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Thursday, 25 August 2016

Prize-winning pot: top marijuana plants debut at Oregon state fair

Wepush Clouds  |  at  09:22:00  |  , ,  | 

This week, Nathan Martinez’s family will head to the Oregon state fair to view the prize-winning plants he’s hydroponically grown and lovingly cultivated: both the sativa super sour diesel and the indica granddaddy purple.
That’s right: one of the nation’s most family-friendly traditions – synonymous with the tilt-a-whirl, funnel cake and blue ribbon pigs – will feature marijuana plants.
“Cannabis is taking its rightful place next to tomatoes and other agriculture,” said Don Morse, with the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, noting that it’s the first time pot plants have been displayed at a state fair.
But unlike the tomatoes, the marijuana plants will only be viewable by those 21 and older. And the plants will be guarded by security. Still, cannabis advocates called it a monumental step in removing the stigma around a product they believe should be considered the same as any other Oregon crop.
Mandy Seybert, 28, a pot farmer who will have a plant on display at the Oregon fair, believes it’s simply a matter of time before cannabis “is treated like any other plant – just like someone’s prized daisy”.
To determine which nine marijuana plants would make history at the state fair in Salem, there was another first: a live cannabis competition at the Oregon cannabis growers’ fair from 13 to 14 August.
In some ways, the growers’ fair was similar to any business expo; vendors pitched their products, including DIY pot-growing kits and child-resistant bags to store bud.
At one of the larger vendor booths, Katie Joy, 24, assured a customer looking at her vaporizers that they were discreet and “perfect for a river day”. Joy also pointed out that although the products are “gender neutral” she had male and female color schemes available.
Gregarious 44-year-old “Stony” Tony Black – sporting a white T-shirt that read “God grew it. I smoke it. That settles” – said the expo was great for selling his cleaning products for glass pipes.
Shane Cavanaugh, owner of Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, arranges the cannabis display in his store before the grower’s fair in 2015.
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 Shane Cavanaugh, owner of Amazon Organics, a pot dispensary in Eugene, arranges the cannabis display in his store before the growers’ fair in 2015. Photograph: Ryan Kang/AP
There was one quiet, lonely-looking stand staffed by a Frito-Lay representative, hoping to convince marijuana store owners to stock their salty snacks.
But the dozens of marijuana plants in the corner, some reaching 14in tall, were distinct.
Ribbons for first, second and third prize were awarded for each of the three varieties being judged: indica, which produces the type of body high where munchies manifest – experts say to think of it as “in da couch”; sativa, with a more energetic, uplifting high; and hybrids.
Ed Rosenthal, also called the guru of ganja, was the contest’s head judge. Carrying a clipboard and wearing a black shirt with green marijuana plants, he evaluated each plant on a range of criteria: color, aroma, shape of leaves and overall health. The plants are judged before they flower, and the type of high they produce isn’t a factor in their overall score.
Rosenthal’s priority, he said, is “helping cannabis socialize into the mainstream”.
Oregon voters legalized recreational marijuana in 2014 for adults 21 and older. The state has long allowed medical marijuana.
Among the hopefuls was Peggy Anderson, a petite silver-haired woman, retired from her job at the Portland Business Alliance to open a pot-growing operation with her son. At 63 years old, Anderson said she’s never felt healthier. She walks three miles a day and can vouch for her own product.
She believes the industry is poised to be the next cash crop.
“If you think about Oregon and the agricultural industry, in the Willamette Valley we’re primed to do just as well as the wine industry,” said Anderson, who brought an indica strain called So Mango to display.
Greg Seybert, head farmer at marijuana grower Synergy Farms, inspects a marijuana plant with his girlfriend, Samantha Aune.
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 Greg Seybert, head farmer at marijuana grower Synergy Farms, inspects a marijuana plant with his girlfriend, Samantha Aune. Photograph: Gillian Flaccus/AP
Mary Lou Burton, one of the key organizers of the event, is envisioning a craft cannabis industry, perhaps – in classic Portland style – artisanal pot.
Burton spent nearly two decades as a wedding planner and still looks the part. She wore a navy and white floral sundress and had the aura of a frenzied multitasker. She spoke quickly, greeted reporters, hobnobbed with exhibitors and gave everyone a run down of the event.
The growers’ fair was a success, Burton said, despite having to field more phone calls than she’s used to.
“A lot of our exhibitors are stoners, so they call and say, “When is the fair again?” she said.
Martinez and his business partner, Danny Grimm, who own Uplifted, a cannabis farm, took home two blue ribbons and are ecstatic about the upcoming state fair.
“To display my plants in public is a dream come true,” Grimm said.
It wasn’t that long ago, he said, “we would have picked up a couple of felonies for our plants”.
Pete and Amy Egli were at the expo to show support for their son, who works in a pot store and is a grower. Amy, a kindergarten teacher, and Pete, a dairy worker, aren’t marijuana users and are still in the midst of trying to understand the industry.
“We grew up in a world that was very different,” Pete Egli said. “I’m still like, oh my God, it’s going to be at the state fair.”

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