The interior of The Studio Lounge, which is just south of the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. (Photo by Chris Casacchia)
The long-awaited debut of sit-down cannabis consumption lounges throughout California appears to have arrived, and industry experts predict these venues will expand exponentially in the next few years.
That would mark a big change. To date, the uptick in marijuana lounges has been modest in California and across the nation, slowed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The lounges currently open in California are clustered primarily in San Francisco and Oakland. Most are marijuana smoking rooms.
But several lounges are finally getting the green light from other municipalities in Southern California and the Central Valley.
As a result, the number of cannabis consumption lounges is expected to double – or even triple – over the next year or two from the dozen or so currently operating.
New lounges are slated to open in:
- National City, in San Diego County.
- Coalinga, Central Valley.
- Port Hueneme, Ventura County.
- Desert Hot Springs and Palm Springs, Riverside County
Desert Hot Springs, in fact, went one step further – giving the thumbs-up to cannabis entertainment facilities and retail sales at hotels.
Until now, the slow growth in consumption lounges in California and across the country has thrown into question a business model that many had hoped would generate additional revenue.
“Consumption lounges are a very crucial part of pushing the industry forward and normalizing cannabis use,” said Lauren Fontein, co-founder of The Artist Tree, a West Hollywood cannabis retailer that recently opened The Studio Lounge.
West Hollywood has been among the leaders in California’s consumption lounge industry outside the Bay Area.
City officials authorized 16 licenses in 2018 – eight for edibles only; eight for smoking, vaping or ingestion.
So far, only one of those venues – The Studio Lounge – is open for business.
The Artist Tree, located on Santa Monica Boulevard, opened The Studio Lounge on April 20, upstairs from the store.
The venue is located in the heart of a bustling commercial district of bars, restaurants and marijuana shops, just south of the famed Sunset Strip.
It’s the city’s second consumption lounge to open. The first, The Original Cannabis Cafe, closed at the onset of the pandemic and hasn’t reopened.
On a recent comedy night at The Studio Lounge, patrons packed the room.
Some rented glass bongs on the patio terrace; others sat inside puffing pre-rolls.
Customers used tablets to order bongs, pre-rolls and other cannabis products.
Events are held throughout the week: live music, sound baths, painting classes, yoga instruction, drag queen brunches.
“There’s no place in the world other than West Hollywood where you can have this crazy drag show, people smoking, drag queens smoking huge blunts. The energy in the space is really great,” Fontein said.
“We want to give people a brand-new perspective on cannabis, and what it can be, and really change people’s minds about it or who might be reluctant or scared or hesitant to have this in their neighborhood,” she added.
To Read The Rest Of This Article By Chris Casacchia on MJBizDaily
Published: August 02, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News