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Marijuana will be an exhibit at a U.S. state fair for the first time

Judges rated marijuana plants at the Oregon Cannabis Grower’s Fair plant competition in Salem, Oregon, to choose nine plants to be displayed at the Oregon State Fair Aug. 26 to Sept. 5.
Judges rated marijuana plants at the Oregon Cannabis Grower’s Fair plant competition in Salem, Oregon, to choose nine plants to be displayed at the Oregon State Fair Aug. 26 to Sept. 5. Associated Press

Could there be a more perfect place for a marijuana exhibit than a state fair, with a midway flowing with fried munchies?

The Beaver State will find out when the Oregon State Fair becomes the first in the United States to have a pot exhibit, nearly two years after the state legalized recreational marijuana.

The bad news for those who like to imbibe: It’s not for smoking or for sale.

And, there will be beefed-up security surrounding the exhibit.

And, you have to be 21 to view it.

Nine living marijuana plants will be displayed beginning Friday by the Oregon Cannabis Business Council, which says this is the first time live cannabis will be shown at a state fair in the United States.

“It's not to tempt people to use marijuana,” council president Donald Morse, told ABC News. “It is to educate. Cannabis is Oregon's newest farm crop.”

The group hosted an informational booth about marijuana at the state fair last year. No one complained, which made state fair officials more comfortable about allowing live plants to be shown this year.

The Oregon state fair has a reputation for displaying the latest, and sometimes controversial, trends in agriculture and popular culture, fair spokesman Dan Cox said, noting the brouhaha over a tattoo body art exhibit nearly 20 years.

“It is a showcase for traditional things. And yet it's always been a show place for the new, the different and the innovative,” Cox told the Associated Press.

The exhibit will be set up inside a translucent tent in one of the fair’s exhibition halls. Visitors will be carded.

“You can’t display plants out in the open because there are kids around,” Morse told Quartz. “So the plants will be in a greenhouse, manned by security guards.”

The nine plants that will be shown - three each in the sativa, indica and hybrid categories - were chosen by judges at a competition earlier this month. They can’t have buds on them because it’s illegal to transport a flowering plant in the state.

Even so, marijuana enthusiasts are excited to see ganja go so mainstream, right there alongside the sheep judging, the pie-eating contest and the Melissa Etheridge concert.

(Will the deep-fried, bacon-wrapped peanut butter cup be back?)

The Denver County Fair in Colorado hosted a judged marijuana contest two years ago, according to Quartz. But it was held off-site and only photos of the winning plants, and brownies, were displayed on the fairgrounds.

The headline-making Pot Pavilion was canceled after a class-action lawsuit accused a vendor of handing out pot-laced chocolates at what was supposed to be a drug-free event.

Organic marijuana grower Tom Lauerman, one of the judges who decided earlier this month what plants would be shown, is beside himself over the upcoming event in Oregon.

“It's pretty awesome to be judging actual cannabis plants that are going to go into a state fair,” he told ABC. “It kind of gives me goose bumps even talking about it.”

The state’s cannabis business council would like Oregon to be the first “craft cannabis” state in the country.

At the fair, “Oregonians, for the first time, can get up close and see what a real marijuana plant looks like,” Morse told Quartz.

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