The stigma surrounding weed still exists. But it’s the simple fact that recreational consumption has now come to some of the most populous states in the country that attitudes are changing.
Ah, the good old days. Remember?
Even just a few years ago, you could fire up that joint, or activate that vape, and suddenly you were the person at the party who everybody shunned, even in states where recreational consumption was legal. The smell of marijuana wafting through the kitchen of a host’s house could get you kicked out.
But now, slowly but surely, that marijuana guy at the party is not the only marijuana guy at the party, and everybody else is either cool with it, or suddenly making the marijuana guy the life of the party. And social consumption bars or coffee shops are either open for business, or on the drawing board.
Well, the stigma is still there. But it’s the simple fact that recreational consumption has now come to some of the most populous states in the country — Illinois, California, and soon, New York.
Cannabis edibles are being included in the menu of professional catering services in places like Georgetown or Beverly Hills, and not with a sort of wink and nod say-no-more sort of situation. But it’s there on the table, along with other non-marijuana confections — maybe with a little plastic marijuana flower on top just to identify it for the canna-curious, or as a warning to the never-cannabis party-goer.
“In my opinion, the stigma is dying,” Emmett Reistroffer told The Fresh Toast during the 2020 National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) conference in Boston. Reistroffer, a cannabis business advocate and compliance consultant, was instrumental in getting the I-300 social consumption law initiative passed in Colorado in 2016 (that still has some issues to be worked out).
“I want to make sure that whatever laws pass and whatever businesses are open, our neighbors or friends who don’t consume cannabis benefit from what we are doing,” he told us. “That means we need to be responsible. That’s why we advocate for lounges and permitted areas so we have a place that is semi-public where we go to consume without infringing on the rights and happiness of other people.”
Andrew Mieure, owner of Top Shelf Budtending, has served over 70,000 guests at private events and weddings in West Hollywood, Las Vegas, Denver and other adult-use states. He pointed to people walking around during a network event at the NCIA conference, drinking beer and wine. “If somebody is smoking, that permeates the entire area,” Mieure said. “That is a drinkable versus a smokable, and they must be treated differently. So we need places to consume that are well ventilated, and people need to be taken care of differently than at bars.”
He also mentioned a sort of vapor cannabis product that is put into a cup, where it stays and can be huffed by a consumer, thereby eliminating the problem of smoke permeating an area.
Reistroffer says that he believes social consumption is now a matter of inevitability. “Even though we are moving forward, we are doing it in a way that is respectful of everyone’s viewpoints and comfort levels,” he said. “So now the question is not should we move forward, but how we move forward. If we embrace it, regulate it, put a license on that business so that they have something to lose, then you are going to see them follow the rules. Those measurements can be put in place.”
He says nothing is too big or impossible, and that people need to just start a conversation about where social consumption could happen. “Slowly, we are making progress with casinos. They just want to make sure that it’s not hurting their business.”