Cannabis Sales and Consumption at the California State Fair

In a historic move, the 2024 California State Fair is set to become the first state fair in the United States to permit onsite cannabis sales and consumption. This groundbreaking change reflects the acceptance and normalization of cannabis within California's vibrant agricultural landscape. From July 12 to 28, attendees aged 21 and over will be able to purchase and consume cannabis products within a designated area of the fairgrounds in Sacramento, providing a unique and educational experience for both seasoned cannabis enthusiasts and the canna-curious alike​.

Brief History of Cannabis in California

california cannabis products

Cannabis has a long and complex history in California, marked by periods of acceptance, prohibition, and eventual legalization. Here is a brief overview of the significant milestones in the state's cannabis history:

Early History

1800s: Cannabis was introduced to California in the 19th century, primarily as hemp, which was used for rope, fabric, and other materials. It was widely cultivated and used without much controversy during this period.

Prohibition Era

1913: California became one of the first states to regulate and criminalize cannabis. The Poison Act of 1907 was amended to include "loco-weed," a term that encompassed cannabis, making its sale illegal without a prescription.

1937: The federal government passed the Marihuana Tax Act, effectively criminalizing cannabis nationwide. California followed suit with stricter enforcement.

Medical Cannabis Movement

1972: Proposition 19, the California Marijuana Initiative, was the first attempt to legalize cannabis, but it was defeated by voters.

1996: Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, was passed, making California the first state to legalize medical cannabis. This allowed patients with a doctor's recommendation to use cannabis for medicinal purposes, a groundbreaking shift in the state's cannabis policy.

Towards Legalization

2003: Senate Bill 420 established an identification card system for medical cannabis patients and set guidelines for the amount of cannabis they could possess and cultivate.

2010: Proposition 19, which aimed to legalize recreational cannabis, was put to vote but was narrowly defeated.

Legalization of Recreational Cannabis

2016: Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, was passed by voters, legalizing recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and over. This law allowed the possession, cultivation, and sale of cannabis under a regulated system.

2018: The legal sale of recreational cannabis began in California, marking a significant milestone in the state's cannabis history. The Bureau of Cannabis Control was established to regulate the industry.

Cannabis and the State Fair

cannabis consumption at the california state fair

Since the passage of Proposition 64 in 2016 the state has been at the forefront of integrating cannabis into its cultural and economic fabric. The California State Fair, known for showcasing the state's agricultural diversity, began its foray into the world of cannabis in 2022 with the introduction of an educational exhibit and a cannabis competition​.

In the years that followed, the fair expanded its cannabis-related offerings, hosting educational programs and honoring farmers who cultivate the plant. By 2023, the competition had grown significantly, attracting over 500 entries from cannabis producers across the state. This year's fair marks a pivotal moment as it transitions from simply exhibiting cannabis to allowing its sale and consumption on-site​​.

The decision to integrate cannabis sales and consumption at the fair is supported by recent legislation that permits licensed cannabis events. This legislative change aligns with California's broader efforts to normalize cannabis use and recognize its importance within the state's agricultural sector. The 2024 California State Fair will not only highlight cannabis as a crop but also facilitate a deeper connection between consumers and the dedicated farmers behind the products​.

On-Site Cannabis Sales

cannabis consumption at the state fair

At the 2024 California State Fair, a wide array of cannabis products will be available for purchase, reflecting the diversity and richness of the state’s cannabis industry. Visitors can expect to find an assortment of products, including flowers, pre-rolls, concentrates, and edibles, all from some of California’s top cannabis brands and small farms​​.

The purchasing process has been designed for convenience and efficiency. Attendees will be able to browse the various products displayed at the fair, add their selections to a virtual shopping cart, and then pick up their purchases at one of Embarc’s on-site dispensaries. This method ensures that visitors can enjoy a seamless shopping experience, enabling them to sample and buy their favorite cannabis products without hassle​​.

Embarc, a key partner in this initiative, has been instrumental in promoting the responsible sale and consumption of cannabis. The company has a strong focus on community engagement and destigmatizing cannabis use, often working in conservative areas to build local coalitions that support cannabis businesses. At the California State Fair, Embarc aims to demonstrate the vibrancy and quality of California cannabis in a setting that many attendees may not have previously associated with cannabis consumption​.

