California State Fair to Feature Cannabis Sales and Consumption

By: Sam Watanuki | Published: Jun 18, 2024

The 2024 California State Fair is making history by allowing the sale and consumption of marijuana on its grounds.

This groundbreaking event will take place from July 12 to July 28 in Sacramento, marking the first time a state fair in the U.S. has permitted such activities. The move is seen as a significant step towards normalizing and destigmatizing cannabis use.

A Landmark Decision for Cannabis Enthusiasts

Fair planners announced this pioneering decision, emphasizing the importance of destigmatizing cannabis. Lauren Carpenter, co-founder of Embarc, highlighted that this initiative would create a deeper connection between consumers and farmers.

A person holding rolled-up marijuana in their fingers. The marijuana has been lit and there is smoke coming from it.

Source: Ahmed Zayan/Unsplash

Embarc will manage an experiential marijuana dispensary on-site, providing a unique opportunity for fairgoers to purchase and consume cannabis.

Expanding Educational Exhibits and Competitions

The fair will feature an expanded educational cannabis exhibit and a cultivation awards competition.

A photograph of Gavin Newsome

Source: Wikimedia

These initiatives debuted in 2022 and have been made possible through recent legislation signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Showcasing California's Agricultural Diversity

Tom Martinez, the state fair’s CEO, emphasized that the new cannabis offerings would amplify California’s rich agricultural bounty.

Many palm trees seen in the daytime in California.

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By showcasing cannabis alongside staples like wine, cheese, and olive oil, the fair aims to highlight the state’s diverse agricultural landscape. This initiative also provides a platform for farmers from different backgrounds to share their stories and expertise.

A Unique Cannabis Consumption Experience

A new 30,000 sq ft consumption lounge will be a focal point of the fair. Attendees over 21 can sample products from award-winning farms and brands, creating an immersive and educational experience.

A room with lights and marijuana plants growing underneath them.

Source: Richard T/Unsplash

The lounge aims to provide a safe and controlled environment for cannabis consumption, enhancing the overall fair experience for visitors.

Growing Public Support for Cannabis Legalization

Public support for cannabis legalization has been steadily increasing. A Gallup poll last fall revealed that 70% of U.S. adults now support legalizing marijuana, a significant rise from about 30% in 2000.

Marijuana that has been rolled up.

Source: Elsa Olofsson/Unsplash

This shift in public opinion reflects a broader acceptance of cannabis, particularly among younger generations, and paves the way for more events like the California State Fair.


Cannabis Reclassification on the Horizon

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is considering reclassifying cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug.

Lawyer fills out paperwork on a desk with a judges gavel beside him

Source: Freepik

This reclassification would place cannabis alongside legal but restricted substances like ketamine and Tylenol with codeine, rather than with illegal drugs like heroin and LSD. This potential change could further normalize cannabis use nationwide.


A Step Towards Responsible Normalization

Lauren Carpenter of Embarc believes that the state fair’s cannabis initiatives represent a major step forward for responsible normalization.

Dried marijuana flowers against a white background.

Source: Avery Meeker/Unsplash

By facilitating direct engagement between consumers and cannabis brands, the fair aims to transform public understanding of the plant. This approach aligns with broader efforts to integrate cannabis into mainstream society responsibly.


Engaging with Award-Winning Cannabis Brands

James Leitz, the executive producer of the cannabis exhibit and competition, expressed his hope that the fair would provide patrons with the opportunity to engage directly with winning brands.

A zoomed-in image of the green leaves of marijuana plants.

Source: Jeff W/Unsplash

This interaction is expected to enhance the fairgoers’ understanding and appreciation of cannabis, contributing to a more informed and accepting public.


A Record-Breaking Year for Entries

The expanded cannabis competition has drawn more than 500 entries this year, double the amount from 2023. The competition now includes new categories such as pre-rolls, concentrates, and beverages.

Clear glass jars with marijuana flowers inside. A person is rolling some marijuana.

Source: Wesley Gibbs/Unsplash

This surge in participation reflects the growing interest and investment in the cannabis industry, highlighting its importance in California’s agricultural sector.


Promoting Sustainable Cannabis Practices

The fair will also emphasize sustainable cannabis cultivation practices. With environmental concerns at the forefront, the fair aims to showcase methods that minimize energy use and water consumption.

A marijuana plant.

Source: Matthew Brodeur/Unsplash

By promoting sustainability, the fair hopes to address some of the criticisms surrounding the environmental impact of cannabis cultivation.


Anticipating a Historic Event

With about 590,000 attendees in 2023, the California State Fair is anticipating another successful year. The integration of cannabis sales and consumption is expected to draw significant attention and participation.

Dried cannabis flowers in a clear glass jar.

Source: Johannes Simon/Getty Images

As the fair prepares to open in July, it stands as a shining example of the evolving landscape of cannabis legalization and its growing acceptance in mainstream society.