Planning a cannabis event can be an exciting venture to undertake. Still, it also requires careful planning, compliance with local laws, and attention to detail. Working with others as part of a team will make it a less stressful and more enjoyable experience. Here are the steps to think about and plan to create a successful cannabis event:
What is your event about?
What is your cannabis event about – are you just getting people together to have fun or organising a public protest or awareness event? Having a clear idea about the kind of event you want to host will set you on the right path to having a successful event as the outcome.
You may want your event to have a theme so that a specific vibe is set and everyone’s on the same page. It might be the niche that attracts a certain demographic, or it could just be a good chance to get everyone together and network. Whatever the case, let people know what they should expect.
Cannabis possession is still illegal without a prescription from one of the many cannabis clinics now operating in the UK. Because of this, a legal problem is created when holding an event. Keeping everyone safe is the aim of the game because we are all doing this to have fun first and foremost.
If your event aims to be a private session, find somewhere discreet to host it.
It is best practice to speak to the police and let them know your intentions if you are holding a public protest where you expect over 1,000 people to attend. You do have the right to protest in public. Still, you will probably have to negotiate with the police over the consumption of cannabis. You might be surprised at how cooperative the police can be. With 13 years of public events and protests with the UKCSC, we have never had a time when the police have stopped everyone from consuming cannabis in public. Discreet use goes a long way.
Set a Budget
Setting a budget is a sensible idea to ensure your event doesn’t leave you out of pocket. Knowing what your expected spend will be to run the event will save a lot of stress later on.
You may not be a fan of spreadsheets, but they can be your best friend when planning and running any event. It provides you with a checklist to track your progress and remember everything. But also lets you keep track of the event’s expenses. You’ll be able to see exactly how much money you’ll need to host it and devise a business plan to recoup the money from ticket sales, vendors and other income streams.
Plan for contingencies and unexpected expenses. Even if your event is not for profit, aiming to raise more than you spend is smart. If you have a higher target, you will plan to make more; that way, if you fall short, it is less likely to be detrimental.
Choose a Date and Venue
Select a date that aligns with your event’s purpose and theme. Ensure you aren’t clashing with any other local events with the same demographic going.
Find a suitable venue with the necessary facilities to accommodate your expected attendance. Do you need disability access? Do you need a kitchen? Are there toilets for people to use? Is there power? Is there ventilation? Conduct your risk assessments to ensure thorough planning.
Where possible, consider not smoking indoors to put people at risk of second-hand smoke. More importantly, yes, cannabis possession is illegal. Section 8 of the Misuse of Drugs Act is an added charge for venue owners for knowingly allowing drugs to be smoked on the property (Worth noting here that vaping is not smoking).
Consider outdoor and indoor options, depending on the nature of your event.
Secure Permits and Licences
Obtain any necessary permits and licences to host an event in your area. If you are selling alcohol, do you have an alcohol licence? Are you serving food? Do you have a food hygiene certificate? Have you got your festival licence? Have you got permission to hold an event in the park you are in?
Is your event big enough that you will need liability insurance? Some venues will require you to have this, so it is an important factor to look into.
Safety and Security
Prioritise the safety and security of your attendees. Hire professional security personnel if needed. Make sure there are no trip and fire hazards. Are the fire alarms working? Are there extinguishers? Do they work? Are they in the right place? Are the tents pegged down properly? What is the weather report saying? Are there any weather warnings that may make you rethink your plans?
Implement safety measures for cannabis consumption, such as designated consumption areas and ensure a strict age verification process is in place for when tickets are sold and when people arrive. Ensure your advertising states that it is an over-18/21 event and ID is required.
Having people trained in first aid in case of a medical emergency will benefit you. Making sure there is access to an ambulance and fire brigade is also something you should seriously consider.
Promoting Your Event
Create a marketing plan to promote your event. Use various channels such as social media, email marketing, flyers, and partnerships with cannabis-related businesses.
Suppose you are using social media to communicate with ticket buyers. In that case, it is smart to take email addresses and phone numbers in case you get locked out of your account before the event, so have a failsafe in case you lose communication abilities. Not only is it a great contingency strategy, but it also creates a marketing list for future events. Just make sure you let them know you want to use it to contact them in the future – they do have the right to say no to this, though, under GDPR.
