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A Nuptial High: The Booming Business of Cannabis at Weddings
As a follow-up to Oregon Bride magazine's recent coverage of the state's first-ever cannabis bar at a wedding, our legal friends at Avvo are sharing what you need know to successfully host your own.
Is lighting a joint the new champagne toast? Indeed, for many couples, pot is a welcome addition to their wedding day. Whether it’s a bouquet of buds, edible cannabis wedding favors, or an open weed bar, marijuana-infused weddings are a booming business (there’s even a Cannabis Wedding Expo). If you’re planning the event in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, or Oregon, where recreational marijuana is legal, certain restrictions could still create legal issues if you don’t do your homework first. And what if your wedding will be held in a state where only medical marijuana is legal? Do you have options for hosting a pot-infused wedding without encountering legal troubles?
Choose a pot-friendly wedding venue
You may want a cannabis-friendly wedding, but the venue that’s hosting your nuptials may not be of the same mindset. “Always get the permission of the venue where you will be holding the event, regardless of the laws of your state and local government,” says Jessica McElfresh, a criminal defense attorney in San Diego.
“Some venues may have the right to prohibit marijuana use on their premises, and it may still be prohibited in public spaces, such as on the street outside of the venue,” says McElfresh. Even venues in states where pot is recreationally legal may be hesitant about overtly allowing it. A cannabis-heavy wedding reception could theoretically affect their liability.
There are, of course, ways to maneuver around some of the obvious complaints—like the scent of marijuana. “If the couple is interested in burning or smoking weed at the wedding or reception, I advise incorporating white sage to burn, too. Sage can overpower the smell of marijuana, but it also has historically spiritual, religious, and ceremonial affiliations,” says Ivy Lumpkin, a certified wedding planner, venue manager, and owner of Voulez Events in San Francisco. “Venues are less inclined to infringe upon spiritual or religious rituals requested by the client.”
Seek help to plan a bud-infused wedding bash
Hiring a wedding planner with expertise in cannabis-laced weddings can help couples plan a bud-happy and safe event that honestly represents their appreciation for the consumable. “One way I get around legalities of serving weed at weddings, regardless of venue rules, is with edibles, like chocolates, candy, lollipops, or brownies packaged as a wedding favor,” says Lumpkin. “Guests pick up on the suggestive packaging, which communicates ‘This is for later.’”
Vape pens are also an option. “Some venues allow vaping but no smoking, others allow edibles but no vaping. As a venue manager, we know any marijuana-related activity on-site must be a certain distance away from where alcohol is served. Furthermore, we don’t allow consumption on-site but we have allowed for a particular level of distribution on the property,” says Lumpkin.
If you’re planning a cannabis-laced wedding without a pro
If you’re not using a wedding planner, research your wedding site and the state’s marijuana laws carefully. Attempting to sneak in some bud is asking for trouble from the venue (and for the venue) and potentially for yourself. Being up-front about your cannabis festivities is the best way to go.
Designate handlers carefully for cannabis-related tasks too. “Traveling with cannabis is not wise, especially when flying, so let the local party planner or best man or lady handle the shopping,” says Chris Husong of ClubM, a pot delivery service available throughout California.
Not sure of the best places to pick up your wedding favors or groomsmen and bridesmaid gifts? “Prepare yourself for the festivities by doing some quick due diligence on sites like Weedmaps or Cannabis Now,” says Husong. And be generous with your bud. “Purchase the cannabis legally and offer it to your guests for free to avoid any implication that you may be illegally selling marijuana,” advises McElfresh.
Policing the consumption of wedding weed
If you are located in a state where marijuana is only medically legal, then you have a bit of legwork to do. “In terms of legality in California, whenever patients trade or gift cannabis, they are supposed to check each other’s recommendations to ensure neither is breaking the law,” says Dr. Emily Earlenbaugh, co-founder of Mindful Cannabis Consulting in Northern California. How do you make this happen before the event? On the RSVP of course. Right alongside “Fish or steak?” you can include a box for the guest to check if they are a cannabis patient and request a photocopy of their doctor’s recommendation, explains Earlenbaugh. “This wouldn’t really create much extra work, and cannabis patients who have recommendations are usually used to being asked for them.”
The best rule of thumb, no matter what you’re planning, is to always check the rules on cannabis consumption. “Your state or local government may license the sale of cannabis, but that does not mean that consuming cannabis at all locations is legal. Individual cities and counties within states that have legalized marijuana use may be allowed to enact their own bans,” says McElfresh.
Don’t ruin the day by breaking the law
And if you’re planning a wedding in a state where no consumption of pot is legalized? Well, if your heart is set on incorporating pot into the big day, consider holding the event in a state where it’s legal—or wait and hope that your locale joins the “green side” as soon as possible. If you’re unsure, be sure to educate yourself about the status of pot consumption in your state, and maybe get some answers from a local attorney.
Elizabeth Weiss is a freelance writer and web content developer. Her work has appeared in Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Playboy, Marie Claire, and other print and online publications. Elizabeth also writes about legal issues in everyday life on the Avvo Stories blog. Avvo is a legal marketplace that offers quick, personalized, and flat-rate services. Visit avvo.com for any legal needs, such as to file for divorce online.