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California State Fair Expands Cannabis Competition

This July marks the first time cannabis will be legally sold at a state fair


SACRAMENTO — The California State Fair is set to make history this July by integrating onsite cannabis sales and consumption, ushering in a new era as the first time cannabis will be legally sold at a state fair.



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This historic action is a continuation of the California State Fair’s leadership on cannabis after legislation signed by the governor allowing for licensed cannabis events to take place.


In 2022, the California State 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, the event will expand to include a broadened cannabis competition and onsite sales and consumption, bolstering the significant efforts already made to destigmatize cannabis through education, advocacy and access.


“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,” said Lauren Carpenter, Co-Founder of Embarc, the fair’s partner in facilitating onsite sales and consumption. “Joining James Leitz, pioneer of the educational exhibit and competition for the past two years, on an expanded competition and experiential dispensary is a major step forward for responsible normalization.”


The cannabis exhibition hall for state fair attendees ages 21 and over is packed with educational information about the state’s cannabis history and exhibits of top California brands and farms. Attendees can scan QR codes to learn more about Golden Bear award-winning products, add items to a virtual shopping basket and purchase them at Embarc’s on-site dispensary. The area will feature a 30,000-square-foot consumption lounge, accessible via a designated walking path, to provide attendees over the age of 21 with an opportunity to try 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,” said James Leitz, 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.”


As part of this commitment to consumer education and awareness, this year’s cannabis competition was expanded to include product categories for pre-rolls, concentrates, cartridges, edibles, beverages and wellness products in addition to flower, enhancing the science-based testing with additional judging by a panel of experts. With more than 500 entries—double the number compared to last year—the California State Fair Cannabis Awards is the largest state-sanctioned cannabis competition of its kind.


“The California State Fair took a historic leadership position in 2022 with the introduction of a cannabis exhibit and competition,” said 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. We have partnered with the City of Sacramento, the State of California, James Leitz and Embarc—alongside our robust onsite public health and safety infrastructure—to ensure a responsible and community-sensitive event.


We look forward to welcoming visitors from across the state and beyond to this informative experience.”

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