Cannabis at the County Fair?


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Published July 6, 2017,

By Christine King

The all-American county fair, the epitome of apple pie and ice cream, agricultural abundance and the horseshoe and cornhole toss, may be heading for some shocking changes.

Right near the corn dog booth may be a cannabis booth in the very near future. Yep, you read that right.

A bill signed by California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown will allow the option of pot sampling and selling in designated areas at county fairs.

As a bonus, the bill also opens the door for campgrounds to conduct events centered around marijuana (sure — just call it a pot fest).

This legislation absolutely will alter the dynamics of the fairs. A fun day for the family could now mean encountering people high on pot having an “elevated” experience as they wander the fairgrounds. Carnival rides such as the teacup twirl or the Tilt-A-Whirl may never be the same. Tests of skill, strength and hand-eye coordination at the game booths (including, say, the rope ladder climb) — well, let’s just say they’ll be different.

Even though the pot sampling and sales would be limited to people age 21 and over, the very existence of the activity on the same grounds as the fair’s main events sends a signal to children that marijuana use is normal, said Brook Lowe of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) in a statement last month.

The liability factor of including the drug at fairs and carnivals needs serious consideration. The heightened risk of injury is also a reality that cannot be dismissed. The idea of exposing curious teens or children to pot samples at these venues is frightening and ill-advised. And the potential pairing with alcohol at these events further elevates the hazard, including the drive home for those who partake — as well as all to those around them.

These issue have not yet been addressed. And California’s Proposition 64 prohibits the sale of alcohol and pot at the same establishment. So — beer or pot? County fairgoers and vendors will have strong opinions.

As the munchies kick in for the addicted, you can just see it: The lines at the food trucks will lengthen — and sales of Krispy Kreme triple cheeseburgers, funnel cakes and deep-fried peanut butter pickles will be on the rise.

For this summer, at least, the public is protected from this nonsense. Recreational marijuana sales in the state of California don’t begin until Jan. 1, 2018. But let’s see what sort of ride people are in for next summer — and brace ourselves.