California State Fair to Allow Sales and Consumption of Cannabis

The LA Times has reported, “For the first time in the 170-year history of the California State Fair, which is scheduled to open July 12 in Sacramento, visitors will be able to do something they haven’t been able to do there before — legally anyway. They will be able to purchase and consume cannabis on-site.”

Embarc, the fair’s partner on the project, will host a dispensary and 30,000-square-foot outdoor consumption lounge space at Cal Expo that will allow fair-goers who are 21 and older (and in possession of a valid government-issued photo ID) to buy and try award-winning cannabis.

In 2022 a cannabis exhibit and awards program were added to the fair lineup, and an estimated 160,000 people have come through that educational exhibit in the last two years. This year, those thousands of potential shoppers will be able to buy and consume some 300 different THC-containing products, including many of the 98 freshly crowned winners of 2024 California State Cannabis Awards.

Cal NORML deputy director Ellen Komp was quoted in a Sacramento Bee article about the move, saying that last year, “If you wanted to order or even smell the winning cannabis entries, you could place a call from your cell phone and pick it up in the parking lot, like a criminal. And inside there was no place to peacefully consume it. I told the (Department of Cannabis Control) representatives that if their agency truly wanted to help the California cannabis farmer, it needed to advocate for this change.”

“When people come to the state fair, they can try the best wine, cheese and craft-brewed beer. That’s already in place,” California State Fair Chief Executive Tom Martinez told The Times. “This was just the natural next step that the legislature and our board of directors is taking.”

This year’s California State Fair runs from July 12 to 28. Daily hours for the dispensary and lounge, award winners and additional information will be posted to the 2024 California State Cannabis Awards website at as they are available.

You’ll only be able to consume cannabis products purchased on-site. The lounge will provide rolling papers and expects to have an assortment of other smoking paraphernalia to use, so leave your favorite smoking gear at home. And last, while the dispensary and lounge will be open for most of the fair’s run, there are three dates to be aware of: July 12 and 13 (no inhalable consumption will be allowed on those days) and July 19 when the dispensary will be closed.

Cal NORML will be tabling along with the California Cannabis Historical Society on weekends during the Fair. Stop by and say high.

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