It’s a Saturday night and you’re at your favorite music venue to see that one artist you’ve been dying to see live. As the main performer takes the stage you, along with 10,000 other people, stand up and start cheering. The music starts and everyone is having a good time. You take a sip of your beer/mixed drink/water/soda, whatever it may be, and a few minutes later you get handed a blunt/joint. You take a hit and continue with your amazing night. However, a few minutes later you start to ask yourself; was smoking that blunt/joint in this venue legal?
Yes, I know no one will ask themselves that question during a concert, but for the sake of this article go along with me. Music and cannabis go together like peanut butter and jelly, like movies and popcorn, or like Southern California and no rain. But, does that mean that it’s legal to have at a venue under the new recreational laws? Let’s dive a little deeper into the regulations to see if we can answer this.
With the passage of Prop 64 and the issuance of two sets of proposed regulations by the various governing agencies, Californians are realizing it is harder to consume the legal, adult-use cannabis than they expected. So, you are probably saying, okay Eric, get to the point, can I consume cannabis at music venues legally?
In order to answer the threshold question, an understanding of the consumption laws is needed. Health and Safety Code 11362.3 provides what a person is prohibited from doing regarding cannabis consumption. A person may not smoke or ingest cannabis or any cannabis products in public places and/or where tobacco is prohibited. (Health and Safety Code § 11362.3(a)(1)-(2). Cannabis consumption is also prohibited within 1,000 feet of a school, day care, and youth center while children are present. (Health and Safety Code § 11362.3(a)(3). Other areas where consumption is not allowed is in a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other vehicle used for transportation. This last one may seem like common sense, but it had to be addressed.
So, where can you consume? Well, you can consume in your private residence. A private residence is an exception to the 1,000 foot rule regarding schools, day cares, and youth centers. However, if you rent an apartment and the complex bans smoking of all kinds, then under this circumstance you are technically not allowed to smoke cannabis at your residence. Additionally, Business and Professions Code §26200(g) allows for local jurisdictions to allow for the smoking and/or ingesting of cannabis and cannabis products at certain, licensed premises.
Compared to alcohol, cannabis consumption is more restrictive. In fact, even though Business and Professions Code allows for local jurisdictions to allow on-site consumption, West Hollywood is one of the only local jurisdiction that is pursuing that business model.
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) is the governing agency regarding cannabis events. Cannabis events include the retail sale and the consumption of cannabis. A venue which wishes to allow the consumption of cannabis at a cannabis specific event does have some hoops to jump through.
First, the area that is to be used for cannabis consumption must be 21 and over, much like the beer gardens at Coachella, or other music festivals. Second, the cannabis consumption cannot be visible from any public place or non-age restricted area. Third, no consumption of alcohol shall be allowed on the licensed cannabis premises, and all the requirements of the local jurisdiction must be followed.
How Do the Consumption Laws and Consumption Event Laws Apply to Consuming at a Music Venue?
According to the consumption laws, cannabis cannot be consumed in public places or places where tobacco is prohibited. Tobacco, like cannabis, can be allowed at private locations. The Palladium in Hollywood, for example, has smoking sections. Further, consuming cannabis at the venues does not seem like it would violate the consumption laws regarding smoking/ingesting within 1,000 feet of schools, day cares, or youth centers when children are present. And, obviously it would not violate smoking/ingesting in a motor vehicle, since no one at a concert is in a motor vehicle. Based solely on the health and safety code, it appears that music venues would be allowed to permit cannabis consumption.
What about the cannabis event laws. Well, would a show that allows cannabis consumption be considered a cannabis event? The event would go on with cannabis or not. There would be no sales of cannabis on the property, and no promotion of cannabis (except for maybe the artist singing about it). It does not appear this would fall under a cannabis event.
The venues have a few things to consider. First, since cannabis is a still a hotly debated topic, will allowing cannabis ostracizes some customers because it allows cannabis at it events? How will this impact profits? The alcohol sold at events is a HUGE part of the revenue the venue will receive. If it is only allowing cannabis, for liability purposes, how does this impact the incoming money? Does the insurance cover cannabis consumption? If the venue’s insurance does not cover such acts, then the venue may be liable for any litigation that may arise because of the consumption of cannabis, or for anything that may have happened at the event, as the insurance policy would most likely be void.
Is it a good idea to allow cannabis at music venues? This is a grey area; the rules can be construed either way. There is so much uncertainty with the rules and regulations. Two things are clear, legally speaking no public consumption can take place, and if a venue allows cannabis no cannabis sales can be completed. So, as long as the venue is private, the insurance policy and/or policies, the safety protocols are followed, etc., then it music venues can allow cannabis consumption. However, I do not foresee big venues like the Palladium allowing cannabis for the time being.
The topic of cannabis consumption at music venues is not one that I have seen addressed as of yet. Most articles only detail where you can and cannot consume, but exclude this debate. Maybe because there is no clear-cut answer, or maybe it’s only a matter of time before a venue comes under fire for allowing consumption.
Most of these venues are private and will have the final say if they want to allow cannabis consumption, but we have not seen a venue openly allow the consumption of cannabis at this point. We are eight full months into the legal market and one of the biggest festivals, Coachella, did not allow cannabis.
All information provided in this article is for educational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice. Each situation is dependent on the specific facts and must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. If you’d like to discuss the specifics of your situation, please call our office at (213) 784-3640.