Though no country in Europe has completely legalized cannabis, many cities on the continent take far more open approach to consuming it. Some cities in Switzerland have allowed cannabis clubs to open; Amsterdam has its famous coffee shops; and then there’s Barcelona, with its array of private consumption lounges, where you can smoke openly, just like you might drink socially in a bar. (Attendees of Spannabis 2019 very well may have found themselves smoking a joint in one recently.)
In North America, the idea of public cannabis consumption spaces has been slower to catch on. But with the legalization movement continuing to grow, so too is the push for places to smoke — and with new licensing possibilities — West Hollywood, California, could become a leader in public cannabis consumption.
“We just felt like what was missing was a high-end, farm-to-table restaurant where instead of having a glass of wine … you could consume cannabis,” said Sean Black, founder of Lowell Farms. To have consumption lounges solves two problems in the community. One is the consumer who wants to go out with friends and smoke cannabis instead of drinking, in a place that looks and feels like a night out. The other is tourists to the city who want to partake in California’s recreational cannabis, but don’t have a place to legally do so, since most hotels don’t allow smoking. Cannabis consumption lounges solve both of those problems.
For proponents of cannabis consumption lounges, the appeal to both experts and beginners alike is one of the strongest arguments for allowing them to operate, and part of the reason that they have been successful in major tourist hubs in Europe.
“I think this is the absolute safest place for you to try it first,” Black said. “On the other hand, if you’re like me — someone who’s been smoking cannabis for a long period of time and you’re very comfortable and experienced — I also think we’re the best place for that.”
With the granting of those eight licenses for consumption lounges, West Hollywood joins the ranks of a handful of global cities that have either tolerated or outright regulated the spaces. Black said that he and his colleagues visited Amsterdam, Vancouver and Barcelona for an idea of what a successful system might look like while they were working with West Hollywood officials to develop the licensing system.
Published: March 21, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News