place at the fair beyond 
the small exhibit, which is in a space rented by industry proponents.

But for weed fans, just getting a place at the table is worth celebrating.

"It's pretty awesome to be judging actual cannabis plants that are 
going to go into a state fair," said Tom Lauerman, one of six judges 
and an organic marijuana grower who was once arrested in a law 
enforcement drug raid targeting pot. "It kind of gives me goosebumps 
even talking about it."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom