What to know about cannabis at meetings and events

During live educational programming at BizBash | Connect’s recent Detroit Marketplace, the The first question attendees asked following a panel discussion on cannabis at events – where HOLISTIK Wellness reiterated that it served CBD-infused mocktails on the show floor – was, “Where can we find us your stand?”

Clearly, there’s a demand when it comes to more THC and CBD information at events, and our panelists at the session — which you can watch on-demand here — espoused from many benefits, as well as the complexities, involved in incorporating cannabis. products and activations. Below are six things you might not know about cannabis at events, taken from our BizBash | Session Connect Detroit Protecting Your Events for the Future: What THC Legalization Means for Event Producers.

1. Major events have incorporated cannabis – the ‘stoner stigma’ is outdated.
Have you ever heard of Grass Lands? It is considered the first cannabis experience held at a major American music festival, and this year it turned four. The experience, held in conjunction with San Francisco’s Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, allows festival-goers to purchase exclusive products on-site and try them out in a safe space cheekily named “Garden of Weed’n.” And, of course, live music and food vendors keep the party going.

“Outside Lands has a pop-up experience called Grass Lands – it’s an entire space for the consumption, sale and enjoyment of cannabis,” said panelist Austin Johnston, CEO and Founder of AKJOHNSTON. “It’s got a whole vibe… [this] was, I believe, the first professional approach to quality branding and professional execution. It’s a safe environment that really made people feel good without the ‘smoking stigma’. It was a place where you felt really engaged with cannabis.”

Johnston advised: “For those who are afraid to approach it, be really bold in that approach – it’s not the stoners in the corner under the bleachers anymore. If it’s still in your head, get rid of it… there’s a lot of fun things to do with it.

“We’re all looking for more fun items to give away to our customers,” added panelist Jes Gordon, owner and creative director of jesGORDON/properFUN.

2. Education is paramount.
It may go without saying, but any event producer wishing to host a cannabis experience should be familiar with the plant.

“Cannabis education is so important,” reiterated panelist Vanessa Oliver, CEO of Infin8ly Elevated Events and Cannabis Wedding Expo. “And as an event planner, our job is to make sure people feel comfortable. [It’s important to] understand that there is versatility when it comes to people who consume [cannabis]and the way we engage them with that comfort and that communication – or the over-communication when there will be cannabis at an event – really shows that you are knowledgeable and respect that there is a level of naivety that comes when you first get into cannabis.”

And if you can’t become an expert quickly, hire someone who already is. Another panelist during our session was Elise McRoberts, the founder of The Hashinista. McRoberts has worked in the cannabis industry in California for almost 10 years. His consulting and event production company organizes cannabis-centric gatherings, like farm-to-table dinners with an optional totally alcohol-free dosing experience, complete with music and after-dinner tastings. His specialty is helping brands elevate events without that “stoner stigma” and curating experiences for everything from dinner parties to other food-centric tasks, comedy, dance, art, and more. .

“We help cannabis brands express themselves in the best possible way, reaching targets and new consumers, and helping non-cannabis [brands] and curious cannabis consumers are adding cannabis to their events,” McRoberts said.

And be prepared to answer frequently asked questions, advised panelist TJ Stouder, CEO and co-founder of HOLISTIK Wellness and MyHi. He said the biggest question his company asks is, “Will I fail a drug test?”

“The correct answer, no matter what you’re told, is yes, you could fail a drug test if you take CBD every day,” Stouder said. “You could fail as THC builds up in the system. This is the correct answer. We put this on our site because we want customers to feel comfortable with how they consume CBD or THC.”

3. It is about creating a comfortable environment and it will not be the same experience for all participants.

Any event that incorporates cannabis must ensure that it is staged properly and safely.

“You really want to be in control of your environment when trying cannabis, so don’t have other factors like alcohol or other things in your system,” McRoberts advised. “And then ideally being in an environment where you’re going to feel comfortable. So as event producers, creating that framework [includes] having no other things that can interact with the cannabis, having very clear labeling and dosing, and having experienced people on hand to help in case someone doesn’t have a pleasant experience. And get ready for harm reduction too.

Oliver also recommends keeping in mind those who choose not to participate. “It’s about creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable,” she explained. “They don’t have to participate in it, but they can observe, and from there it builds their curiosity, and from there it prompts questions, and maybe they’ll explore it a bit. more. But being very subtle and approachable and attentive will really help create that experience for everyone.”

4. Marketing can be tricky.

Some planners might worry that marketing cannabis for an event might get in the way – so how do you do it right?

“It depends on the event,” McRoberts said. “Many full cannabis events are completely private for partners, target audience, or the B2B industry. In terms of non-cannabis [event] adding cannabis, I’ll use a private club in San Francisco as an example – they’ll actually market it as a “micro-dosing party: come experience micro-dosing with this company and brand, and it’s free for members. We will see some of it. In terms of THC marketing, these private events don’t have the same options available in terms of Facebook and paid advertising – everything will be flagged. I even had a press release that was flagged because the word “hashish” was in the title, so even traditional PR can be tricky. You get creative around that.”

Johnston added that if you feel the need to communicate simple expectations such as “because this is an outdoor event, you should bring a light jacket,” then it’s wise to communicate expectations. of cannabis, especially if it is a smoking event. In this case, Johnston recommends creating designated areas for it and messaging before the event to be mindful of those who might not be comfortable with this form of drinking.

5. The laws where the event will take place should be reviewed.
During the Q&A, an audience member shared that while she’s interested in bringing cannabis into her events, it’s hard to know where to find information about its legality. McRoberts said that no matter what state you’re in, you can’t have “cross-contaminating” alcohol and cannabis.

“I hosted an event in a space where they had a liquor license,” she explains, “so what we had to do for the night was called ‘give back the liquor license’ – literally lock up all the booze on site. It was in a space that no guests [could access]. And during the entire event, no alcohol was served.”

As for where to find information like this in print, McRoberts (and Stouder) said it’s all online – for example, in California it’s the California Department of Cannabis Control; in Michigan, it’s the Cannabis Regulatory Agency; etc.—and reiterated that they are not legal experts.

6. Just by considering and discussing cannabis at events, you help break down barriers.
The panel agreed that it was encouraging to see more states legalizing cannabis. “We can break the stigma together by talking about the plant,” McRoberts said.

Later in the session, she explained, “I look forward to more states breaking down those barriers and people seeing that cannabis can be for you… There are so many different ways the plant can help you. I hope people find that because pharmaceuticals and alcohol are very destructive.” She added, “Try and see how you feel, not saying you have to give up everything you already love.”

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