You can buy and use cannabis at the California State Fair

Published on June 21, 2024 by David Wylie

The scene at a California State Fair Photo: Contributed
A beautiful night at the California State Fair. This year, there will be a large cannabis consumption area and on-site weed sales.

Carnival rides, deep fried foods, live music, and livestock competitions are all staples at the fair. This year, California will add a new attraction: the ability to buy and use cannabis on site—for the first time ever at a state fair.

Celebrating its 170th anniversary, the California State Fair in Sacramento will make history in July by integrating onsite cannabis sales and consumption.

“Hosting cannabis sales and consumption is a groundbreaking milestone in destigmatization by facilitating a deeper connection between consumers and the farmers who cultivate their products with such care,” says Lauren Carpenter, the co-founder of Embarc, which will run the onsite dispensary.

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In Canada, cannabis has also made its way into the fair. For example, you can enter your homegrown bud in the Grand Forks Fall Fair as a ‘farm good’ that can win ribbons by expert judges.

The California State Fair has been a trailblazer in the US. In 2022, the fair introduced an educational cannabis exhibit and awards competition to showcase the plant alongside California’s other agricultural bounty, such as wine, cheese, olive oil and craft beer.

This year, attendees who are 21 and older, can hang out in a 30,000-square-foot consumption lounge where they can try out the winning products from diverse farms and brands from across California.

“This initiative spotlights the significant role of cannabis in California’s agricultural industry, marking a major milestone in the state fair’s 170-year history,” says James Leitz, who is executive producer of the cannabis competition and exhibit.

“Expanding the competition to include all form factors and providing patrons the opportunity to directly engage with and consume winning brands is transformational for public understanding of the plant.”

This year’s cannabis competition includes pre-rolls, concentrates, cartridges, edibles, beverages, and wellness products—in addition to flower. There are more than 500 entries.

“The California State Fair took a historic leadership position in 2022 with the introduction of a cannabis exhibit and competition,” says Tom Martinez, CEO of the California State Fair.

“This year, we’ve expanded our offerings to include onsite sales and consumption in a designated area to provide a platform to amplify California’s rich agricultural bounty and facilitate storytelling for farmers from diverse backgrounds and experiences.

The California State Fair runs July 12-28.