Patti J. Shock, CPCE, educational consultant at The International School of Hospitality, talked about cannabis and the meetings and events industry during a recent presentation at MeetingsNet’s Las Vegas Corporate Invitational Destination Showcase. Her approach to the increasing legalization of marijuana is that meeting planners need to educate themselves on how their guests can be affected. She said, “Even if you don’t plan to have pot at an event, people are going to come high or bring their own.”
According to Shock, nine states and Washington, D.C., now allow recreational marijuana use, which means that more than one in five American adults can smoke, vape, or eat it legally. On the plus side, Shock says that in states where marijuana is legal, binge drinking rates have declined. However, just because marijuana is legal in a destination doesn’t mean your guests can get high wherever they like.
It’s Legal, but Is It Allowed?
In Denver, Colo., adults may use marijuana in special lounges and some coffee shops, etc., where there are tastings of different kinds, and even classes on menu pairings with pot. But in Las Vegas, it is illegal to smoke marijuana on the street, in a vehicle, or in a hotel room. Shock says that means only people who live there can smoke it, in their own homes. Tourists tend to rely on edibles.
Shock says that when marijuana is smoked or vaped, the user instantly feels high, but when the drug is ingested it is likely to take at least an hour for any effect to be felt. That often leads to people thinking it isn’t working and taking more than they should. Shock said that if one of your attendees is in that situation, the good news is no one has ever died from a pot overdose, they just need to wait it out. She recommended giving them sugar such as a regular Coke (not a diet Coke) and letting them sleep.
Sativa vs. Indica
Shock said there are different kinds of cannabis hybrids used for different purposes. Sativa is used mainly during the day when the user wants to stay focused, and indica is taken more at night when the user wants to relax of sleep.
CBD vs. THC
There are also different components of marijuana to be aware of. CBD, or cannabidiol, is often used for medical purposes and does not give users a high. THC of tetrahydrocannabinol is the cannabinoid that gives the psychoactive effect know as a high.
Do Not Mix with Alcohol
Shock’s main piece of advice for planners who know that marijuana use will take place is to avoid letting guests mix it with alcohol. She said, “It’s the alcohol that makes people crazy. You don’t want to mix with marijuana because pot will get the blame when it is really the alcohol. Alcohol can make people aggressive and belligerent, marijuana will leave people mellow and relaxed.”
Secondly, Shock says that if a planner’s company or client has a corporate drug policy they should follow that, but if they want to provide a waiver for marijuana use it should probably look a lot like a waiver for alcohol use. She said, “Don’t let them drive, and control the amount they can ingest, just like with alcohol.”
Shock says the third thing to note is, “If you are going to have marijuana you’d better have good food!” She said that while marijuana enhances everything, including food and music, it will also make your guests hungry.