A session on Happy Owners at ARDA West in Denver last week, brought giggles from the audience when the topic turned to recreational marijuana use. What better place to discuss it than in Colorado, one of the first states to legalize recreational use of pot. Tourists visiting Denver can check into "Weed-Inns", (not to be confused with weed-ins, popular in the 60-70's). In various other cities across the state, marijuana tour companies such as "420 Tours" transport visitors around in their "Canna-Bus" for weed cooking classes, Grow Tours and Weed Sommelier Tours. The tour company also offers stays at 420 friendly hotels where use of the drug in your room is no problem.
Ok, enough of the silliness. Let's get serious. How are timeshare resorts in states that legalize recreational use of the drug going to handle it? At present, though Colorado and Washington are the only states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, other states are lining up to follow suit—with some pushing initiatives for upcoming years. California, Oregon and Alaska are tops on the list for recreational legalization, with Arizona, Nevada, Montana and Massachusetts close behind. It’s not a simple matter to decide.
ARDA Looks at Issues Surrounding Legal Marijuana Use
Many issues result from recreational use of marijuana and some are not humorous. A recent article in ARDA Developments, brought up several of these issues: accommodating medical marijuana use, employment policies, off-duty use, hiring practices. In addition, there is the issue of owner/guest policies, disposal of marijuana left in rooms, and keeping marijuana and marijuana products out of the hands of minors.
The ARDA article says that at present, most timeshare resorts follow the written rules and regulations of the HOA and management company in dealing with marijuana use. Timeshares do not allow tobacco smoking in general, but some may have specifically designated areas. General rules may also state that no activity that’s improper, offensive and unlawful take place on the property, but when state initiatives pass this rule will need to change too.
What’s harder to control is marijuana edibles, and the use of the drug in e-cigarettes and other vaporizers that do not produce smoke, and emit little odor. In Colorado, hotels are smoke free and that means marijuana too, but there are companies promoting marijuana tourism like the Colorado Pot Guide, who give advice to tourists that it’s ok to use these products if they are discreet. Vaporizers, E-cigarettes and edibles may require new HOA rules specific to their use. Or, as the article in Developments suggests, the topic may need to be specifically addressed in the developers Declaration documents.
What to do with Guest Left-Overs
A potentially serious issue is what to do about marijuana left behind by guests particularly when it’s disguised in other products. These products often contain higher levels of the drug and are often packaged to look like common commercial products. Depending on the policies of the timeshare (some resorts currently allow employees to take home consumable items left behind by guests), there is a danger that employees may unknowingly eat the product.
It's apparent that staff need to be educated about the danger of the products that are labeled as such, but they also need to be aware of items that are homemade with marijuana and not labeled. The ARDA article mentions one instance of a housekeeper and her children who were hospitalized after eating a guest’s left-over brownies.
Disposal of left behind marijuana is another consideration. As the ARDA article states, it can't just be thrown away in a dumpster. It needs to be quarantined and then made to be unrecognizable. Colorado uses a system to make marijuana unrecognizable by mixing it with shredded paper, food waste and grease. It’s then put in a secure receptacle or taken to a solid waste disposal facility.
This is not a simple issue. As more states pass initiatives for recreational use of marijuana, timeshares will have to look long and hard at how they are going to address the issue.