After producing an MSNBC series called Pot Barons of Colorado in 2014, television producer Niki Usbay McDonald’s view on cannabis switched from passive supporter to activist, and set out to shatter stereotypes many in opposition still carry about cannabis users.
“Growing up learning that ‘pot use leads to unemployment’ I was astonished at the number of corporate executives I’d see dashing through dispensaries and consuming cannabis at classy events,” McDonald said.
Many were happy to talk to McDonald about how cannabis helped them, but only off the record — no one was interested in risking their careers or reputations by admitting they enjoyed cannabis.
“What was even more frustrating was that many successful entrepreneurs in the marijuana industry itself refused to admit to being a consumer on camera because they didn’t want to appear less credible in the business world, McDonald said.
It became clear that to spark change in people’s perceptions, McDonald needed to find a way to bring marijuana out in the open and provide evidence of white-collar cannabis use.
Pairing the extravagance and visibility of weddings with the comfort and enjoyment of cannabis seemed like a natural fit, and McDonald created her weed wedding business Love and Marij, a project she said is her “calling.”
“My major goal is to create tons of imagery of cannabis being used in tasteful and upscale settings,” McDonald said. “I knew that if I could help generate new imagery of upscale cannabis use, I could help open more minds towards legalization.”
McDonald was inspired by acquaintances in the cannabis industry who opted to leave marijuana out of their own nuptials due to unwilling venues, or hesitation around family reactions.
“When you exclude cannabis from your wedding, the cannabis community responds by leaving the wedding to find a place where they can smoke in secret; potentially missing out on big moments,” McDonald said. “Whether or not you personally smoke, being open to serving both cannabis and alcohol at your event is a great way to be mutually inclusive.”
McDonald said one of the most common issues she has heard from couples is that their wedding day experience goes by too quickly.
“When enjoyed in moderation, incorporating cannabis is a way for canna-couples to slow the night down and take in the magnitude of the moment,” she said. “For experienced cannabis users, a hit off a vape pen is the perfect way to take the edge off, help process your emotions and put things into perspective.”
With marijuana still illegal in the majority of U.S. states, as well as federally, McDonald said the market for her business is growing slowly but steadily.
“Many vendors fear allowing cannabis on their property, but as more states legalize, there is certainly an influx of businesses that are canna-curious,” she said.
McDonald is currently offering a Weed Wedding giveaway for participants who share stories about their stereotype-shattering relationships. Stories will be published on her website and voted on by readers to select a winner.