Cannabis plants are now on display to the public at the Oregon State Fair, a first for any state fair in the US. Cannabis advocates are calling it a monumental step in the destigmatisation of the drug.
Oregon, which legalised recreational marijuana in November 2014, has since enjoyed a booming industry. There are now over 400 licenced pot retailers in the state and sales contributed $25 million in tax revenue in the first half of 2016. Last year’s state fair, a traditionally family-friendly event, featured a cannabis display but no living plants. However, after 6 months of negotiations, this year’s feature living plants for anyone over 21 to view.
The Oregon Cannabis Business Council, who are sponsoring the exhibit, chose which plants to present at a live cannabis competition at the Oregon cannabis growers’ fair two weeks ago. First, second and third place in each of the three categories (indica, sativa and hybrids) make up the nine plants that are making history. They were judged on their colour, aroma, shape of leaves and overall health. Donald Morse, director of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council said: “Cannabis is taking its rightful place next to tomatoes and other agriculture.”
The plants on show are all immature and yet to flower. Cannabis leaves are far less potent than the flowers and it is not yet legal to transport flowering plants within the state. However, Morse said that the Council hopes to display flowering pot plants next year.
While this might raise eyebrows for some, as weed is still illegal in 46 out of the 50 states in America, the people of Oregon seem unperturbed. One viewer, Gavin Reiter, said: “It’s not much of a surprise, honestly, to see it at the state fair, because its everywhere. Plus, you can just go down to the store and buy it if you want some.” Many Seybert, a pot farmer who has a plant on display at the fair, believes it Is only a matter of time before cannabis “is treated like any other plant – just like someone’s prized daisy”.
People will be able to view the plants from the 26th August to September 5th in Salem.
Words by Abbie Llewelyn. Tweets @Abbiemunch