Cannabis at your holiday work party? Here are some tips

Now that cannabis is in its second year of legalization, some employers may consider serving cannabis at the holiday party.

image: Greenito

First, gauge the corporate culture of your company.

Some stigmatization of cannabis use lingers as it did after alcohol prohibition was lifted in the 1920s. For decades, alcohol had been characterized as the ruination of families. Cannabis still has a negative image as a gateway drug leading to abuse of more deadly substances; or pathetically comic as in Cheech and Chong’s “stoner” portrayals.

Some companies may be comfortable with the sophisticated use of a fine scotch or wine at office parties but not so much with cannabis.

“Read the culture of your workplace when determining the best approach to accommodating cannabis at your company party,” says Trang Trinh, CEO of TREC Brands, “For companies with a more conservative or traditional culture, one consideration may be to make an effort to not alienate employees who may wish to legally partake in cannabis on an equal footing with those enjoying a glass of wine (Globe and Mail, Nov. 29, 2019).”

TREC Brands describes itself as “a socially conscious cannabis company based in Toronto.”

Accommodating cannabis users can make a corporate statement of inclusiveness, organizational maturity, and progressive branding.

If cannabis is to be served, policies regarding use need to be made clear before the event. A successful party will be one in which alcohol and cannabis use is moderated by a bartender or “budtender.”

Gone are the wild office parties of the 1960s where the punch was spiked and the goal of partakers was to get inebriated as quick as possible and progress to a wild, drunken affair. Gone, too, are the smoke-filled zombie pot-parties where everyone gets stoned to the point of oblivion.

If smoking of cannabis is planed, a smoking area has to be arranged. The budtender can set up rolling stations to aid regular users and newbies alike.

A host who is familiar with the effects of cannabis use should be stationed at tables where rolled cannabis and edibles are served. The uncontrolled use of cannabis at the office party can lead to guests being very stoned -the equivalent of alcohol intoxication.

The presentation of cannabis is part of the festive occasion. Just as alcohol is presenting in attractive glasses and served with an attractive flair, so cannabis products should be pleasingly displayed and offered.

“Just as a bartender is expected to know how to make a martini using the right implements, ingredients and maybe even a creative flourish or two, cannabis use has its own series of rituals and tools,” says Trinh.

“Start low, go slow,” should be the mantra. Some partygoers may want to try cannabis for the first time. Just like alcohol, cannabis affects people differently. Beginners, who have never experienced being high on cannabis, may be tempted to overdo it. The effects of moderate cannabis use are subtle and newbies will want to take it slow and to be coached as to what to expect.

Lastly, the party should be by invitation only with everyone being over the age of 19.

Firelight stories shape our culture

It wasn’t a real campfire but the effect was the same. We settled for a propane campfire after wood campfires were banned. Other than being instantly on and producing no smoke, the propane briquettes flickered as brightly and radiated a warm glow.


It didn’t take long until we were transfixed by the fire and drawn into sheltering canopy of flickering light that spread only a little beyond our circle to the tree tops. Beyond our little circle, the great sphere of stars above: that slowly rotating screen of ancient constellations.

As dark draws the circle tighter, stories real and fantastic are told. Imagination takes flight and the mundane matters of the day concerning food and water fade.

The primal firelight connects us with our ancient selves. Polly Wiessner, anthropology professor at the University of Utah, wondered what it was about firelight that is so compelling. Since the stories of early humans are not embedded in the charcoal remains of their fires, she did the next best thing and studied the culture of a people for whom firelight is not a summertime novelty but part of daily life.

“What I found was a big difference between day and night conversation, the kinds of information transmitted and the use of imaginary thought,” Wiessner told CBC’s Quirks and Quarks.

Stories told by firelight transform societies and encourage innovation through imagining what couldn’t be seen. Prof. Wiessner found that firelight helped human culture and thought evolve by reinforcing social traditions, promoting harmony and equality, and sparking the imagination to envision a broad sense of community, both with distant people and the spirit world.

This study goes beyond the obvious effects of fire on cooking and how the processing of food affected diets and anatomy. Not much research has gone into how firelight extends the day, especially in tropical latitudes where it is dark for 12 hours a day. “Little is known about how important the extended day was for igniting the embers of culture and society.”

“There is something about fire in the middle of the darkness that bonds, mellows and also excites people. It’s intimate,” says Wiessner, who has studied the !Kung Bushmen the Kalahari Desert for 40 years. “Nighttime around a fire is universally time for bonding, for telling social information, for entertaining, for a lot of shared emotions.”

Wiessner found daytime conversations differed considerably. Of daytime conversations, 34 per cent were complaints, criticism and gossip to regulate social relationships; 31 per cent were economic matters, such as hunting for dinner; 16 percent were jokes; only 6 percent were stories. At night 80 per cent were stories.

“Stories are told in virtually all hunter-gatherer societies; together with gifts, they were the original social media.” Firelight stories are more than flights of fancy. They allow us to imagine worlds and communities beyond our own.

Such extended communities allowed humans “to colonize our planet because they had networks of mutual support, which you see expressed today in our capacity for social networking. Humans form communities that are not together in space, but are in our heads – virtual communities. They are communities in our heads.”