Category: Regulations

West Hollywood Radically Mainstreams Cannabis Lounges and Restaurants

WeHo officials envision the high-energy city becoming a buzzworthy legal cannabis destination.

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BY ED MURRIETA

West Hollywood’s selection last week of 16 licensees to operate cannabis consumption lounges and cannabis restaurants in city business districts located on some of Southern California’s most famous streets revolutionizes and mainstreams public consumption in America’s legal cannabis states.

Eight licensees were approved to operate lounges that may allow all forms of cannabis consumption — smoking, vaping, eating edibles — as well cook and serve fresh-made “virgin” foods with THC and CBD sauces on the side. Eight licensees were approved to cook and serve cannabis-infused foods in restaurant settings and for private dinners not featuring smoking or vaping. All lounges will be tied to retail cannabis stores.

Other retail cannabis licenses issued include on the world’s first hotel-based cannabis boutique and white-glove delivery service, Lord Jones at The Standard Hotel on world-famous Sunset Strip.

Proposed lounge designs, environmentally conscious and alternative-energy aware, are contemporary eye-candy ranging from modest-chic to full-on lavish, befitting Sunset and Santa Monica boulevards, West Hollywood’s primary drags where lounges and retail stores are allowed, along with Melrose Avenue. Many lounges will feature entertainment. All will offer wellness and community services and will contribute to neighborhood security.

While licensees include veterans of Los Angeles hospitality, entertainment, wellness and cannabis industries, four of the best-known cannabis chefs in America — Jeff Danzer, Andrea Drummer, Holden Jagger and Brandon Allen — are involved in approved teams. One of Southern California’s best dispensaries, Greenwolf, and an owner of L.A.-based mids- and sub-mids bargain brands Loudpack and Dime Bag scored too, as did longtime medicinal cannabis activist Don Duncan of Americans for Safe Access.

When business secure locations and obtain operating permits in 2019, West Hollywood officials envision the high-energy city becoming a buzzworthy legal cannabis destination. WeHo leaders see WeHo cannabis lounge clientele and WeHo bar, hotel and restaurant clientele overlapping and visiting other businesses in the city that’s more stylish than nearby Hollywood and hipper than abutting Beverly Hills.

The story I propose highlights radically mainstreaming and consumer-and- industry-friendly aspects of West Hollywood’s lounge ordinance, which allows on-premises cooking and food service; attracted some of California’s top cannabis-cuisine talent; allows outdoor and rooftop smoking; allows operating hours 6 a.m.-2 a.m. seven days a week; and may rocket West Hollywood — home to the famed Sunset Strip and legendary music clubs Whisky a Go Go, The Viper Room and The Troubadour — to the top-ranking cannabis destination in America.

Meanwhile, for context, West Hollywood’s radically mainstreaming cannabis consumption lounge regulations advanced while Ontario’s clean-air smoking regulations are putting cannabis lounges out of business and Canadian cannabis consumers out on the streets; as Alaska just approved cannabis lounge regulations after two years of fits and starts; as San Francisco’s Vapor Room, now the city’s ninth lounge, reopened in a brighter space and climate six years after being closed by the feds; just before Tick Segerblom, the Nevada state senator who championed cannabis legislation, joins the county commission that controls the artsy part of old Las Vegas set to welcome lounges in 2019; and while consumption lounges aren’t sparking in Denver.

San Francisco Scores First Public Cannabis Lounge in U.S.

Update 2/11: ReLeaf Herbal’s bare-bones lounge is now serving recreational adult-use customers.
Update 2/8: Green Door’s Lounge847 is now open for recreational consumers.
Update 1/18: Urban Pharm opened for recreational sales and lounge use today, Thursday Jan. 18.

Decadent, safe, comfortable and regulated, Barbary Coast is now serving recreational cannabis consumers.

Barbary Coast

A view of the dab bar at Barbary Coast’s lounge. 

BY ED MURRIETA

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Denver.

America’s first legal cannabis lounge will not open in Las Vegas.

Forget about Alaska, Maine and Massachusetts, too.

America’s first legal cannabis lounge opened Thursday in San Francisco.

Actually, Barbary Coast Collective opened its luxe lounge next to its South of Market medicinal cannabis dispensary in March. Barbary Coast started serving adult-use recreational customers Thursday, making it the first legal, regulated cannabis lounge in America — the holy grail of the modern cannabis era.

