Can employers serve cannabis at office parties and corporate events?


If you want to be really popular with your employees this holiday season, the thought of lighting up more than just twinkle lights at the office may have crossed your mind.

But even if you live in a state where recreational cannabis use is fully legal, the legality of serving cannabis at a corporate event is confusing. What are the risks you take when you serve cannabis for your employees?

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In short, there are a lot, so probably best to hold off on that “Green Christmas” party for now. Here’s why.

Consider Your State’s Cannabis Laws

Recreational cannabis law is murky, even in states like California and Colorado where it’s been legal for a long time. Federal law prohibits all marijuana use except for very narrow purposes, like scientific testing for its medical benefits. Therefore, all marijuana use is illegal at a federal level, which is something to keep in mind if you’re representing a company that has a national presence.

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But, recreational marijuana use is legal in 18 states. And the really confusing part? Each state has its own perimeters for how legal recreational marijuana is there. You will have a cap on how much marijuana you can have and limits to where you can consume it, and these laws can vary from state to state.

If you’re considering throwing a canna-bash,  be mindful of all laws that affect you. Read your state’s laws and read the laws of any state you plan on traveling to where you might smoke. When in doubt, contact a lawyer and ask them for a consultation about your marijuana rights.

Also, keep in mind that marijuana legalization is very recent. Laws have not been tested in court, and they may change through time.

Weed in the Workplace—Morale Booster or Bad for Business?

Throwing any weed party is risky. You have to consider how you will serve the cannabis, who will purchase it, and how your guests will get home. It’s important to remember that transporting any cannabis products across state lines is a felony.

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Serving cannabis at a company event is even riskier. In addition to the legal risks, you have to consider the impact on your company brand and operations.

We’ve come a long way in normalizing cannabis, but there’s still a stigma around it. Some clients may not want to continue working with a company that serves cannabis to its employees.

If you’re still considering serving cannabis at your office event, though, you should be transparent with your employer about the fact that you want to serve cannabis at a work-related party to be sure they are OK with it.

Bear in mind that company guidelines against drug and alcohol use may be harder to enforce after the party. You must be clear that employees who consume cannabis products should be responsible and professional.

Additionally, keep the smoking laws in your building in mind. No-smoking laws will likely make it so you can only serve edibles.

You should also get a sense of how employees at your company view cannabis. To play it safe, communicate to participants that you will serve cannabis prior to the event, and see if it’s even something they’re interested in. Most importantly, be sure that everyone consumes a safe, small amount of weed and that no one attempts to drive themselves home high.

The Bottom Line

Bottom line, serving cannabis at a corporate event is a risky move on many levels. In states where recreational cannabis is not legal, it’s obviously a no-go. But even in states where cannabis is legal, the stigma that still surrounds it and the friction it may cause with your employer is probably not going to be worth it.

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