California News

Bay Area county fairs are now allowed to sell pot, but will they?

PLEASANTON — Alameda County Fair goers may be able to add something else to their round of classic fair food of corn dogs and fried pickles — weed.

Assembly Bill 94, signed recently by Gov. Jerry Brown, outlines how to carry out November 2016’s ballot measure that allows recreational marijuana in California. The bill says weed can be sold at county fairs or other agricultural events, as long as the customers are 21 and over.

Although fairs in San Mateo and Contra Costa counties already have occurred this year and Alameda County’s is currently ongoing through Sunday, the law wouldn’t go into affect until January. Customers won’t see any weed-related products until the 2018 fair season — if fair officials allow them at all.

Contra Costa County Fair CEO Joe Brengle said management has decided against it.

“At this time there is more clarification needed regarding the laws and regulations for the fair to allow the sales of marijuana, or marijuana products during the annual fair,” he said.

In Santa Clara and Alameda counties, the subject has yet to go before the respective boards that govern the annual fairs. The earliest it could be discussed by the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors and the Alameda County Fair board, headed by 26 community leaders, is at their next scheduled meeting in August.

Pigs race down the front stretch during the “All Alaskan Racing Pigs” races at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton. (Doug Duran/Bay Area News Group)

In the Central Valley, CEOs of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Madera county fairs had reactions that ranged from suspicion to disgust when asked about the possibility of pot at their events, according to media reports.

Even if fair organizers approve marijuana sales on fairgrounds, how it is consumed would be regulated. A temporary event license would only allow people 21 and over to consume the marijuana in an area not visible to the public. No one under 21 would be allowed in the weed-only area — presumably like a beer or wine garden.

The regulations would allow fairgrounds to be rented out for marijuana-related events. For example, the Alameda County fairgrounds in Pleasanton could rent its grounds in the off-season to a cannabis expo.

But it appears fairs will also have another choice to make: Alcohol sales or weed? The legislation states that fairgrounds would only be allowed to sell only alcohol or tobacco or weed — not a combination.

Oregon last year allowed blue-ribbon judging of marijuana plants at its state fair.


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