HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Tequila Canty transforms blank canvases into faraway, tropical paradises at her painting studio The Art Lounge in Henrico’s East End.
“We have music playing and just in here having a good time a lot of fun,” Canty explained while painting an elaborate beach scene. “It can be a family fun atmosphere or something for like a girl's night or even a date night.”
Canty allows her customers to reserve her space on South Laburnum Avenue for a step-by-step painting lesson while enjoying a few glasses of wine.
But recently customers have inundated her with one request that she doesn’t feel comfortable fulfilling right now.
“I have a lot of customers calling, over a dozen I would say, that called since the beginning of July asking if they can smoke and paint,” Canty recalled.
On July 1, marijuana usage and possession for those 21 years old and up became legal in Virginia. Legal-aged adults can possess up to an ounce of cannabis in public and grow up to four plants at home.
Kelly Cournoyer, an associate attorney with the Toscano Law Group, has focused on learning the ins and outs of the state’s rather complicated cannabis laws. She warned businesses should pause before allowing customers to puff.
“Retail sales haven’t started yet, and we don’t expect to see that for a couple of years,” she said. “So, right now I definitely advise clients that it’s not necessarily a good idea to get involved in any type of gifting or use of marijuana on their premises until we have a regulatory framework established by the Cannabis Control Authority.”
Cournoyer shared another strong reason why business owners should shy away from allowing marijuana inside their premises.
“Marijuana is still illegal under federal law so we do foresee some obstacles for businesses to overcome as far as where they can deposit their proceeds from otherwise legal state activity,” she explained. “Banks are typically federally insured, federally backed where they can run into an issue.”
Also, public consumption of marijuana is still prohibited in Virginia.
As Virginia lawmakers work to weed out any confusion with their cannabis laws, Canty said her customers can still paint and have fun.
“I do offer paint party kits where you can host your own puff party at home,” she said.
On the farm with Libby Lewis