The inclusion of on-site cannabis sales at the state fair marks a significant step towards normalizing cannabis as part of California’s agricultural and cultural landscape. This initiative not only provides a platform for small farmers and producers to showcase their products but also allows consumers to engage directly with the people who cultivate their cannabis, fostering a deeper appreciation for the plant and its diverse uses​.

Consumption Area

cannabis consumption lounge at the state fair

One of the highlights of the 2024 California State Fair will be the 30,000-square-foot consumption lounge, a first for any state fair in the nation. This designated area will provide a safe and controlled environment for attendees aged 21 and over to consume cannabis products they purchase at the fair​​.

The consumption lounge is designed to enhance the visitor experience by offering a comfortable and engaging space where fairgoers can sample a variety of cannabis products. Whether it's flowers, pre-rolls, concentrates, or edibles, attendees will have the opportunity to try winning products from the fair's expanded cannabis competition. This setup not only promotes responsible consumption but also allows consumers to explore the effects and flavors of different cannabis strains and products in a social setting​​.

Safety and compliance are top priorities in the consumption area. The fair has partnered with the City of Sacramento and the State of California to ensure robust public health and safety measures are in place. These include clear guidelines for consumption, staff trained to handle any issues, and resources for attendees to learn about responsible cannabis use. This infrastructure aims to create a positive and educational environment for all participants.

The inclusion of a consumption lounge also represents a significant cultural shift. By integrating cannabis consumption into a mainstream public event, the fair helps to further destigmatize cannabis use and highlight its role in California’s agricultural industry. This setting allows visitors to connect with the cannabis community, learn about the plant's benefits, and engage with the farmers and producers who are at the forefront of this burgeoning industry.

Expanded Cannabis Competition

california state fair cannabis competition

Along with onsite sales and consumption, the fair will feature an expanded cannabis competition, building on the success of previous years and highlighting the innovation and quality within the state's cannabis industry. This year, the competition has been broadened to include a wider array of product categories, such as pre-rolls, concentrates, and edibles, in addition to the traditional flower categories​​.

This expansion is a testament to the growing diversity and sophistication of cannabis products available in California. With over 500 entries, more than double the number from last year, the competition promises to be a showcase of the best that California's cannabis industry has to offer. The large number of entries reflects the increasing participation from both established brands and small, innovative producers​​.

The competition not only highlights the top products but also serves as an educational platform for fairgoers. The cannabis exhibition hall will provide detailed information about the history of cannabis in California, the various product categories, and the benefits of different cannabis strains and forms. Interactive elements, such as QR codes, will allow visitors to learn more about the products and the farms that produce them, enhancing their understanding and appreciation of cannabis​​.

Judging in the competition is rigorous, with entries evaluated on criteria such as quality, potency, and overall consumer experience. Winners in each category will be honored with the prestigious Golden Bear award, which signifies excellence in the cannabis industry. These awards not only provide recognition for the producers but also help consumers identify top-tier products​.

By expanding the competition to include all form factors and providing patrons with the opportunity to directly engage with and consume winning brands, the fair aims to transform public understanding of cannabis. This initiative underscores the significant role of cannabis in California’s agricultural landscape and highlights the state's leadership in the normalization and celebration of cannabis culture​.

Educational Initiatives

cannabis showcase at the california state fair

The 2024 California State Fair's introduction of onsite cannabis sales and consumption is not only a milestone in normalization but also an educational opportunity. The fair aims to leverage this event to deepen public understanding and appreciation of cannabis through a series of educational initiatives.

At the heart of these initiatives is the cannabis exhibition hall, a 30,000-square-foot space dedicated to providing comprehensive information about cannabis. This area will feature exhibits detailing the history of cannabis in California, the science behind cannabis cultivation and consumption, and the variety of products available in today's market​.

Interactive elements, such as QR codes placed throughout the exhibition, will allow attendees to access detailed information about the products on display. By scanning these codes, visitors can learn about the specific strains, their effects, and the cultivation practices used by the farmers. This approach not only educates the public but also promotes transparency and trust within the cannabis industry​​.

