As cannabis continues its inevitable journey into the mainstream of American culture, a new word has entered the lexicon: the “Cannabar.”
Popular for decades in Amsterdam at the ubiquitous joint-offering coffee shops, those looking for a place to smoke cannabis socially in the United States have so far been forced into the privacy of their own homes, but a new trend is pushing the “Cannabar” into the open air: Weed Weddings.
The idea was recently popularized by John Elledge and Whitney Alexander, whose wedding on a Christmas tree farm in West Linn, Oregon provided a smoke tent in which guests were invited, with the supervision of a “budtender,” to partake in the 13 varieties of cannabis Elledge had grown himself.
While the laws vary from state to state, recreational cannabis use is currently legal on private property in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., so if raising a pipe rather than a glass of champagne better suits your lifestyle, here’s how to make it happen.
1) Make Sure It Is Legal to Consume Cannabis in Your State
Laws across the United States are in a period of rapid change as voters continue to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado, Washington State, Oregon, Washington, D.C. and Alaska. Therefore, some due diligence is required on your part to check your state and local laws. Check our PROHBTD States page for more information, and if your state has yet to be featured, the Marijuana Policy Project is another good option.
If you live in a Medical Marijuana (MMJ) state, make sure to check the legal limit and rules regarding consumption on private land. Generally, unless everyone has an MMJ card, few guests would be able to enjoy your cannabar.
In Oregon where recreational use is now legal, up to 8 ounces are allowed recreationally, and according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC)—the state’s governing body for marijuana—cannabis is legal on private property as long as there isn’t a liquor license involved. Meaning, if it’s on your property, you can serve alcohol as well as long as you don’t charge guests for a drink, but if it’s at a hotel or B&B that already has a liquor license, it may be a no-go for the weed bar. So before you go all out for a cannabar, realize it may be either a cannabar or an open bar because in some states you can’t have your (space) cake and eat it, too.
2) Is a Weed Wedding Right For You?
It’s important to make sure having a weed wedding suits you and your guests. Make a list of reasons for and against. Will Grandma enjoy the atmosphere, possibly taking a toke herself? Or will a cannabar cause unnecessary paranoia and discomfort for those unaccustomed to smoking cannabis or consuming edibles? While it’s your day, the enjoyment of your guests has a huge influence on whether or not you have a great time.
3) Tell Your Wedding Planner
If you have a wedding planner, it’s important to run the idea by them first. They will most likely be happy to make it happen for you and have a working knowledge of local laws and logistics. Bridal Bliss in Oregon, Cannabis Concierge Events and Love and Marij in Colorado are a good place to start.
4) Check to Make Sure Potential Locations Are Cannabis-Friendly
Before you reserve a wedding venue, double-check to make sure the property is privately owned and cannabis-friendly. Bed and Breakfast venues are a good option, as they are considered private property. But if all else fails find that friend with a few acres out back.
5) Find a Supplier
Chances are your local laws will require that you to provide the cannabis yourself, so unless you grow your own plants, make sure to stock up on the legal limit well before your wedding. Do your research on which strains will suit an upbeat and active environment. Sativas are generally considered to be a more active strain, with many hybrids working just as well.
If you’re a fan of edibles and would like to have some at your wedding, keep them away and out of sight from children, and make sure guests know how to handle them. They generally last anywhere from four to 12 hours—and the delayed effects often motivate people into eating too many—so be sure to monitor consumption or stay away from edibles altogether.
6) Hire a “Budtender”
If you’ve decided to have a cannabar, chosen some strains and know where you stand legally, it’s time to find someone who is knowledgeable and friendly. Someone who can make sure those who haven’t smoked since the ʼ60s know the strength of today’s cannabis and act accordingly. Someone who is licensed to check IDs and can keep your kid cousin out of the weed jar. You need a budtender.
There are no current certifications that indicate whether someone is a professional budtender, so unless you know the perfect person for the job, there are a couple routes you could take.
A) Go to one of your local dispensaries and poach one of their friendly, knowledgeable budtenders for your special day. Elledge and Alexander used a budtender from the Portland dispensary Nectar.
B) Check out these staffing agencies, Hemp Staff, staffmmj.com or Ms. Mary Staffing.
Like a great bartender, the perfect budtender can make all the difference.
7) Be Responsible
While cannabars can be a great way to get guests to relax and have a good time, it’s important to remember that cannabis has psychoactive effects and those who drive and smoke could get a DUI just as easily as with alcohol. Guests who drive to the wedding should have a designated driver or a place to sleep it off within walking distance. But as cannabis continues to be normalized, chances are having a cannabar at your wedding will be a huge hit.
"We were shocked by how much people loved it," Elledge said of his reception. "I'm still getting a couple of texts a day from guests who enjoyed the weed tent."
Just make sure you tell your caterer to provide plenty of snacks throughout the night.
Main photo credit: Love And Marij.