It may be easy to buy pot in California but have you tried finding somewhere legal to smoke it? It’s a joke, right?
And that’s why industry players are turning up the heat to convince authorities to grant permits for cannabis lounges.
This will “dispel the myth” that smoking weed is “something seedy” and demonstrate that marijuana can be consumed responsibly, according to West Hollywood’s manager of business development, Jackie Rocco.
West Hollywood needs cannabis lounges
West Hollywood is now striving to grant permission for cannabis lounges to begin operating in the Southern California city.
Rocco says it is vitally important to have a place in the city where marijuana can be consumed safely and legally, putting an end to “something Californians do in secret” to something they can enjoy in a social environment, much the same as how adults consume alcohol in bars.
After all, says Rocco, “consuming marijuana is now legal in California”.
How Prop. 64 affects legal consumption
The irony of the current situation is that when Californians voted for the approval of recreational marijuana under Proposition 64 in 2016, they effectively placed a ban all consumption of weed in public.
That vote also gave landlords the go-ahead to regulate the use of marijuana on private property.
Apart from a handful of “bud and breakfast” resorts, tourists run the risk of being fined if they are found smoking in their hotel rooms.
Residential landlords can also place a blanket ban on the use of all marijuana products in their rental units. About half of California’s population live in rental accommodation.
Residents in subsidized federal housing face eviction if caught smoking weed indoors.
So, as Rocco says, it has become vitally important to create a legal and safe environment in which enthusiasts can consume marijuana and, if approved, West Hollywood will house one of only a handful of cannabis lounges in the country.
“Cannabis lounges is one way to address this problem”, points out Rocco.
In terms of proposition 64, cities in California can allow cannabis lounges to operate within their boundaries with the following provisos:
No special licenses are needed but all lounges must obtain state clearance (permits) to sell marijuana.
Visitors to these lounges may not consume tobacco or alcohol at the same venue.
Lounges cannot be situated within 600 feet of schools.
Consumption of cannabis must take place out of public view.
San Francisco led the way
San Francisco became the first city in the state to embrace the cannabis lounge concept with premises resembling an upmarket sports bar or steakhouse. At this venue, clients can buy and smoke their purchases while relaxing on red leather seating inset into booths surrounded with high dividers. The picture is completed by hardwood flooring.
Permit requirements to operate a cannabis lounge in San Francisco include the protection of workers from second-hand smoke, the neighbourhood from odors, as well as the installation of costly ventilation, heating and air conditioning systems to prevent leakage of any weed odors.
Other states follow suit
Now, apart from West Hollywood that has already approved plans for eight such businesses, other California cities that have embraced the cannabis lounge concept are Alameda (one), South Lake Tahoe and Oakland (two each), while Los Angeles and Sacramento are giving the concept serious consideration.
Lawmakers in other states are still stalling
Massachusetts rejected the cannabis lounge concept on the premise that they will result in “dangerously stoned” drivers on the road.
But Jim Borghesani disagrees. As the spokesman for the Massachusetts chapter of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy project, Borghesani points out that people who want to consume weed are going to do so, whether or not cannabis lounges are available in their area.
He says those people will make “driving decisions” regardless of where they consume weed and points out that cannabis lounges will simply give them the same choices available to people who consume alcohol.