You can smoke weed inside bars and restaurants in this part of KC metro — in theory

The Board of Aldermen in February amended its municipal code to give similar discretion to bar and restaurant owners regarding the consumption of marijuana, which Missouri made legal for recreational use last year.

In Missouri, it’s legal to grow, sell and consume marijuana. And in Raytown, it’s legal to smoke it in bars now. TAMMY LJUNGBLAD

In the late 2000s, when smoking bans swept across the Kansas City area, one municipality bucked the trend: Raytown. Even today, in the year of our lord 2023, you can still find cigarette smokers puffing and hacking inside Eclipse Bar and Grill, DJ’s Hangout, Irish Pub House and several other Raytown joints. Per city law, the owners of bars and restaurants in this Jackson County suburb can decide for themselves whether to permit smoking. Recently, Raytown has doubled down on its laissez-faire attitude toward lighting up.

In theory, that means a Camel Blue cigarette smoker and a KC Kush pre-roll smoker can legally share the same ashtray inside a Raytown tavern so long as the owner posts a sign near every entrance that says: “WARNING! Smoking of Marijuana is not regulated in this establishment.” In reality, though, nobody seems to be taking the city up on its generous offer just yet. “Currently, city staff are not aware of any specific Raytown establishment that allows customers to smoke marijuana onsite,” said Raytown spokeswoman Toni Alexander. The Star couldn’t find any takers, either. “I haven’t seen anybody smoke a joint in here,” said Ashley Beeson, bartender at Eclipse Bar and Grill. “I’m pretty sure we don’t allow it.”

“I had no idea,” said Sam Manning, bartender at the Irish Pub House, when informed of the new ordinance. “People just go outside (to smoke weed). That’s the way it’s been going here.” Ditto at The Naughty Pine and The Dirty Bird — though neither of those allow cigarette smoking, either. Tyler Harp, whose renowned pop-up Harp Barbecue recently opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant inside Raytown city limits, told The Star he’s not allowing marijuana consumption “on a regular basis.” But he’s been looking into the possibility of serving some THC-infused meals, a culinary trend that has caught on in recent years. “We are planning on having some weed dinner/brunches here next month,” Harp said.

That will require a bit of bureaucratic finesse. According to Raytown’s new law, businesses serving food or drinks that contain marijuana must comply with “all federal, state and local laws regulating the adulteration of any food or drink product and must be approved by the appropriate regulatory authority.” That approval must then be submitted to the city’s Community Development Department. Other municipalities are also updating laws in light of recreational marijuana legalization. Blue Springs is the only other smoking-ban holdout in the metro; cigarettes are legal for certain types of businesses but only a few bar owners in the city actually allow smoking. But the city went the other way in January, prohibiting the smoking of marijuana “in all public places unless specifically licensed or allowed.” “At this time, we are not licensing any establishments or businesses to allow marijuana smoking,” city administrator Mike Ekey told The Star.

In Kansas City, says city spokeswoman Sherae Honeycutt, the only public establishments where it’s legal to smoke marijuana indoors are casino floors and tobacco shops that aren’t part of a strip mall or other building. “However, businesses hold their own policies and can refuse the use of marijuana in their business,” Honeycutt noted. If you step outside the bar to spark up a joint, the patchwork of local laws dissolves and the state steps in. The Missouri Constitution prohibits marijuana use on public sidewalks and in cars. But it’s a low-risk venture: a $100 fine if a cop enforces that law. It’s just a little weed, after all.


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