I doobie? Weed wedding the latest sign of spread of cannabis events

At a recent wedding reception in Chicago, guests gathered to toast the newlyweds at the bar. Glasses were lined up in front of them, but no alcohol was poured. Instead, marijuana vapor was pumped into the upside-down glasses, which were then lifted and inhaled in unison.

“A lot of people were surprised,” bride Aja Heinlein said. “They didn’t even know that was something they could do.”

In the new world of cannabis, consumption at private events such as weddings, holiday parties and corporate events is becoming more common.

The state law that legalized recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over, starting in 2020, prohibits public consumption and specifically allows it only at licensed cannabis stores or tobacco stores, if the local government allows it.

Chicago police previously said that the ban applies to parks, restaurants, bars and front porches, or anywhere one can be seen by the public.

But event sponsors consider invitation-only and ticketed events for adults to be private and are holding such events regularly in the city and elsewhere.

The wedding between Heinlein and groom Josh Christianson was held at Salvage One in Chicago, which sells architectural artifacts and holds events as well.

High-Minded Events of Chicago offers budtenders to host cannabis bars, but doesn’t supply the product. Only licensed retailers may legally sell it. So the wedding couple bought the weed themselves from a local dispensary and let their hired budtender hand it out to guests in the form of joints, bongs, dabs or the aforementioned vapor shots.

“We talked to friends about it,” Heinlein said. “A lot of people now prefer not to drink alcohol and only partake in cannabis. We wanted everyone to have a good time, so we put two and two together.”

The bride and groom also split a joint themselves.

“I thought it was great,” Christianson said. “All my friends were super into it. It prevented people from going a little too crazy with the alcohol and really added to the chill atmosphere. Everyone knew their own limits.”

Not too chill, though. The dance floor was crowded until the end.

So what did mom and dad think of it?

The bride’s parents are huge Grateful Dead fans, so are used to cannabis culture. The groom’s parents, who are more conservative, were worried guests would “hot box” the venue by filling it with smoke, but, Christianson said, they “tolerated its presence.”

The service with two budtenders cost about $2,000, plus $450 for the weed, but the couple considered it worth the “once in a lifetime” special occasion.

High-Minded Events owner Phil Cooper’s biggest business is doing events for cannabis brands, including education and field marketing, and special events for Gay Pride, the Cannabis Business Association of Illinois and the Budtender’s Choice Awards.

He discourages people from offering edibles at events, because they take so long to take effect and then to dissipate, and people may accidentally take too much.

Another option is cannabis-infused beverages, which have a much faster onset and are more like alcoholic drinks with which people are more familiar.

For the future, the Illinois Cannabis Consumption Association promotes creating more clarity for cannabis consumption, to make it easier for municipalities to allow it.

Cooper is happy to be working in traditional events such as weddings with a new twist, saying, “It was an opportunity to take something that I knew about and was passionate about, and provide a service.”