New Yorkers smoked so much weed at this year's State Fair that officials are considering imposing new pot smoking regulations on next year's event.
Shortly before the Fair opened its doors in August, a spokesperson for the event confirmed that fairgoers could smoke weed in any outdoor public space. The Fairgrounds updated this smoking policy to reflect the Empire State's new adult-use law, which makes it legal to smoke cannabis anywhere that tobacco use is permitted.
As soon as the Fair kicked off, the outdoor areas soon became thick with the dank aroma of weed. Being able to get high at the event definitely boosted the fun factor for many guests, but families with young children in tow were less than enthused about walking through thick clouds of pot smoke. By the end of the Fair, state officials had received more than a few complaints about the new pot smoking policy.
To be fair, the promise of smoking a fat joint and hopping on the Tilt-A-Whirl may have been one of the main factors that brought people out to the event in the first place. Even though the 2021 State Fair was open for 18 days instead of its usual 13-day run, only 798,095 people showed up this year, the lowest attendance since 1985. This year's fair also had the lowest daily average attendance of any year since 1941.
In order to address these concerns, new Governor Kathy Hochul agreed to support State Fair Director Troy Waffner's decision to return next year's fair to a 13-day event. Hochul also directed the state Department of Agriculture and Markets to review all fairs in the state. And as part of the review, the department will also reconsider the State Fair's new cannabis policy.
Waffner told The Auburn Citizen that public weed smoking was definitely “an issue this year.... I do agree with everybody who said we have to do something to try to control the smoking of marijuana around kids and families because this is a family event.”
director said that leaving the Fair's current weed policy in effect was not “a realistic thing to do.” Officials are thinking about completely banning cannabis from next year's fair, but the prospect of setting aside a designated pot-smoking area seems to be gaining more ground. Six Flags Darien Lake and other New York amusement parks ban all public smoking outside of designated smoking areas, and Waffner believes that a dedicated weed smoking area could be the most “fair way of addressing” the issue.
Officials have not announced a timeline for when they will make this decision, but Governor Hochul has announced that the 2022 State Fair will run from August 24th until Labor Day, September 5th.