State Fair opens with a bong - Albuquerque Journal

State Fair opens with a bong

Carlos Castro fixes lights on the Sizzler ride in preparation for the New Mexico State Fair at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022. The New Mexico State Fair runs from Sept. 8 through 18. (Chancey Bush/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

Let’s be perfectly clear on this: You can not walk around the New Mexico State Fair toking on a fatty.

However, nearly anything you may have ever wanted to know about marijuana will be explained in a “Discovering Cannabis” exhibit in the Manuel Lujan Building at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque.

The New Mexico State Fair opens today and runs through Sept. 18.

The title sponsor of this first-of-its-kind exhibit at the fair is the Verdes Foundation, which operates dispensaries in Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe.

“We are what we term a legacy dispensary,” said Kelly Butterman, the lead cannabis educator for Verdes. “We’ve been open for 12 years in New Mexico, and we’re homegrown, and locally and privately owned. We’ve been a medical cannabis dispensary for most of that time, and now we do medical and recreational. But we have always placed great importance on cannabis education.”

Education about the different industries in the state is also part of the mission of the New Mexico State Fair, “and there’s no better event to educate the over-21 cannabis curious,” said State Fair general manager Dan Mourning.

As part of her job, Butterman said she regularly does public speaking at libraries, support groups, pharmacists associations and doctors groups “so people can learn about this plant and how to use it wisely.”

Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis more than 20 years ago, Butterman said she didn’t like the way prescribed pharmaceuticals made her feel, so she began searching for an alternative.

“I started learning more about cannabis and ended up getting my medical cannabis card,” she said. It was employees at Verdes who helped educate Butterman and provided the right product to treat her illness.

“My doctor wasn’t keen on it whatsoever, but after he saw how it helped me he got more interested, and before he retired he said to me that if he was a younger doctor he would have studied this as medicine.”

Using large colorful posters and speaker presentations, visitors will learn about the different types of delivery methods, including smoking, edibles, tinctures and topical oils and creams; the characteristics, onset and duration of each; how the body’s endocannabinoid system uses cannabis, something that took researchers 30 years to understand; the use of cannabis for wellness and in the treatment of pain, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder; and the role of terpenes, the aromatic compounds in plants.

Representatives from the state Regulation and Licensing Department will be on hand to speak about the regulations for cannabis growers and dispensaries, as well as the laws that apply to using cannabis medicinally and recreationally.

New Mexico in June 2021 became the 17th state to legalize recreational cannabis, with commercial sales beginning in April.

Visitors will also get fun facts and information on the history of cannabis, including how an English doctor went to India in 1839 and observed people there consuming a drink called bhang (pronounced bong), which he later determined was made with cannabis. “He brought it back to England but it didn’t grow well there, so he started making tinctures with it,” Butterman said.

Among those using the tinctures was Queen Victoria, who found it relieved menstrual cramps.

The Discovering Cannabis exhibit is open only to people age 21 and older, “and there will be no free samples,” said general manager Mourning.

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