Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair results
First place: Uplifted Farms
Second place: Far Fetched Farms
Third place: WAH Farms
First place: Uplifted Farms
Second place: Synergy Farms
Third place: Club Sky High
First place: Canna Manna
Second place: Royal Ambrosia
Third place: AHSG Farms
The panel of judges selected three award-winners in the hybrid, indica and sativa categories based on color, shape and structure, node stacking, leaf structure, aroma, general health and lack of pests. Each grower was allowed to enter one non-flowering plant per category. The top nine plants were featured in an adults-only section of the Oregon State Fair from Aug. 24 to Sept. 6.
While other states fight the notion that growing marijuana should be classified as agriculture, a handful of Oregon activists, growers and business owners have taken a groundbreaking step to normalize the historically banned crop.
From Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, the Oregon State Fair featured nine award-winning cannabis plants, prompting a blast of international media coverage for the cannabis industry and a prime opportunity to break down some of the walls of ignorance.
The winning plants were selected from a pool of 51 entries at the Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair, held Aug. 13-14 at the state fairgrounds in Salem. The competition and trade show were organized by the Oregon Cannabis Business Council and the Cannabis Collaborative Conference.
Mary Lou Burton, founder of the Cannabis Collaborative Conference, says the event was all about earning the trust of growers and giving them the recognition they deserve.
“These are the people who are making the industry,” Burton says, pointing out that some entrants referred to it as the “Academy Awards of Marijuana.”
Danny Grimm, the 31-year-old co-owner of Uplifted Farms, was thrilled to win a pair of blue ribbons for the best sativa and the best indica.
Having grown up in Idaho, a firmly prohibitionist state, Grimm remembers the not-too-distant past when growers had to be secretive about their vocation. Transporting a live cannabis plant through Salem would have been a felony in recent years.
“To be able to come out into the public, it’s a breath of fresh air,” he says.
Grimm says the Uplifted plants received high marks from the judges for the up-cutting of lower leaves and the staking used to create an even canopy. The prize-winning plants were grown hydroponically with a combination of fluorescent, metal halide and high-pressure sodium lights.
Grimm is in the process of transitioning from Oregon’s medical market to the new recreational sector. He plans to move into a 50,000-square-foot facility in January — a significant leap from the 5,000-square-foot warehouse he currently uses. Grimm says he liked the fact that the Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair was completely different than any previous marijuana competitions, which are consumer-oriented events that focus solely on the final product.
Organizers say the competition was a rousing success and they are already putting together an even bigger event for 2017. Flowering plants — which were prohibited for the inaugural event — will be allowed at next year’s competition.
“The goal of this is to get people, at least here in Oregon, to realize that cannabis is a part of the mainstream now,” says Don Morse, director of the Oregon Cannabis Business Council. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. The more you know something up front and personal, the less likely you are to harbor a prejudice.”
Burton says the flood of news stories about the event was unbelievable.
In particular, she points to an article published by Modern Farmer that summed up the fair’s impact: “It might sound goofy or even contrarian, but marijuana’s presence at the State Fair is actually one of the most down-to-Earth realizations of the legalization movement. Only at the State Fair can marijuana be recognized for what it is: a crop, nothing more or less,” the traditional agriculture magazine wrote.
The Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair even caught the attention of talk show host and comedian Conan O’Brien.
“This year, for the first time ever, plants will compete in the Oregon State Fair. The winner will be whichever marijuana grower remembers to show up,” O’Brien joked to the audience during his July 26 show.
Getting the growers to show up was not a problem. However, like any first-time event, the fair did have some flaws. Morse says the judges weren’t happy with the amount of time allotted to inspect the plants — two hours for all 51 entries.
“In the future, they’ll have the whole day for judging,” Morse says.
Next year, Morse expects the competition to feature about 200 growers. Allowing flowering plants will ensure the Growers’ Fair continues to break new ground in 2017.
“Maybe I’m a dreamer, but what we accomplished this weekend, I don’t think anybody thought could be done,” Burton says.
The Growers’ Fair coincided with the Drug Enforcement Administration’s announcement that it would not remove cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act — a decision that highlighted the disconnect between federal policy and forward-thinking states like Oregon. Activists and business owners throughout the country lamented the prevailing ignorance that keeps marijuana classified as “dangerous” and “highly addictive.”
Anthony Johnson, executive director of New Approach Oregon and Measure 91 co-author, wrote: “While many are disappointed by the DEA’s inaction on rescheduling, please know that we are making great progress, and Oregon is helping lead the way. By demonstrating that cannabis can be treated like beer and wine, we are shattering harmful Reefer Madness propaganda. Please continue to help our cannabis industry by supporting our great businesses and events, like the Oregon Cannabis Growers’ Fair.”