Now that legal marijuana has established itself in multiple states, it’s on to the next battle for pot enthusiasts: getting somewhere to legally smoke it. All state laws specify that marijuana is only to be consumed in the privacy of your own home (tough luck if you’re a renter), and that’s incredibly inconvenient for both residents and tourists. Cannabis clubs, where no alcohol is allowed, are a simple solution to this problem, but they face some large obstacles from a legal standpoint. Even so, a few cannabis lounges exist, and are setting the stage for others to open as well.
Meet the Coffee Joint
The Coffee Joint, located in Denver, Colorado, is the first state-licensed cannabis club in the country. Colorado law doesn’t actually say anything about pot clubs, and there are many speakeasy-style clubs in the state. But co-owners Kirill Merkulov and Rita Tsalyuk wanted to go through legal channels to create a place for marijuana lovers to socialize and use cannabis without judgment or interference, and the Coffee Joint is the result. They were granted their license in February, 2018, and opened soon after.
The place is meant to be a local hub for those who want to chill out and toke up. The biggest catch, however, is that you can’t actually smoke inside That’s explicitly prohibited by the Colorado Clean Air Act, but dabbing, vaping, and consuming edibles are all welcome activities. There are still caveats, like the fact that you have to bring your own rig and use the enails provided by the cafe.
The Coffee Joint also hosts frequent events with vendors and educators, making it a great spot for curious consumers to gather. While it’s a great start, this destination has a lot to live up to.
Northwest Cannabis Club
Northwest Cannabis Club is currently the gold standard of pot lounges. Its less-than-flashy exterior is home to a 50-foot dab bar, a smallish stage, a basement rec room, and a covered deck for outdoor smoking.
There are dab rigs and enails available for use (thanks to copious alcohol wipes), and a healthy selection of Volcanoes and other vape devices to choose from. They host educational events, although the stage allows for musical guests as well. The one thing that NW Cannabis Club doesn’t have? A license.
When a local paper asked how the club is allowed to operate and with what kind of permit, the owner responded with a tight-lipped: “No comment.”
Fair enough. Will more states follow Colorado’s lead and allow businesses like NW Cannabis Club to operate legally by issuing licenses?
Making the Case to California
If Californian cannabis advocates have anything to say about it, they’ll have the next crack at legitimizing cannabis clubs. West Hollywood is the epicenter of this development, with the City Council having approved a revolutionary new measure. The ordinance allows businesses in the city to apply for pot lounge permits, starting in May, 2018. There are two tiers of permit: one for lounges where edibles, vaping, and smoking are permitted, and one where only edibles are allowed. The city will grant eight of each license type.
Of course, many anti-pot parties are wringing their hands with worry over the effects cannabis clubs might have on society. Many cite DUI fears, demonstrating a fundamental misunderstanding of how cannabis impairment works. One City Councilman even said, “You can go to a bar and have a drink or two and be OK. Marijuana, the effects last and I think it can be disastrous on the road.”
On the other side of the fence, there’s the argument that legal cannabis makes no sense when there’s nowhere you can legally consume it outside your own home. Allowing for safe public consumption in the form of cannabis clubs would also allow weed tourism to flourish without stoned, wild-eyed strangers trying to toke up in streets, alleys, or hotel rooms. Since educational events are a common theme among cannabis clubs, you could even argue that licensing them would lead to a more informed, responsible range of consumers.
It’s safe to say that most cannabis users love the concept of marijuana lounges. After all, it’s everything that’s great about a bar—but without all the drama and drunken hijinks. Hopefully cannabis clubs gain more traction in the near future!
Spencer Grey is a staff writer at Smoking Outlet, where you’ll always get The Best Prices on the Best Pieces.
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