It's time to discuss a controversial trend creeping into the meetings and events industry: the legalization of recreational cannabis. Whether you are for it or against it, the reality is the drug is becoming decriminalized or completely legalized in more countries (most recently Canada) and across America's 50 states, with some saying federal legalization is inevitable. Most recently, during America's midterm elections earlier this month, four states has cannabis-related bills on the ballot, with Michigan becoming the latest state to vote in favor of legalized recreational use.
So with all the buzz around cannabis (no pun intended!), planners have a lot of things to think about: What if I host an event or meeting in an area with legal cannabis? Do I even dare incorporate it into our events? Are there any legal repercussions?
Check out the answers to these questions below, as well as other things planners should know about the impact cannabis has made on our industry.
Cannabis is Expected to be Big for Business (and Therefore Events)
As someone who monitors the news every day for Aventri, I've noticed an explosion of articles about the cannabis industry in recent months. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine now has an entire section devoted to "Canabusiness" on their website and a recent article says it's an industry worth billions. As a result, cannabis-based events have also popped up everywhere such as the Cannabis Conference, the International Cannabis Business Conference, and the Cannabis Science Conference.
The bottom line is, if you're in a country or state with legalized cannabis, especially in the big cities, you can expect it to become a bigger part of the local culture, tourism and business scenes. You may even be asked to plan a cannabis-based event or two!
More Cannabis Activities and Experiences Are Now Available
It's common for planners to incorporate local specialties and culture into their events, and with more countries and states legalizing cannabis comes more interesting (albeit controversial) opportunities along with it. At the end of the day, legal or not, activities at events involving cannabis may always be inappropriate depending on your audience or industry, but if you think there's a place for it at your next event, there's an increasing amount of options to choose from. To name a few, these activities include "bud bars" which combine product education with sampling, cannabis-infused F&B options or meals, and wellness activities aimed at reducing stress with cannabis.
This might all sound really overwhelming to even consider, but as legalization increases, the more people are curious. Activities like these offer a place to experiment in a safe and controlled environment, which may be appealing for attendees.
Legal Things to Be Considered
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about increased cannabis legalization is to do your homework, whether you plan on incorporating it into your event or not. Different states or even cities within a country with legalization have different laws and regulations and it's important to know what exactly is accessible instead of just assuming. Age-limits, health codes and permits are all key things to look into. There's also a lot of confusion at local airports to consider, especially in the United States where state and federal laws do not always aline.
It may be a good idea to have someone mention the local laws or include them in signage or in a waiver if cannabis is a part of your event program. You may also want to think about including something about cannabis in your event staff etiquette policies as well.
Overall, even if all of this talk of cannabis sounds completely far-fetched in terms of affecting your events, it's something planners should pay attention to just as they would to any changing local laws. The important thing is to make sure your staff and attendees are smart and safe if they choose to encounter legal cannabis if it's available to them.
Have you planned a cannabis-based event? How do you think legalization will impact business and events? Share in the comments below!