Before the pandemic, West Hollywood was on track to open 16 cannabis consumption lounges
Less than six months before the pandemic began, the Original Cannabis Cafe — known at its opening as Lowell Cafe — debuted with a massive green-tinged bang. The nation’s first cannabis consumption lounge played to long lines that twisted down La Brea Avenue, with locals and tourists waiting their turn to openly consume cannabis in a restaurant setting. Everything from bongs and vaporizer pens, to cannabis oil, concentrated cannabis (also known as dabs), and cannabis beverages were in heavy rotation — as was a ‘flower host’ to roll custom table side joints.
The Cannabis Cafe was a major success, thanks in large part to the city of West Hollywood itself. Officials began making long-term plans to handle cannabis consumption lounges well before California’s adult-use became legal in 2017, launching a permit process to have a total of 10 dispensaries and 16 consumption lounges within the compact city of WeHo in short order. The approach was a strategic one, relating back 40 years to WeHo’s longstanding relationship with cannabis.
Then, of course, came the pandemic. In March 2020the Cannabis Cafe and future consumption lounges put plans on temporary hold, freezing one of the most exciting new hospitality markets to hit Los Angeles in years. While restaurants were permitted to serve with social distancing guidelinesthe Cannabis Cafe remained closed as WeHo’s future consumption sites figured out what to do — after all, consuming cannabis on-site is an inherently social activity with airborne issues at play.
Fast forward to 2022 and that two-year lull is ending. Now a new crop of cannabis consumption lounges are preparing to open around West Hollywood, including some with notable celebrity names attached. There’s even activity happening beyond West Hollywood with CBD restaurants, hotels, and other hospitality projects landing in and around greater Los Angeles, so here’s a look at the state of the scene at this moment.
The Artist Tree becomes WeHo’s second cannabis consumption lounge
Cannabis consumption lounges in West Hollywood will increase its number in the coming months, and the first comes from the Artist Tree. With four dispensary locations throughout Southern California, this flagship dispensary is already functional with a consumption lounge opening later this month on Santa Monica Boulevard, three blocks west of La Cienega. The group is one of the few that have received every license possible in West Hollywood: adult-use retail, medical retail, delivery, a full cannabis consumption lounge, and an edibles lounge where more than half the space is designated by law to be non-smoking. It’s a massive undertaking, and could reshape the LA consumption scene.
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Published: March 09, 2022