The smoke is always dense and business bustling at Barbary Coast dispensary’s new marijuana consumption lounge in San Francisco.
Only in California is on-site marijuana use permitted at approved recreational marijuana dispensaries that have specially designed lounges, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.
San Francisco is setting the stage. It’s the only city in California to completely embrace the Amsterdam-like coffee shops, the iconic tourist destinations in the Netherlands where marijuana consumers can buy and use marijuana in the same establishment.
San Francisco’s marijuana czar, Nicole Elliot, said that new permits will be issued when city health officials finalize regulations outlined to protect employees from secondhand smoke and protect the neighborhood from unwanted marijuana odor. Lounges are required to install specific heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems preventing marijuana odors from reaching outdoors.
West Hollywood approved plans to issue as many as eight licenses for lounges and Alameda has plans to issue two licenses. Oakland and South Lake Tahoe each plan to issue one license. Sacramento, Los Angeles and a few additional cities are considering allowing lounges.
Jackie Rocco, the city of Los Angeles’ business development manager, said both locals and marijuana businesses grumble there is “no safe place, no legal place, to use it.” Rocco said Los Angeles officials see marijuana-smoking lounges set up like regular bars, but right now the idea is more conceptual than an actual plan.
In the meantime, lawmakers and officials in a few other states are discussing the issue.
Massachusetts marijuana regulators are considering the approval of “marijuana cafes.” Nevertheless, the proposal came under much criticism from Republican Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration and law enforcement officials, claiming that opening such establishments could lead to an increase in inebriated drivers.
Jim Borghesani of the MPP said, “Those who wish to consume cannabis are going to do so whether social sites exist or not, and are going to make driving decisions regardless of where they consume. Social sites will simply give cannabis users the same options available to alcohol users.”
In Denver, one consumption lounge just got approval. Consumers will provide their own marijuana and can hangout and consume on-site.
Nevada has pushed a vote back on the issue until 2019, but lawmakers in Alaska and Oregon have discussed and denied legislation.
General manager Jesse Henry said Barbary’s owners plan to open a larger dispensary and consumption lounge about a mile away, across the street from a big concert hall. He said, “This city is built for tourists. We put a lot of work into giving them a ‘San Francisco experience.’”
Photo: barbarycoastsf. org