“The things you’re usually judging on weren’t there to judge.” Ed Rosenthal, the Guru of Ganja, knows how to evaluate cannabis. He’s been doing it for decades. So when he tells you that the Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair, held August 13 & 14 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, was something historic, you know that it was truly a unique experience.
The first ever exposition and competition for cannabis growers, produced by the Cannabis Collaborative Conference and the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, this event aimed to connect people from all parts of the industry and to provide resources and information about regulations, new technologies and time tested growing methods. The highlight of the weekend was the plant competition, in which all plants were judged in their vegetative state, before flowering. Instead of considering things like the potency, flavor and effect of a bud, judges had to take a more empirical approach. According to Farmer Tom Lauerman, they evaluated the crop just as any other plant might be judged at a State Fair. “We looked at color, shape, node spacing, overall health and leaf structure. [Normally] State Fair judges are going to be looking for symmetrical plants; they’re going to be looking for shape.” While some may prefer the chance to gaze at (or try) cured, potent flower, Farmer Tom was clear that this was a unique exposition for Oregon and for cannabis. “It felt historic. Everyone was alive, on edge, you could feel the energy in the room.”
Judges awarded blue, red and white ribbons, identical to the ones given out at 4-H fairs across the country, in three categories: sativa, indica and hybrid. Uplifted Farms, local growers from Salem and the day’s big winners, took home the blue ribbon for their indica, Grand Daddy Purple, and for their Super Sour Diesel sativa. Home-grower Daniel DeMeulle from Portland won the hybrid prize. In two weeks all the plants will be shown at the Oregon State Fair with the rest of the state’s amazing agriculture, though they’ll be in a guarded green house where only those 21 and older will be allowed to view them. But the fact that these plants can be on display at the State Fair at all is a major step toward normalization, and that message wasn’t lost on anyone who attended the Grower’s Fair.
Samantha Montanaro, the owner of Prism House who helped organize the event, said you could feel the enthusiasm building well before over 60 plants arrived on the expo floor. “Working toward this was really something. Our excitement about this event and what it is doing for cannabis normalization made it easy to get others excited too. The look of joy and thrill on people’s faces…it happened. We did it. We have cannabis plants going on display at the State Fair and I’m proud to be an Oregonian.”
Even Ed Rosenthal, lifelong activist and grower, sensed how special the day was: “I think people felt like they were living history.”
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