How a B.C. mayor plans to rank reefer at the fall fair
Homegrown pot will join poultry, pies and preserves at exhibitions in Grand Forks and Cowichan Valley
For more than a century, judges at the Grand Forks and District Fall Fair have been asked to judge the region's best homegrown zucchinis, tomatoes and raspberries.
Now cannabis has been added to the competition.
Two categories — one for indoor plants and one for those grown outside — have been added to this year's event, scheduled to take place Sept. 7 and 8 in the West Kootenay city.
Fall fair society president Dana O'Donnell said with the plant now legal in Canada, adding it to the roster was a simple choice.
"A lot of people grow cannabis in the valley, so we felt it should be a part of the competition," she told CBC Daybreak South host Chris Walker.
Adult-only items are already a part of the fair, with categories for homemade wine and beer alongside more family-friendly fare such as honey and eggs.
After the first couple of joints, how do you really tell?... In wine-tasting you can spit it out. With cannabis once you've breathed it in, you can't really breathe it out."- Grand Forks Mayor and fall fair cannabis judge Brian Taylor
The cannabis will be displayed in a locked glass cabinet, and handled only by volunteers who are of legal age, O'Donnell said.
She also said the cannabis will be taken off-site for judgment so as not to "smell up the quilts."
Those tasked with selecting the prize specimens will be looking for density of buds, smell and colour to help make their decision.
The cannabis will only be burned or consumed if the competition is too close to call.
The winner will receive a blue ribbon and $5 cash.
'Cannabis is an agricultural product'
The judges assigned to the cannabis category in Grand Forks include local dispensary director Jim Leslie, as well Mayor Brian Taylor who is "a bit of an expert in the cannabis department," according to O'Donnell.
In fact, Taylor is one of the founders of the B.C. Marijuana Party, and he led the party during the 2001 provincial election.
Taylor told CBC reporter Bob Keating he is happy to see the competition added to the annual event.
"I think this is a visual, clear demonstration that we're headed down a different road," Taylor said. "Cannabis is an agricultural product."
Asked how he would choose which weed is best, Taylor said he'd be focused on visuals and scent, but that he'd prefer not to smoke any.
"After the first couple of joints, how do you really tell?" he asked. "In wine-tasting you can spit it out. With cannabis once you've breathed it in, you can't really breathe it out."
Grand Forks isn't the only B.C. community to welcome pot to agricultural exhibitions.
On Vancouver Island, the 151st Cowichan Exhibition Fair will also have a category for cannabis, and has invited an employee from a medical marijuana company to help adjudicate.
Meanwhile, other Canadian communities are hoping the legalized plant will bring home more than bragging rights.
In rural Newfoundland, former fishing towns are turning to cannabis production for economic help.
And Williams Lake, in B.C.'s Cariboo, hopes to become the "cannabis capital" of the province by encouraging growers to set up shop in their city.
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With files from Bob Keating and CBC Daybreak South