Pubdate: Fri, 26 Aug 2016
Source: Guardian, The (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited
Author: Lauren Dake


New Ground Broken by Oregon Agricultural Show Growers Look to 
Product's Potential As Cash Crop

This week Nathan Martinez's family will head to the Oregon state fair 
to view the prizewinning plants he has hydroponically grown and 
lovingly cultivated: both the sativa super sour diesel and the indica 
granddaddy purple.

Oregon legalised the recreational use of cannabis by over-21s two years ago

For the first time, the fair, one of the country's most 
family-friendly traditions - synonymous with the tilt-a-whirl, funnel 
cake and blue ribbon pigs - is to feature marijuana plants.

"Cannabis is taking its rightful place next to tomatoes and other 
agriculture," said Don Morse, of the Oregon cannabis business council.

But, unlike the tomatoes, the marijuana plants will be seen only by 
those aged 21 and older. And the plants will be guarded by security.

Mandy Seybert, 28, a pot farmer who will have a plant on display at 
the Oregon fair, believes it is simply a matter of time before 
cannabis "is treated like any other plant - just like someone's prized daisy".

To determine which nine marijuana plants would make history at the 
state fair in Salem, there was another first: a live cannabis 
competition, earlier this month, at the Oregon cannabis growers' fair.

In some ways, the growers' fair was similar to any business expo: 
vendors pitched their wares, including DIY potgrowing kits and 
child-resistant bags for storing buds. At one of the larger vendor 
booths Katie Joy, 24, assured a customer looking at her vaporisers 
that they were discreet and "perfect for a river day". Joy also 
pointed out that although the products were "gender neutral" she had 
"male and female colour schemes" available. A gregarious 44-year-old, 
"Stony" Tony Black, sported a white T-shirt that read "God grew it. I 
smoke it. That settles". He said the expo was great for selling his 
cleaning products for glass pipes.

There was one quiet, lonely-looking stand staffed by a Frito-Lay 
representative, hoping to convince marijuana store owners to stock 
the company's salty snacks.

Meanwhile the dozens of marijuana plants, some up to 35cm (14in) 
high, were collecting ribbons. Prizes for first, second and third 
places were awarded for each of the three varieties put up for 
judging. There was indica, which produces the type of body high which 
brings on the "munchies" (experts say to think of it as "in da 
couch"), sativa, which has a more energetic, uplifting high, and the hybrids.

Ed Rosenthal was the contest's head judge. Carrying a clipboard and 
wearing a black shirt decorated with green marijuana plants, 
Rosenthal, known as the guru of ganja, evaluated each plant on 
colour, aroma, leaf shape and overall health. The plants were judged 
before they flowered; the type of drug they would produce was not a 
factor in the overall score. Rosenthal said his priority was "helping 
cannabis socialise into the mainstream".

Oregon voters legalised recreational marijuana in 2014 for adults 
from the age of 21. The state has long allowed the use of marijuana 
for medical reasons.

Among the hopefuls was 63-year-old Peggy Anderson, who had retired 
from her job at the Portland Business Alliance to open a pot-growing 
operation with her son. Anderson said she had "never felt healthier". 
She walked three miles a day and could vouch for her own product. She 
believed the industry was poised to be the next cash crop.

"If you think about Oregon and the agricultural industry, in the 
Willamette valley we're primed to do just as well as the wine 
industry," said Anderson, who brought an indica strain called So 
Mango to display.

Mary Lou Burton, one of the key organisers of the event, was 
envisioning a craft cannabis industry, perhaps - in classic Portland 
style - artisanal pot. She judged the growers' fair a success, 
despite having to field many phone calls . "A lot of our exhibitors 
are stoners, so they call and say, "when is the fair again?"

Martinez and his business partner, Danny Grimm, who own Uplifted, a 
cannabis farm, took home two blue ribbons and were ecstatic about the 
forthcoming state fair. "To display my plants in public is a dream 
come true," Grimm said. It was not that long ago, he added, that they 
"would have picked up a couple of felonies" for the plants.

Amy Egli, a kindergarten teacher, and partner Pete, a dairy worker, 
were at the expo to support their son, a grower. They were not 
marijuana users. "We grew up in a world that was very different," 
Pete said. "I'm still like, oh my god, it's going to be at the state fair."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom