Well, they’re not doing that, but the California State Fair is awarding a prize for the cannabis highest in THC, .e.g., for the cannabis most likely to produce psychosis and dependency.
The award will recognize flower in 5 categories with the highest concentrations of two cannabinoids CBD and THC and 5 terpenes.
Marijuana Moment summed it up this way: “California marijuana vendors will be able to take part in a first-of-its-kind, state-sanctioned cannabis competition at the State Fair next year [emphasis added].”
This contest reflects California’s continuing failure to develop and implement a reasonable approach to cannabis regulation that allows legal use while still protecting public health. It also demonstrates how poorly aligned state priorities are with public health and protection of youth, and how little understanding there is in our state government of the characteristics of the cannabis market that drive cannabis use disorder and negative impacts.
It is also giving out a prize for the product richest in the terpenes typically used to promote flavored marketing such as limonene, widely used to attract youth across the tobacco and cannabis markets..
The contest is especially ironic because the Fair promotes itself as “More than a fair” because it provides emergency services. Who knows, maybe they will serve people who suffer psychotic episodes from using super-potent cannabis.
It is one thing to allow a legal market. It is another to give prizes encouraging that legal market to become as harmful and addictive as possible. Where are the state regulators? Where is Governor Newsom, who is an ex-officio member of the fair’s board of directors?
So is State Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician and chair of the State Senate Health Committee. He would be an ideal person to start asking questions.
Since I think cannabis should be treated like tobacco: No one gets thrown in jail for using it but government should be discouraging use and protecting bystanders. My rule of thumb for judging cannabis policy: If you changed “cannabis” to “tobacco” would the policy warrant public support? His contact information is here, including an email form you can use if you live in his district. Otherwise, you can email him at Senator.Pan@senate.ca.gov or call his office at the numbers on his web page.
Thanks to Jerry Jeffe and Lynn Silver for bringing this to my attention.
MARCH 6, 2022 UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times published a strong editorial, “Are state fair officials high? They should not reward super-potent marijuana” that concluded,
Californians voted to legalize marijuana with a vision of treating pot more like alcohol — as a tightly regulated product for adults. Since then, the legal marketplace has struggled to compete with the black market. To the extent a cannabis competition at the state fair can help bolster the legal industry, it should not be shunned. The state fair’s current plan includes responsible measures like restricting the cannabis exhibit to age 21 and over. xxx
But Gov. Gavin Newsom, who campaigned for marijuana legalization and serves as an ex-officio member of the state fair’s board of directors, has a special obligation to ensure that California balances support for the legal industry with what’s best for public health — and that should include responsible messaging about legal marijuana. He and the rest of the board should reconsider the contest category encouraging growers to develop more potent strains of pot when existing research demonstrates their dangers.