When California legalized recreational marijuana, no one was sure what would come next. Would the state embrace legal weed? Or would cities fight against the new pot laws?
There's no doubt that California is home to the nation's largest legal pot market, and advocates say the Golden State is ready to grow a little greener by opening up Amsterdam-style pot lounges.
Marijuana lounges already exist in California with some pot lounges located in San Francisco, Oakland, and South Lake Tahoe, who opened the consumption lounges based on those seen in Amsterdam. Now, the city of West Hollywood approved up to eight licenses for the consumption lounges.
After the City Council approved a motion that would allow business licenses for 'consumption areas' or lounges in West Hollywood last November, the city says they will begin accepting applications starting in May.
Jackie Rocco who works in the city's development department says the consumption spaces would work a lot like bars and attract both residents and tourists.
"We're a destination city, so we're really looking forward to having these spaces, you know, where people can come and enjoy our cannabis culture here in a safe and legal place," Russo said.
Residents in Los Angeles have complained about the lack of safe and legal spaces to use a legal product that is now regulated much like alcohol. Advocates say the consumption lounges would allow so-called 'weed tourism' since tourists can't smoke in public places or in their hotels.
“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,” said Jim Borghesani, spokesman for the Massachusetts chapter of the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project. “Social sites will simply give cannabis users the same options available to alcohol users.”
The licenses would allow businesses to open the pot lounges in West Hollywood grant customers the ability to smoke, vape and eat edibles. Each application will be scored by a five-member committee. The first lounge could light up by the end of the year.