Oregon’s Cultivation Classic combines craft, competition and conversation
By Becky Garrison
Numerous vendors, speakers and an awards show highlighted May’s Cultivation Classic in Portland.
The sixth annual event — billed as “the world’s only cannabis competition exclusively for ethically grown product free of pesticides” — determined the best flower in nine categories. With more than 30 vendors filling Revolution Hall, the May 12 extravaganza was aimed at “defining craft and celebrating community.”
The event kicked off with a welcome from Rep. Earl Blumenhauer (D-Ore.), one of the leading advocates for cannabis reform at the federal level. He announced the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, a bipartisan effort founded by Blumenhauer along with State Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Don Young (R-Alaska) and Jared Polis (D-Colo.).This caucus intends to explore a wide array of proposals that will allow for expanding the research of cannabis and reduce legal restrictions.
The conversation then turned local with an exploration of the “future of craft cannabis in Oregon.” Adam Smith, a founder of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, announced the launch of the Craft Cannabis Alliance. Amid growth of the cannabis industry, this organization seeks to establish criteria for cannabis similar to standards for craft food and beverages that have come to define those industries in Oregon. Smith highlighted, as follows, key criteria for defining craft cannabis in Oregon: clean product containing no pesticides, sustainable methods utilized for growing and processing cannabis, engage in ethical employment practices, local ownership/control of the company and community engagement.
Ethical Cannabis Alliance Executive Director Ashley Preece spoke about her organization’s focus on protecting the environment, ethics in cannabis production and engaging in social issues such as providing a living wage for those working in the cannabis industry. As part of its mission, the Alliance seeks to establish a “rigorous, responsible, community-centered certification for cannabis by providing robust, transparent yet accessible standards.”
Debate on local implementation of cannabis laws ensued in “Banging Your Head Against the Wall: Oregon’s Evolving Regulations.” At issue were concerns that the Oregon Liquor Control Commission discriminates against cannabis users by placing restrictions on the substance beyond those for alcohol. Dispensary owners, for example, cannot offer cannabis samples in the manner of tasting beer, wine, spirits and other products containing alcohol.
Additionally, cannabis-themed events that charge admission fees, unlike alcohol festivals, cannot offer flower for sampling or sale. The law is unclear on cannabis distribution at free events or private parties with cover charges that bill themselves as BYOC (bring your own cannabis) Furthermore, consumption is not permitted at any event advertised to the public.
A proposed law in the Oregon Legislature (Senate Bill 307) advocating for public consumption of cannabis only addresses smoking cannabis on patios and other outdoor spaces. Issues involving consuming cannabis in indoor spaces run up against the Oregon Clean Air Act.
OLCC’s Jesse Sweet noted that the surge in applications have delayed the agency’s implementation of changes. Staff and budget were allocated for 1,200 applications but, to date, have received double this number.
Activists interested in advocating for cannabis legislation can join the Oregon Cannabis Association‘s trip to Washington, D.C., planned for June 19-21. Fifty people have so far signed up for the event, doubling the number that participated in its first trip.
Following a ganga-themed yoga break, the conversation turned to “Telling an Elevated Cannabis Story.” Advances in growing and benefits of such events as the Cultivation Classic as educational opportunities were discussion topics of Alex Halperin of Weed Week and writer Winston Ross. They addressed the challenges of telling the full story of cannabis prohibition’s end, the industry’s transition from a black to green market and the need to avoid journalism riddled with cliches and stereotypes.
The science of cannabis concluded the afternoon. Dr. Ethan Russo, medical director of Phytecs, addressed scientific methods to make cannabis safer and better. His ideal cannabis-classification scheme combines shape, content and purpose.
Farma’s Jeremy Plumb gave a short presentation about the Open Cannabis Project, whose stated mission is to “build an archival record of all existing cannabis strains, in order to ensure that they remain forever in the public domain, available to all, and will not be restricted by commercialization or patenting.”
Promising studies of cannabis for treating chronic pain was the purview of Dr. Adie Poe, co-founder of Habur Health. Her research, presented as “Beyond Opioids: The Future of Cannabis Science and Medicine,” asserts that the combination of cannabis and opioids significantly reduces a patient’s use of opioids, which reduces opioid addiction and deaths from opioid overdoses. This research underscores the CDC’s 2016 recommendation that non-opioids are prescribed for most cases of chronic pain, treated with the lowest effective opioid dose.
One of the world’s largest cannabis-flower competitions capped off the event. Judges considered more than 100 flowers required to meet standards equivalent to organic certification. Winners are Alter Farms Cherry Wine, Yerba Buena Corazon, Cheshire Kind Cannatonic, sofresh farms Critical Cure, East Wind Cannabis CBD Critical Mass, Toro Ma CBDiesel, One Family Farms Blueberry, Ten Four Farms Sour Tangie, Cannassentials Guava Chem.