The City of West Hollywood, California is about to redraw the map on where cannabis can be consumed, legally, in public in the United States. Public spaces where consumers can partake are still a rarity in the United States, but WeHo, as the city is known for short, is slated to more than double the number of licensed cannabis smoking lounges in 2019, due to a flurry of recent applications and approvals in that city.
San Francisco, Denver, and Oakland, California, collectively have about a dozen cannabis lounges between them. Meanwhile, a whopping 16 cannabis lounge licenses have been granted to West Hollywood. Eight will be edible-only, while the other eight will allow smoking, vaping, and edibles. In addition to that, WeHo also approved 24 additional cannabis storefronts, a huge number by any measure. These include dispensaries, delivery services, and adult-use retail stores.
[Cannabis news briefs: No pot shortage in Canada, WHO chills out, cannabis improves autism-related symptoms]
According to CannabisNow, this deluge of new cannabis destinations was set in motion in 2017. The West Hollywood city council called for a merit-based selection program for new cannabis businesses, asking their applicants to make their models “innovative,” and a “connection to West Hollywood, proposed operations, social equity, and product offerings,” according to a report on the top scoring applicants. The city, as progressive as it was in its selection, even went so far as to score the applicants’ interior and exterior design concepts. This was in addition to the more obvious components as a security plan and the applicant's’ experience in the cannabis industry.
“We were truly impressed by the quality and caliber of the applications that the city received,” the WeHo city manager’s official report noted in December. “Many of the proposed businesses were unique, innovative and world class. We also want to say how excited we are to soon have consumption lounges in the city, many of the top concepts will be the first of their kind in the country, if not the world.”
One lounge, Flore West Hollywood, which will allow vaping, smoking, and edibles, will have an outdoor patio lined with Spanish and Moroccan tiles with a fountain, and a photographic tribute through the history of cannabis and West Hollywood. Their tableside dining service will offer a seasonal menu, as well as a “Flower Service,” and the option of ordering food “virgin,” or with up to ten milligrams of THC.
[No change in teen marijuana use in Colorado, but adult use is on the rise: Report]
This is a big deal because as Ellen Komp, deputy director of California NORML, told CannabisNow, she feels cannabis isn’t legal enough until there are safe spaces to consume it in public, just as there are with alcohol. “It’s not legal enough to me until people can use cannabis in the way they might go into a bar to socialize and consume,” said Komp. “We’re glad to see consumption rooms opening as part of the move towards freedom and legalization. The positive socialization aspect of cannabis use is long-established and forcing people to consume only in their homes (if permitted) separates people unnecessarily.”
Header Image: Rendering via Budberry’s Open Kitchen, in WeHo.