The Northwest is leading the nation in legalizing recreational marijuana, with voters in Alaska and Oregon recently approving pro-marijuana legislation. The two states join Washington, Colorado and the District of Columbia in allowing the personal use of cannabis. With the evolving laws going into effect, and with more states likely to follow suit, recreational marijuana use may very well be an avenue meeting and event planners will be asked to consider when planning private group functions.
Kelli Bielema, owner of Shindig Events in Seattle, says that pot at parties is definitely something people are interested in and talking about. While it is still in the infant stages, she admits, “It’s happening; it’s on the horizon.”
Over the past year, Bielema has been asked about the possibility of having marijuana at parties and events roughly six times, with inquiries coming from individual clients and small businesses. Larger corporate clients, she says, have not inquired about its use at events.
Know the Law
Though recreational marijuana is now legal in an increasing number of states, there are risks and gray areas to be aware of, especially when it comes to events, and many of the laws are still without precedent. Like cigarettes, in Washington, for example, you can’t have a smoking room at a public gathering. As with alcohol, public pot consumption is against the law. Moreover, because marijuana is not legal on the federal level, individuals working in certain fields may still not be able to partake, despite state laws.
The rules and laws governing the use of recreational marijuana are very strict and limited in scope, maintaining a tight window of what you can and can’t do. They regulate where the stores can be located, how they can advertise and store their products, the potency of what they sell, and even restrict the number of stores that a state can have. (In Alaska and Oregon, the sale of recreational marijuana is not yet allowed.)
From a logistical standpoint, pot at private parties poses many of the same concerns as alcohol. One big issue is safety. Partygoers can overdo it when it comes to beer and liquor, and weed is no different. The situation is especially tricky when it comes to edibles. This method takes longer to take effect and run its course, and the impact varies from individual to individual. One concern is that, while waiting for the dose to kick in, more inexperienced consumers will overdo it. This is why there are specific regulations about the potency and amount of the drug that edibles can legally contain.
While serving marijuana at an event may not be an option for you, there are other ways to assist groups that are interested in partaking in, or learning more about, recreational marijuana.
One company, Kush Tourism, has created its very own cottage industry around the newly relaxed laws. Billing itself as “Seattle Marijuana Tourism,” Kush’s larger mission is to promote greater understanding of marijuana across the board. If you’re coming to town to take advantage of legal weed, the company maintains a list of commercial retailers and provides options for overnight accommodations where you can smoke to your heart’s content—primarily through Airbnb and other private resources.
For individuals as well as groups, Kush offers a variety of different tours. You can go on an excursion that looks very much like your average winery tour, where you experience the best of cannabis culture that the city has to offer. If you’re interested in the business side of the industry, you can tour a large-scale production facility where marijuana is grown in a 21,000-square-foot indoor farm. And if you get creative when you’re high, there’s a cannabis-friendly painting class that might be right up your alley.
“Response to our tours has been incredibly positive,” says Michael Gordon, CEO of Kush Tourism. “Our guides are experts on anything you want to know about cannabis … [the tours] allow us to connect in a way that has never been done before.” The company will soon be offering tours in Oregon and Alaska, as well.
To learn more about the laws pertaining to recreational marijuana use in your community, visit these state resources.
Washington state: liq.wa.gov