Category: Regulations

Ed Murrieta’s Cannabis Lounge Pitch Deck

Wherever cannabis is legal, the public needs safe and comfortable places to smoke pot and socialize. Here’s a vision for such a place, even a chain of smoking lounges. 


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. 


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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Cannabis and Cars in 2018: No Smoking, No Eating, No Vaping, and Stuff Your Stash in Your Trunk

New California law outlaws consuming any form of cannabis in moving vehicles.


California’s car culture and cannabis culture have been portrayed as two great things that go great together.

Fuggedaboutit, man.

Starting Monday,  drivers and passengers will be forbidden from smoking, vaping, eating, drinking or otherwise ingesting cannabis and cannabis products in moving vehicles. Gov. Jerry Brown approved the new law in September.

It is already illegal to drive while intoxicated on cannabis — even though the state has set no legal standard for impairment and no technology to measure impairment is in standard use by law enforcement.  It’s also illegal to have an open bag of cannabis in a motor vehicle.

Penalties for smoking and consuming cannabis in vehicles begin at $70 but could be as much as $10,000 if injuries or deaths are involved and insurance rates skyrocket, similar to the cost of a drunk driving ticket.

It’s already illegal to smoke cannabis in public (punishable by a $100 fine) so the famous “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” hot-box scene can’t legally be recreated today.


Big questions remain: How can law enforcement tell the difference between a regular cookie and a cannabis cookie? People eat and drive all the time. And how does a cop spot an e-cig vs. a vape pen?

To review:

Dispel Your Pipe Dreams of Pot Parties a la Post-Prohibition Beer Busts



Despite modern cannabis advertising in the back pages of alt-weekly newspapers, cannabis legalization will not be celebrated like the end of alcohol Prohibition was toasted.

Newspaper advertisements and photographs  culled from the morgues of the Sacramento Union and the Sacramento Bee show Sacramento celebrated the repeal of alcohol Prohibition in April 1933 — with ample amounts of beer and food in bars, restaurants, hotels and drug stores steps away from the state Capitol.

All the normals in Sacramento — the Midwest capital of the West Coast — would sprint to the nearest dog-friendly craft beer garage with their hair on fire if anything like this happened with pot.

This Is Your Reasonable PSA Video About Drugs


California TV ad steers sober on stoned driving.


This public-service advertisement from California’s Office of Traffic Safety has been in heavy rotation on my cable TV channels this week. I’m trying to track down production and agency information for a story about public-service advertising in the age of legal cannabis.  Are we done with fried eggs and brain-damage claims? Ready for reasonable and responsible messages on TV?

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


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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Medicinal-to-Recreational Pot Transition Tangled Up in Bureaucracy and Crossed Fingers


The transition from medicinal cannabis to adult-use recreational cannabis in California is rife with bureaucracy. I met today with a man who prepared the application packages for two Sacramento dispensaries that hope to begin recreational sales on Jan. 1.

Here are the steps in the transition as my dispensary source laid them out:

  • Submit application with City of Sacramento to sell adult-use cannabis.
  • Obtain a letter of authorization from the city affirming currently permitted medicinal cannabis dispensary has paid its taxes and passed  audits.
  • Submit a Neighborhood Responsibility Plan.
  • File application and receive approval for minor modification of conditional use permit (eg: transition from medicinal to recreational) with city Planning Department.
  • Apply for and receive business operating permit.
  • Apply for temporary operating license from the state.
  • Continue to apply for permanent annual state license.

My source said that as of noon today, one of his dispensaries has checked off all but the last two on the list and the other dispensary is trailing the first by a day in the process. He said the first business license will be in hand ASAP and applications for state permits will filed as the business licenses for each dispensary is obtained.

The state will review the applications and verify the dispensaries’ operating status with the city before approving licenses.

My source said he hopes his two dispensaries — two of the best-run shops in Sacramento, one accounting for 25 percent of total amount of money generated by the city’s 4 percent dispensary tax — will be open for recreational sales at 9 a.m. Jan. 1.

