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Tuesday, August 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wedded bliss with cannabis

By Linda Ball EVERCANNABIS Correspondent

Summer wedding season is approaching, and plenty of brides-to-be are in planning mode for the big day.

While this isn’t necessarily news, what is different is the presence of legal cannabis, perhaps as a treat for grown-up guests or even as part of the décor.

Wedding watchers in Seattle, Portland and Denver have commented on creative ways that brides and wedding planners have incorporated this now-legal herb into the festivities. But the trend has not reached Spokane reached so far.

Jaime Johnson of Jaime Johnson Events in Spokane said she’s yet to have any requests for a weed-friendly wedding but “as long as the client follows the law,” it wouldn’t hurt her feelings.

Following proper protocol

Making your good time a high time can be OK, as long as certain rules as followed.

Brian Smith, communications director with the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, said if a wedding is on private property and adult guests are by invitation only, cannabis is allowed.

If the wedding party secured a banquet license so they could alcohol, the board is notified, which gives it the right to show up and inspect. But “it’s not high on its list of priorities,” Smith said.

In other words, it’s unlikely LCB agents are going to show up to inspect your wedding. If there is no alcohol served at the event, there is no connection to the LCB, he said.

Initial cannabis rules have also eased up a bit.

After July 2018, it became legal for adults 21 and over to share cannabis or cannabis products. Consumption of cannabis is still illegal in public, thought; if consumed at a private venue, it needs to be shielded from public view.

Johnson said she would expect guests to follow vaping and smoking rules that apply to the specific venue. Most venues have their own in-house planners, she said, but as long as the environment is safe and the rules are followed, she doesn’t see a problem.

If an event is held on private property, the couple throwing the party would have to be sure that the property or venue owner was comfortable with guests partaking. Do-it-yourself weddings – say, in your back yard – are more likely to be cannabis-friendly, Johnson said.

On the rise out of state

Cannabis-friendly weddings have already been tested in other markets. Denver started a Cannabis Wedding Expo in 2016, which has expanded to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco.

All four cities held expos this year, giving couples the chance to learn how to include cannabis in their wedding with class and taste. This can include custom hemp wedding dresses, cannabis floral arrangements, venues, caterers, photographers and transportation companies.

Nora Sheils, owner of Bridal Bliss in Portland, is a Gonzaga University graduate who studied psychology and business. She won the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership Program 17 years ago, giving her the seed money to begin her business.

Over the years, she has organized a handful of cannabis-friendly weddings. In Oregon, alcohol and weed bars must be kept separate so she’s had weddings with a cannabis lounge, even a teepee comfortably outfitted with cushions for seating and a budtender to serve guests.

“If guests aren’t comfortable or it’s not their thing, then they don’t have to go in,” Sheils said.

Most of her weed weddings have been at private residences because most Oregon venues don’t allow it.

Sheils said she started getting requests for “infused” weddings shortly after legalization began in Oregon.

One of her first such weddings in 2015 was covered by a local television news broadcast; the coverage went viral and was even picked up by Jimmy Fallon.

At this wedding, she said a grandma who hadn’t smoked in a long time partook and had “the best time!” The wedding couple was thrilled.

Is Spokane ready?

Bob Adolfson, the owner of Glover Mansion Events, based in the historic Glover Mansion, has found ways to say “yes” to events where cannabis is present.

The mansion is a private venue, and although he’s not had any weed weddings at the mansion, he has hosted several cannabis industry events. The attendees were all I-502 licensees, and were allowed to consume in the private side yard. He said the cannabis events at the mansion have been positive with a generally mellow crowd.

“The events are tightly controlled, but it’s been a good experience,” Adolfson said.

No alcohol is typically served, since this requires a banquet license and will alert the LCB.

Since the Glover Mansion does not have a liquor license it doesn’t present that problem. However, in the next year or so, Adolfson said he’s looking at getting a liquor license, which means he couldn’t allow any events with cannabis.

Adolfson said he just wants to be sure everything is safe and legal. Although two-thirds of his business is weddings, he’s yet to have any requests for a cannabis-friendly wedding.

“It’s the five-year rule here,” he joked. “Spokane seems to be always five years behind the Coast.”

Linda Ball is a freelance journalist based in Washington State. In her 18 years as a journalist she has covered a wide variety of topics including environmental issues, city hall, arts and entertainment, education, human interest stories and now the rapidly-changing cannabis industry.

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