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