With the sudden and persistent wave of statewide marijuana legalizations happening across the country, a pervading question keeps coming up: where do we smoke all this weed?
Massachusetts has been dealing with this problem, and now cannabis lounges are written into legalization bills, like the one for New York. Public spaces designed for you to chill and smoke the marijuana you just bought are being accepted across the country, but it’s been a slow rollout for a variety of reasons.
The first and most obvious has been that 2020 was a vacuum of a year for new businesses, especially in Los Angeles where indoor services was extremely limited since March. In 2019, things seemed to be gearing up for the city to start expanding the amount of cannabis lounges with the announcement of a list of applicants who could apply for a license.
One had opened that year, Lowell Café, had a whole bunch of hiccups in the beginning of the process, however. The main one being that they could not serve food and allow weed smoking within the same room, so they found some workarounds by creating three different sections within the building.
Beyond LA, some lounges are operating in the San Francisco area, a few in Colorado, and much more expected in Massachusetts, but the market has still been expanding at a snail’s pace.
According to The Fresh Toast, there’s a variety of reasons, and one of them is because cannabis lounges exist in a sort of in-between of defined businesses.
“Another challenge to on-site consumption is the prohibition on indoor smoking in most businesses. Smoking marijuana buds remains the most popular form of consumption, and not being able to smoke a joint or bowl would limit the audience of a consumption bar. Some indoor smoking prohibitions also prohibit vaping as well. Outdoor smoking, or smoking in public is generally still not allowed, even in legal states. Some Colorado consumption lounges have skirted that state’s indoor smoking ban by operating as private, members-only clubs that are BYOC, Bring Your Own Cannabis.”
There’s also the question of whether or not these lounges would be a draw for smokers who are used to getting high at home. Is there even a demand? An easy solution would be to pair smoking with a different activity, such as food consumption or movie-viewing, but the restrictions that come with smoking indoors makes any pairing extremely difficult to balance.