Cannabis Legalization and It’s Effect on Event Planning

As we enter into a new decade, the legalization of marijuana continues to be a hot topic of discussion, particularly among meeting and event planners. As of January 1, 2020, Chicago has legalized marijuana and dispensaries are popping up all over the city. At PlannerPalooza in November, we were joined by experts in the cannabis industry who weighed in on how these new laws will affect planners, venues, and vendors. Here are three things to keep in mind when planning an event in a marijuana-friendly environment:

Know Local Laws

As it stands right now, 11 states have full-scale medicinal and recreational marijuana laws in place, while 33 states have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes, according to panelist Donna B. More, Partner at Fox Rothschild LLP. Because there tends to be so much gray area with what is classified as medicinal or recreational, it is important to understand the local laws for the cities and states for the event you are planning. Hotels may not support the addition of a marijuana feature on-site, and you may need to acquire a license to host such an event said More. In addition to licensing, look into insurances that may be needed either at the venue or for a one-off event. Insurance companies are becoming increasingly more comfortable with insuring the marijuana industry. Also, understand the importance of signage and distributed information as local laws dictate; making health claims, for example, is typically illegal. 

Consider the Overall Audiences

From attendees to your sponsors, make sure you know your audience inside and out when bringing on a weed feature at your event. Panelist Doug Lambert, Managing Partner at Scale Momentum, LLC noted that it’s important to research other brands and sponsor representation prior to embarking on a marijuana feature or activation at the event since other brands may not be on board with the association of marijuana at the event. Panel moderator Ryan Crane, CEO of Tempo, said that the recent uptick in brands evolving into marijuana-friendly will almost certainly dictate a larger number of events that will house weed-based activations, particularly the food and beverage, retail, and cosmetic industries. Provide resources for your audience so that they can become aware of laws, regulations, and opportunities surrounding new legalizations.

Employ the Right People on Site

An event cannot function without a committed staff of employees to help with logistics. When bringing a weed activation or feature into the mix, it is important to have the right people in place to streamline legalities and any potential issues. To ensure that all bases are covered, More suggested teaming up with the venue to ensure that their general counsel okays the presence of a cannabis company on site (or any giveaways they may have), as well as signing on the lawyer of said company. She noted that cannabis companies also have a wealth of resources to keep themselves covered, and are often willing to provide those resources to partners.