I spent the first hour of the Cannabis Wedding Expo just trying to envision my 91-year-old grandfather learning about marijuana strains from a budtender at my wedding next year.
Pop-Pop, as I call him, is a lot of things. He's playful and easygoing. He’s inventive and adventurous. But a cannabis consumer he is not, and the wedding of his first grandchild seems like an unlikely place to persuade him to smoke a joint.
But I went into this expo open-minded. Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve covered the marijuana industry for more than a year, and I’ve met cannabis consumers from all walks of life: young and old, experienced and amateur.
The two or three dozen cannabis vendors inside the Cambridge hotel ballroom Sunday weren’t fooling themselves, either. They knew that most people approaching them would be like me: a person comfortable with cannabis who is planning an event for 100 or more people who are not comfortable with it.
“I’m really tired of the industry looking a certain way and attracting only certain types of people. We really feel cannabis is the common denominator,” said Madlyne Kelly, co-owner of Irie Weddings and Events, which offers marijuana bar services for weddings. They provide the tools, the budtenders, and the expertise. The couple provides the cannabis.
Kelly’s company, which operates on the West Coast and was officially launched in Boston this weekend, even has a tool to measure out flower into 15th-of-a-gram doses, a measurement they’ve determined is approximately equal to a serving of wine you would get during a traditional wine tasting.
For a food lover like me, Sunday was a dream. There were CBD-infused chocolate fountains, CBD-infused hors d’oeuvres, sample wedding cakes (not infused with cannabis for the expo), and three types of cannabis-free mocktails. Other companies shared examples of their cannabis pairing menus and marijuana bouquets and centerpieces.
CBD is a nonpsychoactive compound of marijuana that can also be derived from hemp, a cannabis plant that is now federally legal. Though Massachusetts officials have restricted many CBD edible products, other states have been less stringent.
Many vendors that use THC, the psychoactive compound of marijuana, had similar guidelines as Irie: You provide the cannabis, and we’ll provide the tools and budtenders you need to help your guests safely consume it. That system allows vendors to specialize in marijuana consumption without needing a state license to sell marijuana to the guests (or even to the couple).
Other companies have created self-serve methods for consumption. Temescal Wellness, which operates adult-use stores in Hudson and Pittsfield, made a cannabis-infused powdered mix for guests to add to their drinks — or take home and use another time.
They also have a concierge service through their company that can help people plan the logistics of their cannabis-infused weddings.
“It’s going to become more and more popular as people look for alternatives to alcohol,” said Linda Katz, a company spokeswoman who was at the expo. “It’s helping break down that stigma but also making sure everyone feels comfortable.”
Having both alcohol and marijuana at a wedding can be a little more complicated, said Sam Kanter, a local event planner who also runs a cannabis dinner series called Dinner at Mary’s.
“We typically separate the two because of the risk involved,” she said. “Trained professionals need to be involved to make sure people know what they’re getting themselves into.”
And then there’s the etiquette involved in bringing a substance like cannabis into your wedding. How do you keep comfortable your older relatives who don’t enjoy consuming? What about parents who bring young children?
Lizzie Post, the great-great-granddaughter of the etiquette author Emily Post, recently wrote a book about cannabis etiquette.
It’s important to educate your guests about consumption, answer their questions, and also make it comfortable for guests who don’t want to consume, she said. Marijuana prohibition put a stigma on the plant that is just “a really big hurdle to overcome.”
“I think one of the best places to start personally is from a no-judgment standpoint,” she said.
So what do you say, Pop-Pop? Should we start my wedding reception together on a high note?