In addition to the static exhibits, the fair will host live demonstrations and workshops led by experts in the field. These sessions will cover a range of topics, including the benefits of different consumption methods, responsible usage, and the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Such interactive and hands-on experiences are designed to engage attendees and provide them with practical knowledge that they can apply in their daily lives​.

The educational initiatives at the fair are aimed at demystifying cannabis and breaking down the stigma associated with its use. By presenting cannabis in the context of California's rich agricultural heritage and highlighting its economic and therapeutic benefits, the fair hopes to foster a more informed and accepting public attitude towards cannabis​.

Overall, these educational initiatives underscore the California State Fair's commitment to promoting a nuanced and comprehensive understanding of cannabis, ensuring that attendees leave with a greater appreciation of the plant and its many uses​.

Community and Economic Impact

The inclusion of cannabis at the state fair is expected to bring substantial economic benefits as the state fair looks to tap into California’s cannabis industry. Valued at over $5 billion, the industry plays a crucial role in the state's economy​. By integrating cannabis into the fair, the event is expected to draw a larger and more diverse crowd, boosting overall attendance and revenue. This increase in foot traffic can positively impact other fair vendors and local businesses in Sacramento, providing a broader economic uplift.

Moreover, the fair's partnership with Embarc, a company known for community-centric cannabis retail operations, highlights the fair’s focus on supporting local economies. Embarc works closely with communities to ensure that cannabis businesses operate responsibly and benefit the local economy. At the fair, this will mean increased visibility and sales opportunities for small and local cannabis producers, helping them reach new customers and expand their market presence​.

Community Engagement

The introduction of cannabis sales and consumption at the fair also aims to foster community engagement and destigmatize cannabis use. Embarc’s approach involves extensive community outreach and coalition-building to promote understanding and acceptance of cannabis. This is particularly important in more conservative areas where cannabis businesses may face opposition​.

Hosting a cannabis event at such a well-known public venue as the California State Fair provides a unique platform to educate the public about cannabis. By showcasing cannabis alongside traditional agricultural products like wine, cheese, and craft beer, the fair promotes a more integrated view of cannabis as part of California's agricultural heritage​.

Additionally, the fair’s expanded educational initiatives, including interactive exhibits and live demonstrations, are designed to inform and engage attendees of all backgrounds. This emphasis on education helps demystify cannabis and encourages informed consumption, thereby reducing stigma and fostering a more inclusive community dialogue around cannabis use​.

Statements from Key Figures

Key figures involved in the fair’s cannabis initiatives have emphasized the importance of this integration. Lauren Carpenter, co-founder of Embarc, noted that this event provides an opportunity to showcase the vibrancy of California’s cannabis industry in a space that many might not traditionally associate with cannabis consumption. James Leitz, executive producer of the Cannabis Competition and Exhibit, highlighted the transformational potential of allowing direct consumer engagement with cannabis products, which can enhance public understanding and acceptance of the plant​.​


The 2024 California State Fair's integration of onsite cannabis sales and consumption marks a historic milestone in the normalization and celebration of cannabis within California's rich agricultural tapestry. This groundbreaking initiative not only highlights the state's progressive approach to cannabis but also underscores the plant's significant economic, cultural, and social impact.

The fair's inclusive and educational approach provides a comprehensive platform for visitors to learn about and experience cannabis in a responsible and informed manner. By featuring a wide array of cannabis products, a dedicated consumption lounge, and an expanded competition, the fair offers a unique opportunity for attendees to engage directly with the cannabis community and appreciate the plant's diverse benefits​.

As California continues to lead the way in cannabis legalization and integration, the 2024 California State Fair serves as a model for other states and events looking to embrace the evolving landscape of cannabis. The fair's efforts to destigmatize cannabis use, support local economies, and foster community engagement reflect a forward-thinking approach that recognizes the plant's rightful place alongside other celebrated agricultural products.

In summary, the inclusion of cannabis at the California State Fair is a testament to the state's innovative spirit and commitment to agricultural diversity. This historic event is not only a win for cannabis enthusiasts but also for the broader community, as it promotes education, understanding, and acceptance of this remarkable plant. Attendees are encouraged to partake in the festivities, explore the cannabis exhibits, and experience firsthand the future of cannabis in California.