“It’s something we’re proud of and excited about,” Barbary Coast director Jesse Henry told me. “I think we are going to get a lot of people who’ll think it’s like going to Amsterdam, and we’ll provide a safe, clean, comfortable place for folks to smoke.”

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Tokechella Is California’s Smoking-Hot Desert Cannabis Tourist Destination

Massive Cultivation, Most Dispensaries Per Capita
and Cannabis-Friendly Resorts and Rentals
Make Palm Springs, Cathedral City and
Desert Hot Springs a Pot, Pot, Pot, Pot World

BY ED MURRIETA

It’s high season in the Coachella Valley — for tourism and for pot.

Now’s the time to combine them both.

If you want to visit California next week for a taste of historic cannabis legalization in the Golden State, the Coachella Valley — in particular the resort-town cluster of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs —  is one of the best places to plan a cannabis getaway for Opening Day of legal pot sales, better than other California cannabis travel destinations like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Lake Tahoe, all lagging behind the Jan. 1 start date.

A longtime playground for movie stars, mobsters, sunseekers and alternative lifestyles 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the Coachella Valley has the key elements intrepid cannabis travelers need to ring in California’s new legal era:

  • massive local cultivation;
  • most dispensaries per capita set to sell flowers, edibles and concentrates to adults age 21 and over;
  • cannabis-friendly lodgings, including two cannabis-friendly (and clothing-optional) hot springs resorts and a colorful mountain hotel with a vape-friendly cabin and smoke-friendly grounds;
  • and cannabis-fueled stargazing in Joshua Tree National Park.

Tokechella’s a pot, pot, pot, pot world for sure.

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The First Cannabis Lounge of the Legal Era in America Will Be in San Francisco

‘We have eight existing lounges in the City, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,’ S.F. cannabis czar says.

san-francisco

BY ED MURRIETA

While Denver, Las Vegas and Massachusetts are racing to claim the honor of being the first place in America to host a legal, adult-use cannabis consumption lounge, eight San Francisco medicinal cannabis dispensary lounges are poised to give San Francisco claim to being the home of the first  legal, adult-use cannabis consumption lounge in America come 9 a.m. on Jan. 6, 2018 — the first day of the new legal era in which the city’s currently permitted medicinal social lounges can serve the recreational market.

Anyone wanting to be the first cannabis lounge in America has until 8:59 a.m. PST on the first Saturday  of January.  You’ll be competing with the Apple store of cannabis lounges, a Burning Man-inspired lounge that feels like a steampunk sex club and the newest most decadent lounge in town, which I just had the honor of helping to name the best cannabis lounge in the San Francisco Chronicle’s GreenState Awards.

“We have eight existing lounges in the City, and they will be able to continue operating in 2018,” San Francisco’s Office of Cannabis director Nicole Elliott told me in an email this afternoon.

California has not yet created a licensing scheme for cannabis lounges, nor does the state expressly prohibit cannabis lounges.  Absent state prohibition, local governments like San Francisco, Denver and Las Vegas can approve cannabis lounges.  San Francisco’s eight existing medicinal cannabis dispensary lounges — along with one that was shuttered by the federal government in 2011 and is preparing to re-open near Twitter headquarters — will be allowed to operate under city regulations they’ve operated under over the past decade.  Dispensaries that apply for new licenses in 2018 will be subject to stricter ventilation and  hermetically sealed smoking room requirements.

California pot czar Lori Ajax told regulators in Sacramento last week that when the state licenses cannabis lounges some time next year, lounge licenses will be tied to dispensary permits. There’ll be no stand-alone pot cafes in California.

San Francisco is the de facto model for pot lounges and social cannabis consumption in America.

Three of San Francisco’s leading dispensary lounges — Barbary Coast, Urban Pharm and Sparc — told they’re pursuing the state permit that’ll allow them to transition to the adult-use market. I’m checking with the other five dispensaries regarding their plans.

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Urban Pharm

Sparc

Sparc

Barbary Coast

Barbary Coast

 

Here’s a tour of San Francisco cannabis lounges  I wrote last year.Here’s one San Francisco pot lounge story I wrote for the Denver Post’s The Cannabist in 2015. Here’s another.

Which San Francisco pot lounge do you want to visit when the first recreational pot lounge(s) opens in America on Jan. 6, 2018?

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