By James Taylor

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – California’s state fair has struggled with two years of COVID cancellations. But planning is already underway for next year’s event.

And among the livestock and food competitions, there will be a new award handed out for top pot. We’re getting answers on just how the cannabis competition will be judged.

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The state fair is a Sacramento summertime tradition.

Along with all the food and fun, its purpose is to recognize the best in California. Annual competitions are held to pick the top wine, cheese, olive oil, and craft beer. But next year, a new category is being added: cannabis cultivation.

“It’s a big milestone for the cannabis industry,” said Brian Applegarth, CEO of Cultivar Brands.

Cal Expo’s board of directors approved the top pot competition.

“As far as I know, it might be the first time any state fair is doing that,” said Chair of Cal Expo board of directors Jess Durfee.

Durfee says its purpose is to recognize the quality contributions of California’s cannabis cultivators.

“It’s a growing industry; it’s important to agriculture in California,” said Durfee.

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Other events have traditionally used a panel of judges who carefully sample and rank all of the entries. So how will this cannabis competition be scored?

“No, there won’t be a panel of judges sitting there smoking cannabis,” said Durfee.

Instead, each entry is sent to a laboratory and judged scientifically based on its chemical composition.

“We’re looking at seven different categories, two of them are cannabinoids and five of them are terpene profiles,” said Applegarth.

The state’s nearly 7,000 licensed cannabis cultivators are eligible to enter.
And just like wine and the others, the winner will be presented with the prestigious “golden bear” award, to acknowledge being the best the state has to offer.

“The goal is for cannabis to be celebrated in a very normalized way,” said Applegarth.

Winners will likely be able to showcase their cannabis plants, but marijuana won’t be available to sample, purchase or consume.

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Entries will be accepted beginning November 1 and winners will be announced in May.