On September 21, 2021 the California State Fair announced the addition of the first-ever, state-sanctioned cannabis competition and awards. Organizers of the California State Fair Cannabis Competition and Awards stated that this competition will “join a roster of coveted, annual competitions celebrating California’s rich agricultural history and dynamic industries including wine, craft beer, olive oil and cheese.”  However, unlike other agricultural products, the cannabis competition is open only to licensed growers.

Price of Entry:

SC Labs Certificate of Analysis (COA): $420
Submission Fee for an individual strain: $250 (Discounts for multiple strain submissions as follows – 2 strains – $225 (each), 3 strains – $220 (each) and 4 strains – $210 (each).


There are 7 categories in this competition identifying the highest concentration of two cannabinoids and five terpenes.  The Cannaboids being CBD and THC and the Terpenes being Myrcene, Pinene, Terpinolene, Limonene and Caryophyllene.


Based on the test results, 77 bronze, silver and gold medals will be awarded in 7 categories per division.  Also Specialty Awards will be issued such as “Double Gold” which are submission that achieve gold level results in at least 2 categories, “Exotics” recognizing submissions having unique, off-the-charts terpene profiles, and in each of the 7 categories a “Golden Bear Trophy” to the highest concentration of each compound. The submission window opens on November 1, 2021 and will remain open until March 30, 2022. Award winners will be announced in May 2022.

Developments like this contradict the basis of classification of cannabis under Federal law which makes cannabis illegal.

The Anti-Federal U.S. Climate

The Federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) 21 U.S.C. § 812 classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance with a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment, and lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Although you can still face federal criminal charges for using, growing, or selling weed in a manner that is completely lawful under California law, the federal authorities in the past have pulled back from targeting individuals and businesses engaged in medical marijuana activities. This pull back came from Department of Justice (“DOJ”) Safe Harbor Guidelines issued in 2013 under what is known as the “Cole Memo”.

The Cole Memo included eight factors for prosecutors to look at in deciding whether to charge a medical marijuana business with violating the Federal law:

  • Does the business allow minors to gain access to marijuana?
  • Is revenue from the business funding criminal activities or gangs?
  • Is the marijuana being diverted to other states?
  • Is the legitimate medical marijuana business being used as a cover or pretext for the traffic of other drugs or other criminal enterprises?
  • Are violence or firearms being used in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana?
  • Does the business contribute to drugged driving or other adverse public health issues?
  • Is marijuana being grown on public lands or in a way that jeopardizes the environment or public safety?
  • Is marijuana being used on federal property?

Since 2013, these guidelines provided a level of certainty to the marijuana industry as to what point could you be crossing the line with the Federal government.  But on January 4, 2018, then Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the Cole Memo.  Now U.S. Attorneys in the local offices throughout the country retain broad prosecutorial discretion as to whether to prosecute cannabis businesses under federal law even though the state that these businesses operate in have legalized some form of marijuana.

What Should You Do?

Given the illegal status of cannabis under Federal law you need to protect yourself and your marijuana business from all challenges created by the U.S. government.  Although cannabis is legal in California, that is not enough to protect you and for sure you want to take advantage of any assistance or support offered by the State. Be proactive and engage an experienced Cannabis Tax Attorney in your area. Let the tax attorneys of the Law Offices Of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. located in Orange County, Inland Empire (Ontario and Palm Springs) and other California locations protect you and maximize your net profits.  And if you are involved in crypto currency, check out what a bitcoin tax attorney can do for you.