West Hollywood wants to become one of California’s first cities to allow ‘cannabis consumption’ lounges. In late November, West Hollywood’s City Council approved regulations which amended municipal codes and zoning ordinances to regulate cannabis land uses. This includes the authorization for cannabis consumption areas or lounges in the City of West Hollywood.
The pending application process will make WeHo one of the only cities in the region authorizing business licenses for consumption areas. These areas will offer a safe space to consume cannabis products such as edibles, THC-infused foods or beverages, as well as areas to smoke or vape cannabis. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis that causes the well-known high associated with marijuana. The new regulations will also allow cannabis products to be purchased and consumed at these consumption lounges without a medical recommendation. Still, they will likely be attached to an existing cannabis dispensary.
According to the city’s Business Development Manager, Jackie Rocco, West Hollywood will begin accepting applications over a 30-day period beginning March 2018. At the end of the initial period, licenses will be issued to eight businesses, then move forward in the planning process with the city. If all goes smoothly, Rocco anticipates the consumption lounges to open later this year.
Consumption lounges are for those 21 and over, and according to state law are prohibited from operating in a business that also possesses an alcohol license. According to Rocco, there has been no documented local pushback from businesses or residents, who have a long and supportive relationship with cannabis. Joshua Schare, West Hollywood’s Communications Manager cites the city’s healthy relationship with cannabis beginning during the darkest periods of the AIDS crisis, where compassionate use became the norm.
Cities like West Hollywood and Santa Ana are miles ahead of the City of Los Angeles, which only began accepting applications for adult-use licenses in January. At the beginning of 2018, West Hollywood expedited a temporary adult-use permit for four existing dispensaries: Alternative Herbal Health Services, the Los Angeles Patients & Caregivers Group, MedMen WeHo, and Zen Healing. The coming months will tell if these dispensaries are planning to add a consumption area on site.