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How to Manage the Legalization of Marijuana and Your Hotel Policies

Hotels, like a lot of industries, are trying to figure out their approach to a widening swath of states legalizing marijuana for either medicinal or recreation use—or both. It’s especially tricky because the federal government still lists cannabis as a Schedule I substance subject to penitentiary time. Hotels are left wondering how to allow guests to smoke in designated areas on-site when it’s legal under state laws. How do they handle drug testing their employees? This blog will cover some of the issues around legal pot and how your facility should adapt.

Hotels and Legal Marijuana

Right now, there are 16-states plus D.C. that have legalized recreational and medical marijuana. Another 19 states allow medical marijuana with a doctor’s prescription. This issue is ever-changing but not going away anytime soon. Currently, the federal government remains firmly tied to Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, which subjects people who possess marijuana to federal charges. It’s a tricky position to have the feds and state governments so at odds with each other and some would say business owners could be caught in the middle of the issue.

From a hotel chain’s perspective, breaking the federal law could cause problems with the facility’s reputation. The chain could lose their liquor license or banking relationships or cause friction with various shareholders—to name just a few problems which could easily arise. Most hotels have no-smoking policies, but edibles are easy to hide and don’t have the telltale odor of a marijuana cigarette.

There is a booming business currently in cannabidiol or CBD spin-off products; note these oils, lotions, or other products do not have THC, which is what creates the “high” that marijuana does. Some hotels have stocked their bars and room service menus with CBD products.

Still, others wonder if allowing marijuana consumption in designated smoking areas on-site could give them some sort of competitive advantage? Hotel-Online had this to say, “While this could certainly result in an increase in occupancy because you would be adding a strong differentiating factor to your property as well as introduce a new potential revenue stream if you were to convert part of your gift shop into a dispensary, you may also run the risk of turning off those guests who are not ‘cannabis inclined”

It’s possible that luxury facilities and wellness resorts could adapt to state rules that allow legalization. They could even incorporate edibles or engage their chefs to create their own line of products to offer to guests. Or, they may steer clear entirely. However, senior managers must carefully weigh hotel policies in relation to their state regulation and the possible ramifications to their business and service lines. Even if your state hasn’t legalized yet, the chances are high that this issue is on the horizon. It’s time to establish baseline protocols to adapt to changing times now.

Gecko Hospitality is the nation’s leading staffing agency for the hospitality industry. Talk with our team of hospitality recruiters today about how we can help you meet your hiring goals.

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