Cannabis Social Use

Cannabis Social Use

On-site Cannabis Use or Cannabis Social Use  has long been linked to negative things, from its smell to its purported negative impacts on the human body. Despite cannabis becoming legal medically or recreationally in many states, the public or social use of cannabis remains mostly illegal.  This is a direct result of the stigma that has been federally mandated since 1937, with zero research going into any benefit of cannabis and only being approved for finding negative impacts and the harms of cannabis use. For this very reason, Israel and not the United States remains the epicenter of cannabis science.

What are places for the public use of cannabis called?

On-site Cannabis Use

Read Thomas’ Article on the Social Use of Cannabis at the Cannabis Law & Regulation Reporter – Here.

Cannabis entrepreneurs should look into the General Provisions found under Article 55 of the new Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the “Act”), 410 ILCS 705/55-25. Let’s put it on the page for you:

  1. A unit of local government, including a home rule

unit, or any non-home rule county within the unincorporated territory of the county may regulate the on-premises consumption of cannabis at or in a cannabis business establishment within its jurisdiction in a manner consistent with this Act. A cannabis business establishment or other entity authorized or permitted by a unit of local government to allow on-site consumption shall not be deemed a public place within the meaning of the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

On-Premises Consumption of Cannabis Regulations

  • The subsection permits not only “cannabis business establishments” to have on-site consumption, but also any other entity so authorized by the local government.  The Act defines “cannabis business establishments” under its Definitions article as any licensed cannabis business. The Act goes even further and provides additional rights to the local governments to expand on-site cannabis use beyond cannabis business establishments, like dispensaries, into any entity so authorized.
  • Local governments wield lots of power when it comes to cannabis laws, despite the states setting the statutory framework. Most states allow municipalities to set the number of cannabis licenses in their jurisdiction. While Illinois has a state-mandated ceiling to its cannabis licenses, a municipality may set “reasonable zoning ordinances” to regulate cannabis business establishments. 
  • A local government can ban cannabis business establishments and make reasonable regulations regarding their numbers, distances from locations deemed sensitive by the municipality, and other time, place and manner regulations.  
  • Reasonableness is always a fact intensive assessment based upon the circumstances, but it also provides the local governments with new and creative ways to foster cannabis related businesses and generate revenue.
  •  classic analog to the cannabis social use space is a bar that serves liquor.  Often, municipalities do not have just one regulation for alcohol.

Review of my hometown’s ordinances resulted in liquor licenses of Class A through L, and another seven sub-classes. Cannabis presents equally many variations for public use licensure, and perhaps more.

Municipalities could permit cannabis lounges where people may consume inhaled cannabis products alone because of the safety profile the accompanies the short duration of the effects of inhaling cannabis, but bar ingestion.  Or the municipality could have more stringent, phrased as reasonable, regulations related to the public consumption of edible cannabis products to provide for additional safe-guards in dosing. Certain pitfalls may result with people that are not used to the different onset and duration of edible as opposed to inhaled cannabis.  Educating the consumer and general public remains key in the move toward legalization and sensible regulation.

Additionally, the Act does not expressly provide for cannabis supper clubs where chefs prepare fresh cannabis infused dishes for guests. Perhaps the reasonable on-site consumption regulations set by the municipality provide a means to accomplish those ends.  Granted, a dispensary alone cannot create the infused dishes. Plus, the rules for the Act are not due for several months. Time will tell on social use of cannabis in Illinois depending on what the municipal governments decide to do with cannabis in their communities.

As the liquor ordinances and their numerous classifications as a guidepost for what is possible with social use of cannabis, and the broad usage of the term “authorized entity” under the Act for those that may have on-site consumption, the sky’s the limit.  Public consumption has been prohibited, but perhaps private events, like a music festival, may be able to qualify for a special type of cannabis license. Perhaps a local massage therapist could begin using cannabis topicals on patients. A Yoga class may have an event with the right joint pairing for your asanas. Bakeries that specialize in space cakes and hold both cannabis infuser and dispensary licenses may one day be real.  

Differences between Services & Sales of Public Cannabis Use

Municipal social use permits also means more revenue for the community.  Typically retailers pay the excise taxes for the beer and liquor they sell. The Act provided tax revenue for both the state and the municipalities from the sale of cannabis at the dispensaries.  Perhaps the municipality could charge some excise tax from the sale of infused foods at an on-site restaurant, assuming the Act and its forthcoming rules so allow that type of infused food. What about the massage therapist that wants to use cannabis to massage sore muscles?  It must be a service because only dispensaries may sell pre-packaged cannabis. However, the municipality can charge a permit fee for such use and perhaps regulate the amount of THC in the pain reliever. In the future, on-site consumption lounges will bring the municipality additional permitting revenue and sales tax.

Maybe one day the taxes will be the most expensive ingredient in cannabis, just like for beer before it. That will take a great many legislative changes to the cannabis laws, but remember that even in 2019 the States passed hundreds of amendments to their liquor laws. Change at the legislative level takes time, but also never stops.

Thomas Howard has been in business for years and can help yours navigate towards more profitable waters.

Our cannabis business attorneys are also business owners.  They can help you structure your business or help protect it from overly burdensome regulations.

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