The City of Sacramento is closed for business Friday, Monday and next Friday. That leaves tomorrow, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for dispensaries to complete all the necessary steps and get approved to legally sell recreational cannabis on the first day of the new year — the beginning of a new era in California cannabis.

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.



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.


Urban Pharm



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?

The Regs: Edibles’ Size and Potency Shrink

What’s happening with high-potency edibles?
Are they shoving micro-dosing down our throats? 


Shrinkage of edibles’ potency and portion size top The Regs:.

What’s happening with high-potency edibles?

— Sammy Quintana, Capitola

Are they shoving micro-dosing down our throats? 

— Barb Tandy, Berkeley

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The Regs: How to Save Bongloads on Cannabis Taxes and Carry a Half Pound of Pot

Is there some kind of tax break
for medicinal cannabis consumers? 


Once again, taxes top The Regs, this time in the context of a Medical Marijuana Identification Card that can save registered medicinal cannabis consumers bongloads of money in new taxes and allow you to carry eight times the amount of adult-use pot.

I’m a medicinal cannabis user. I heard about an official pot card that lets me avoid paying taxes. Is there some kind of tax break for medicinal cannabis consumers? 

— Randy Hollis, El Cerrito

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The Regs: Wild Wacky Tobaccy Taxes Explained in New Ask-and-Answer Column

What’s the deal with sky-high taxes
were going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?


Taxes top The Regs’ inaugural you-ask-the-questions-we-dig-up-the-answers column about California’s new cannabis regulations.

“What’s the deal with sky-high taxes we’re going to pay on Californy wacky tobaccy?

— Bobbi Zimmerman, San Francisco

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Banned in California But Legal in Your Kitchen

Here’s how to DIY cannabis gummies, 1,000-mg brownies and other newly illicit edibles at home.


Just gotta have pot gummy bears?

How about canna-butter?

Infused ice cream?

Boozy tincture?

Soda pop and energy shots containing caffeine?

Craving 1,000-mg brownies?

Forget about ‘em. Come Jan. 1, they’ll all be illegal in California medicinal dispensaries and adult-use pot shops under historic laws governing how the botanical herb is cultivated, manufactured, sold and consumed  in the Golden State.

This story will be about six banned edibles you can make legally at home.

Local Cannabis Sales Taxes Are All Over the Map in California

Get ready to pay wacky rates on wacky tobaccy
—  the largest levies in the legalized land.



Starting Jan. 1 (or more likely Jan. 2 given dispensaries’ holiday closures, and even later for most recreational shops given local lawmakers’ plodding pace), levies on California cannabis will be the highest in the legalized world. They’ll include:

  • state excise tax (15 percent)
  • state cultivation tax ($9.25 per ounce of cannabis flowers, $2.75 per ounce of leaves)
  • state sales tax (7.25 percent)
  • local sales tax (ranging from 7.25 percent to 10.25 percent depending on city and county rates).

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Huge Tax Savings, Higher Weight Limit in Cards for Some California Medical Cannabis Consumers

Will exemption from the largest levies in the legalized world and a half-pound stash allowance popularize obscure government IDs?


Want to avoid paying sky-high taxes on California cannabis?

Got a qualifying condition to use the botanical herb medicinally?

Need to carry a half pound of pot?

Get a California Medical Marijuana Identification Card.

California’s historic cannabis taxes, announced last week with other final regulations governing cannabis from cultivation to sales, increase the currency of an obscure, voluntary government program that could save you bongloads of money and provide you legal protection to possess eight times the recreational limit.  

Come January and the start of California’s merged medical and adult-use markets, medical cannabis consumers can still use printed-on-paper recommendations and made-in-office plastic authorization cards from doctors to shop at dispensaries. Like other adults, medical cannabis consumers can shop at recreational pot stores when they open.

But you’ll need a county-issued issued card linked to a state database if you want to partake of the perks available only to official card-carrying medical cannabis consumers:

Exemption from paying the largest state levies in the legalized world and the legal protection to possess up to 8 ounces of pot, 7 ounces more than recreational users are allowed to carry.

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