Reception

Cannabis Sparks Up Weddings In Legal Weed States

Couples getting married in a few select states have been choosing to add a dope new option for their reception: legalized cannabis. Cannabusinesses have been booming in the states where recreational marijuana has been legalized, which currently include: Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Nevada, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine. Naturally, wedding vendors are blazing a trail to cash in on that legal green.

Anyone trying to take advantage of legal changes in their state may find navigating all these emerging vendors daunting at first. Luckily, services like Irie Weddings & Events are popping up to keep track of and coordinate with all these 420-friendly vendors. Weddings planners at Love and Marij even work with state regulators and their wedding vendor partners to clarify shifting bud regulations. The diversity of their guide’s offerings shows just how much the weed-friendly wedding landscape has grown in the last few years.

Join the Party

Business has been growing so much that a travelling Cannabis Wedding Expo has been showcasing vendors throughout cities in California and Colorado. This Expo is put together by the same people who run Irie Weddings & Events. Irie partners with weed-friendly vendors to take care of almost every possible wedding need: caterers, decorators, florists, and even “budtenders” to staff your cannabis bar.

Man in cap smoking, looking kind of stoned
Photo by Valentin Antonini

Find A Guide

Budtenders play a crucial role in making sure your guests can get adequately (and safely) lifted. They basically manage cannabis consumption throughout your reception, serving up edibles or pre-rolled joints, as well as making sure all your vapes, pens, and even bongs are ready to go. Most budtenders work with you before the big day to figure out the best plant strains to stock your bar, as well as the ideal combination of edibles and smokables for your guest list. Having someone behind the bar will also prevent anyone from getting a little too eager with their brownie intake.

 

Pick Your Place

Cannabis wedding

The lynchpin to pulling off a weed-friendly wedding is locating a venue that doesn’t mind if guests consume cannabis on their premises. This is where things get complicated: in many states, you can’t have a marijuana consumption license and a liquor license in the same location. Of course, vendors have figured out workarounds. In Denver, the cannabis tourism bus service Loopr offers to park outside your venue and serve as a designated consumption spot. Many venues also place the alcohol and cannabis bars in separate locations, having each license only cover designated spots on their premises.

 

Make Sure Everyone Is Down

Irie began bringing together all these different 420-friendly vendors after the company’s founders witnessed an unfortunate weed-related wedding snafu. Co-founder Madlyne Kelly explained that back when the company served as cannabis-friendly wedding florists, a portion of the wedding party decided to smoke some of their arrangements. “The groomsmen chose to, in private, while they were getting ready, share a joint between the six of them. Totally private moment, it was great.”

But not every vendor involved in this wedding knew this was a possibility. “The photographer walked in to capture some of those getting ready moments and the dude got uncomfortable and left. Left this couple at the altar with zero photos of their wedding.” The founders of Irie saw this as a moment to expand their business and make sure that this never happened to another couple again. By working with vendors to educate them on cannabis, couples have had access to people they know will be totally comfortable with all their wedding plans.

Save Some Cash

In addition to helping you take the edge off on the big day, it also turns out that going green might even help you save green. According to Mic.com, replacing alcohol with cannabis at your reception could save you as much as $5,250. Your guests will be able to get sufficiently inebriated after just a few tokes, which is much cheaper than the five or six drinks each of them would be drinking otherwise (this is assuming a $350 ounce of bud should be enough for about 100 guests) Those drinks come out to $20 to $80, depending on what you’re serving.

A group of men smoke on a dance floor
Photo by Victor Van Welden

Keep An Eye Out For The Man

So with all these booming businesses and increasing acceptance, weed weddings must be the future, right? Well, unfortunately, even though all these vendors are emerging to cater to your weed-friendly wedding, the industry could still be in a risky position. Many analysts were skeptical of the industry’s growth potential after Jeff Sessions was appointed attorney general. As a Senator, Sessions once took to the floor and declared “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Having him at the helm of the Justice Dept. put businesses in legal state on high alert.

In fact, just at the start of this year, Attorney Gen. Sessions rescinded Obama administration guidelines that discouraged federal prosecutors from using resources to go after marijuana growers and sellers who followed their own state laws. Marijuana vendors are therefore in a tricky position: they could get in trouble for violating federal law even though they are obeying state law.

Making sure businesses are compliant with layers of different federal, state, and municipal laws can be tough. Steve Owens, the CEO of Adherence Compliance (a company that helps cannabusinesses make sure they’re on the right side of the law), told Forbes that while Colorado has a solid compliance score, “compliance is the coming storm in California.” In that state, business operators average a rate of 16 compliance infractions during a given inspection.

B.Y.O.Weed

What sort of things do businesses do to stay compliant? Irie themselves are only contracted for their wedding planning service and don’t actually sell cannabis to their clients. They ask all their couples to purchase their weed (from a recommended dispensary) at least three days before the wedding and to bring the receipt. This helps Irie ensure that their clients adhere to Colorado’s gifting laws. Irie is also planning an expansion into California. Their co-founder, Madlyne Kelly, explained that their operations in California would be able to use the same system to comply to state laws as Colorado, since both states will have “gifting laws” related to cannabis.

Gift Your Grass

Kelly explained that, under gifting laws, cannabis can be served by a couple to their guests, as long as no money is exchanged. “We just can’t exceed that one ounce to one person. One adult 21 and over can gift one ounce of cannabis to another adult 21 and over. That can come in the form of concentrate, [or] that can come as flowers.” (This one ounce only applies to flower cannabis. The maximum gifting quantities are 8g for oil concentrate and 800mg for edibles.) Irie uses gifting law guidelines to make sure that both vendors and customers feel comfortable and make clear that all parties are operating within the law. Even though Sessions’ move against legal states at the start of the year scared some, Kelly assures that Irie has “experienced no fluctuation in business due to the revocation of the Cole memo.”

Plan Ahead, But Remain Flexible

In spite of the continued prohibition on weed at the federal level, the industry expects their 2017 haul to come out at over $9.7 billion,. While this is all good news, policy could change between the time you plan your wedding and the time it actually takes place. —potentially scrambling all your plans dangerously close to your wedding date. Be sure to check your own state’s laws before booking anything.

— Vic Vaiana

 

Bottom Line

Weddings will only get more green as more states legalize, but keep in mind that these laws are in flux and could ultimately change.

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