By Benjie Cooper
YouTube: Lucid’s Vlog
As states across the nation continue to enact cannabis legislation, licenses are being awarded to cultivators, processors, distributors, and retailers, but permits to serve marijuana intended for immediate consumption are virtually nonexistent at the moment. But that appears to be changing.
The topic of consuming cannabis at the place of purchase is an issue that legal states such as Alaska, Oregon, and Colorado have tried to tackle, but have yet to reach a solution. Cannabis lounges do exist in those states, but they are almost entirely unlicensed.
In February, a shop in Denver called The Coffee Joint was permitted to allow customers to bring their personal cannabis products to the store and consume them there. The shop was the first in the nation to obtain such a license.
During the marijuana legalization process, it is an often-promoted notion that the plant should be regulated like alcohol; it’s also part of the foundation for the cannabis laws in some states. But while the bars in legal states are permitted to pour up alcoholic beverages for their guests to drink on-site, cannabis consumers aren’t generally afforded the same type of option.
The point is also sometimes made that people will be driving from the location high or stoned, thus creating an additional hazard to other drivers on the road. This is in spite of the fact that studies have demonstrated that cannabis consumers tend to be much safer behind the wheel than drunk drivers, while alcohol-related auto accidents continue to claim thousands of lives each year.
It should also be noted that in states where legislators or the voters have passed medicinal or recreational cannabis legislation, alcohol consumption has been shown to decrease.
With all other factors accounted for, the studies that have been conducted so far seem to indicate that there is a negligible risk associated with driving after having consumed marijuana.
Unlike some other states that have legalized marijuana, California cannabis law allows for the licensing of canna-bars.
But while adult-use marijuana lounges can be licensed under Prop 64, it is up to individual cities to determine whether or not they wish to permit them. In the first few months of 2018, the majority of California cities have yet to move ahead with such an option, though more are considering it as time passes.
In March, the Barbary Coast Dispensary in San Francisco made history by becoming the first in California to open a legal cannabis lounge.
In January, West Hollywood became the first city in Los Angeles County to permit recreational cannabis sales. They are now taking the next logical step by looking to license lounges for on-site consumption of product.
Current plans include the issuance of forty cannabis licenses within West Hollywood, sixteen of which will be locations where guests may enjoy edibles and smoke and vaporize marijuana flower and concentrates.
For those wishing to obtain a license, applications will be screened from May 2 to May 31 and carry a cost of $9,880.
The first of the two available license types will permit smoking, vaping, and ingestion of marijuana products on-site, and the second will allow edibles to be consumed at locations where cannabis merchandise is sold.
Those with applications that have been reviewed and approved by a five-member panel will need to secure a business license from the City of West Hollywood before finding an actual location and determining if there is any conflict between the permit and existing zoning.
The Business License Commission will review the business license and determine whether or not it should be approved. In addition to the acquisition of standard business operations permits, the applicant will then need to obtain an additional license from the state before they can open their doors.
For those who have questions regarding details about the licensing process, a public meeting is scheduled to take place April 11 from 2 pm to 4 pm at the West Hollywood City Council Chambers located at 625 N. San Vicente Blvd.