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Dec 27, 2021

Wowie Zowie! Cannabis Judging At 2022 State Fair!

Forget the 4H Club: This is agriculturally significant

By Ed Goldman

As the year comes to a crashing conclusion, I’m already looking ahead to the 2022 California State Fair. I’m neither into the cranium-rattling rides nor the artery-clogging food—and especially not going on those rides after eating that food—but I always enjoy the art show and student industrial exhibits.

This year promises something that ought to generate an even higher level of excitement: an award for the best flower at the inaugural cannabis competition.

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“The submission window for all licensed cannabis cultivators” for the state-sanctioned competition closes in March, according to a story by Jake Abbott in the Sacramento Business Journal. “Cannabis joins the California State Fair’s roster of food and drink competitions, which include wine, craft beer, cheese and olive oil.”

Anyone who thinks things don’t change is not only asleep at the wheel but also crumpled up comatose in the parking lot. Or just incredibly stoned.

Because when you think about the traditions and stereotypes of state fairs, images of hog-rating and -calling contests come to mind—not to mention eager-faced 4H students, carousels, giant slides, pie-eating contests, pie bake-offs, tunnels of love, brewskis, corndogs and petting zoos. 

And let’s not forget carny games like penny tosses and shooting galleries, which you’re as likely to win as you are while playing roulette against a Frenchman wearing an eyepatch and white dinner jacket at the Venetian Macao Casino in China.

But a weed-off? Pick your reaction: 

(a) This isn’t your father’s state fair;

(b) This isn’t even your father’s estranged brother-in-law’s state fair;

(c) Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore;

(d) Toto, I think Jupiter may be trying to assassinate us—oh, wait. It was just a butterfly.  

“Certified cannabis and hemp-testing facility SC Labs will be in charge of scoring the competition by testing each plant variety for chemical data,” according to the aforementioned article.  “The report will identify specific cannabinoids and other chemicals and their levels of concentrations in the samples provided.”

There’s an interesting phrase in that sentence: “levels of concentrations.” Meaning, if the pot has those, it can be a winner. But if its product testers still have any levels of concentration thereafter, it’s inferior.

I suppose rating weed in the way that expensive beers, coffee, whiskeys and wines are rated is okay. I imagine that if you tack the word “artisan” onto sparkling water or a package of pimento loaf, you’ll get a little sales uptick. (I should mention that I was dissuaded from calling this column “hand-crafted” by my good-taste consultant, Ella Gantry.)

Having sat through too many gaseous talks by wine and coffee experts who extol the virtues of their respective subjects in somewhat embarrassing terms—for example, I’ve heard them tout “a heroic wine” and “a beautiful coffee”—I’m wondering if the same hyperbole will extend to the judges’ remarks on cannabis. Two possible critiques:

– “The cannabinoids were fanciful and fulfilling. I regressed to a past life in which I was either Napoleon pre-Elba or a barmaid in Bristol. Most satisfying. And the latter had me believing I received several Bitcoins in tips.”

– “A lovely rush that evoked memories of my childhood in Wales and close friendship with the poet Dylan Thomas. Since I’m actually from Ding Dong, Texas—a real city in, of all places, Bell County—you can imagine my sense of excitement and belief I would earn time-travel credits toward my next astral projection.”

In closing, I’d like to offer my best wishes to the competition’s entrants and a sincere reminder that they’ve entered a competition.   

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).