Communicate the event’s details, including date, time, location, ticket prices, and any restrictions on your marketing material and the ticket itself. Consider any terms and conditions you want to include and inform people of. It’s also helpful for you to write down anything you hadn’t thought about before to ensure you have it covered next time you plan future events.
Plan the Program
If you expect certain things to happen at your event at certain times, you need to make a programme to inform your staff and the attendees. The clearer things are for people, the greater the success there will be.
Develop an event programme that includes everything that’s taking place at what times and places. You may have speakers, workshops, demonstrations, entertainment, or other activities, so you may want to include a map and a timetable.
Ensure that the programme aligns with your event’s purpose and theme.
Have a detailed plan for event day logistics, including check-in procedures, event flow, and contingency plans for any issues.
Work with people you trust.
If your event involves vendors (e.g., cannabis product vendors, food vans), carefully curate and select them to enhance the attendee experience. Plan out what you would like the floor plan to look like and create a map to show people where everything is located.
Ensure vendors know what equipment they are expected to bring and what facilities you provide them, such as electric, water, gas, etc. Let them know if they can drive their vehicle to their pitch or if they will need to carry their equipment from their car.
If you charge vendors to be there, ensure both parties are clear about the deal, the fee, and when it will be paid. Signing a contract or agreement is never a bad idea, even to say the conversation has occurred. Some events charge a fee per pitch; others charge a percentage of the profits. Either way, transparency is beneficial for all parties involved.
Ensure vendors know the rules clearly and the consequences of breaching them.
Tickets and Registration
You’ll need to find a way to sell your tickets. This may be in person or via private messaging, or you can go a step further to make it more professional and set up an online ticketing and registration system (like Eventbrite) to manage attendance and revenue. Running your website with a shop is another option.
You may have different types of tickets with different benefits like camping, day tickets or VIP access. Make sure you price appropriately.
If you are issuing physical tickets, check how much time you need to have your tickets printed. There’s nothing worse than leaving it until the last minute and realising you don’t have enough time for it to be printed and delivered before the day.
A dedicated person on the door or entry with a checklist will help ensure that only ticketed people are coming in. They can also take money on the door if you allow it. Having a physical sheet that you tick off can help you know how many people came.
Health and Safety Measures
Implement health and safety protocols. Make sure fire exits are marked. Ensure there is an assembly point for people to meet and that attendees know where that is. Think about extraction and ventilation so that the air does not become toxic for attendees.
Provide sanitation stations for people to be able to wash their hands.
Ensure that your event is accessible to people with disabilities. Provide accessible parking, ramps, and accommodations as needed. You may want to inform potential attendees so they know what issues they either need to overcome or decide that it’s not something they will be able to join if the venue you have is not suitable for disabled access.
Evaluation and Post-Event
After the event:
- Gather feedback from attendees and vendors to assess what went well.
- Use these in combination with your notes and
- See where improvements can be made and build them into your plans for next time.
Promote the event’s success on social media and your website blog, and share content using images and videos you take at the event.
Consider doing ticket presales at the events or sharing the event images and videos to capture the audience’s attention before it dies between events.
If required by local authorities, submit any post-event compliance reports or documentation. You may want to have a safety and advisory (SAG) meeting with the appropriate stakeholders if you communicate with the police or council.
Planning a successful cannabis event involves being proactive – it will only be as good as you make it. Define the event’s purpose and theme to set clear expectations. Be mindful of local cannabis laws and safety concerns, especially for public events. Establish a budget and track expenses meticulously. Use software to help you. Carefully choose a date and venue that align with your event’s goals and secure the necessary permits and licences if they apply—Prioritise safety, security, and accessibility for all attendees. Effectively promote your event through various channels and manage ticket sales efficiently. Collaborate with trusted vendors, implement health and safety measures, and gather post-event feedback for continuous improvement. Comply with local reporting requirements for a successful event planning experience.
Get Involved on a National Level
If you are starting a regular event or private membership club, you can register with the UK Cannabis Social Clubs on the UKCSC Website.