The California State Fair Will Host Its First Ever Cannabis Competition in 2022
Instead of picking a winner based on aroma, taste, or high, the State Fair competition will base its judgments on scientific analyses of cannabinoid and terpene content.
Published on September 23, 2021

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California's legal weed growers will get a shot at having their bud named the “Best of California” at the 2022 State Fair.

Officials just announced that next year’s annual event, which will be held at the Cal Expo Fairgrounds in Sacramento from July 10th to 16th, 2022, will host the first-ever CA State Fair Cannabis Competition and Awards. The competition is open to any state-licensed cannabis producer, and entrants will be divided into three different categories based on whether the plants were grown inside, outside, or with mixed light.

“We are pleased to celebrate California’s legal and licensed cannabis industry as part of the CA State Fair in 2022,” said California Exposition & State Fair Board of Director Jess Durfee in a press release. “For the past 166 years, the CA State Fair has always been a first mover, leading the State Fair circuit with innovative programming and large-scale competitions that celebrate the best the state has to offer, making the addition of cannabis cultivation a natural new category.”

Unlike most other cannabis competitions, which evaluate weed on its aroma, flavor, and high, the State Fair's judges are taking a more scientific approach. Each submission will undergo a scientific analysis by state-licensed cannabis testing facility SC Labs. The analysis will identify the concentrations of seven different cannabinoids and terpenes and test for pesticides, mold, and other contaminants.

“Instead of sorting entries by Indica, Sativa, Hybrid, we will celebrate the chemistry of the plant,” the competition website explains. “Chemotype profiles offer a better method of organizing cannabis strains and predicting effects and organoleptic (aroma/flavor) attributes.”

Each applicant will need to cough up $420 to get their samples analyzed by SC Labs, plus another $250 to enter the competition. Applications will be accepted between November 1st, 2021 until March 30th, 2022. In May, the judges will award 77 bronze, silver, and gold medals to the bud that has the highest concentrations of each specific cannabinoid and terpene. Seven lucky winners will receive the “Best in California” Golden Bear trophy, and the judges will also award Exotics medals to flower with “unique, off-the-charts terpene profiles.”

“I’m really excited to be involved with the state fair because it is the traditional place where the agricultural community comes to show off their best work,” said SC Labs Co-founder and President Josh Wurzer in a statement. “This just further validates cannabis as part of that community. As a cannabis scientist, it’s really cool to see an event like this putting the data and analytics at the forefront of the process. It’s making a big leap forward for the application of quantitative cannabis testing to actually measure the qualitative aspects of cannabis.”

But even though fairgoers will be able to see which companies win the Golden Bear trophies, they won't actually be able to sample the winning bud at the event. In fact, the fair continues to ban all sales and use of cannabis products on the fairgrounds, even though weed has been legal in the state for nearly five years now.

On the East Coast, meanwhile, New York has already held one weed-friendly State Fair, even though the Empire State only legalized weed six months ago. Since public pot smoking is legal in New York, officials allowed fairgoers to get high in outdoor areas of the fairgrounds. Unfortunately, the thick clouds of pot smoke drew so many complaints from families that officials may consider banning or limiting public weed smoking next year.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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