Pubdate: Wed, 19 Jul 2017
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)
Copyright: 2017 The Sacramento Bee
Author: John Holland


California's county fairs -- those wholesome showcases of agricultural
bounty -- could become places to score some pot.

Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed a bill that details how to carry out
the November 2016 ballot measure that legalizes recreational marijuana
as of January 2018. Tucked deep in the text is an option for county
fairs to allow sampling and sales for people 21 and older in
designated spots.

The Stanislaus County Fair has had "minor discussions" among the board
and Chief Executive Officer Matt Cranford about the issue, spokeswoman
Adrenna Alkhas said by email.

"We must always look at our demographics and keep in mind that this is
a family-friendly fair," she said. "Once this takes effect next year,
we will give it thorough thought and see how supportive the public
would be."

Representatives of the Merced and San Joaquin county fairs could not
be reached for comment.

The rules also allow local managers to rent the grounds for
cannabis-themed events at nonfair times of the year.

Voter approval of recreational use has shown how attitudes have
changed about a substance long thought to have little social value.
The 1996 measure allowing medical marijuana helped change many minds.

But the rules assure that people will not be able to indulge just
anywhere, including at the fairgrounds. Don't expect a cannabis booth
anywhere near the 4-H swine barn or the baked-goods exhibits (which by
coincidence include brownies). And a stoned person who tries to drive
home could be arrested by the same police officers who keep watch on
beer drinkers at the fair.

The media has had fun with the image of marijuana users getting the
munchies and exploring the enticing array of fair food. The Fresno Bee
last week imagined "a dramatic increase in funnel cake sales at county
fairs across the state."

That story found various reactions among county fairs in the central
and southern San Joaquin Valley. The Big Fresno Fair is not planning
on any cannabis on its grounds. The Madera District Fair is waiting
for further direction from the state before making a decision. The
same goes for the Kings Fair. The Tulare County Fair is skeptical of
pot at the event but is open to cannabis-specific events at other times.

"It has the potential to bring a lot of problems to the fair," Tulare
CEO Pamela Fyock said. "We work very hard to make sure this is a safe,
family-friendly environment."
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