San Diego is considering allowing cannabis businesses to open lounges where customers can smoke or eat the product on site. The city will take a look at what’s happening elsewhere, including in San Francisco, where such lounges already are part of the cultural landscape.
Not surprisingly, the City by the Bay has a big head start on other cities that are just beginning to permit on-site smoking rooms or moving in that direction.
Some members of the San Diego City Council’s economic development committee last week said they were open to a proposal by cannabis industry leaders to join the trend but wanted more information. Specifically, council members asked staff to find out what kind of regulations were in place in other cities.
Californians voted to legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, but smoking it in public is still forbidden. The industry and those who partake often say getting high is, among other things, a social affair and are clamoring for public establishments where people can safely smoke together.
Criticism of cannabis lounges often echoes arguments against legalization in general: claims that it’s a harmful drug, can involve criminal activity and impairs driving.
“Consumption lounges,” as they are sometimes called, are allowed in Oakland, Palm Springs, West Hollywood and Eureka. Others cities are considering it. But cannabis lounges are pretty much institutionalized in San Francisco, where about 10 have opened and are reviewed like restaurants for their service, menus, design and atmosphere.
Many have thematic decor to distinguish themselves while also enticing customers with amenities such as coffee, sports on TV and specialty nights. They rent out bongs and other marijuana paraphernalia for use during visits.
The Barbary Coast Dispensary lounge, probably the best known, has plush, red leather booths, flocked wallpaper and dark wood paneling that harken back to high-end speakeasies from the city’s storied past.
“At Urban Pharm on 10th Street, there’s a ‘steam punk’ vibe and they are ‘yucking’ it up — with comedy night’s every week in their ‘Giddy-Up Lounge,’ ” according to the Bay Area’s ABC7.
The interior at the recently opened Moe Greens mimics an upscale Las Vegas casino of the 1950s and ’60s, with “Sputnik” light fixtures and green leather booths, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (Moe Greene is a fictional mobster involved with casinos in “The Godfather” book and movie.)
“Opening a cannabis dispensary now is all about creating an experience,” Nate Haas, the co-owner and CEO of Moe Greens, told the Chronicle.
Published: March 17, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News