For over a decade, cannabis has been legal in California, but stringent laws and regulations about consumption kept the plant from gaining traction among consumers. Now, the state is introducing cannabis lounges like Amsterdam—and it’s making a big difference.
The Amsterdam Model
Amsterdam coffeeshops have been a staple of the cannabis world for decades. They’re unique establishments where consumers can purchase small amounts of marijuana and smoke it on the premises. As long as there’s no tobacco being smoked, patrons can enjoy their pot without worry.
Coffeeshops sell cannabis in small quantities so people aren’t able to purchase enough product to resell it illegally making it popular in Amsterdam and other European countries where marijuana is legal.
In addition to being a place for tourists and locals alike to smoke, coffeeshops are also a space for locals to connect with each other in an otherwise transient environment. A group of people who may not otherwise meet up may do so at a coffee shop where they can talk about their favorite strains and share tips for growing or cooking with cannabis.
Consumption Lounges In California
In the coming months and years, we’ll be seeing more and more weed consumption lounges across the state. Some will be in the San Francisco Bay Area but others will pop up in West Hollywood. There’s a lot of excitement around this new frontier of cannabis consumption—and it’s not just because of what these lounges could mean for consumers.
It’s also exciting for business owners who want to get involved with the recreational cannabis industry. These businesses are part of a growing industry that has been growing exponentially since voters passed Proposition 64 in 2016 which legalized recreational marijuana use throughout California. The passage of Proposition 64 gave rise to a whole new kind of business model: weed consumption lounges. These lounges allow customers to buy their product from an establishment that also provides them with space to consume it legally and safely without having to hide from police or other authorities who might otherwise arrest them for possession or use of marijuana outside its legal parameters—something they’ve always been able to do at home if they were living in states that had already legalized its use before Prop 64.
In order to open a consumption lounge, entrepreneurs must apply for retail licenses, since consumption lounge-specific permits don’t exist. This limits them strictly to the sale of cannabis, meaning they can’t prepare edibles or infused drinks like a normal cafe would.
“Nothing can be sold in a retail store except merchandise related to your brand, ancillary products for use, and cannabis,” Los Angeles attorney Courtney Caron said. This makes it difficult for companies to enter the market competitively, and these restrictions are also frustrating for consumers! “Why would you want to prohibit people from being able to purchase a beverage or food when they’re consuming a controlled substance?” Caron asks.
It’s silly, expensive, cutting into the profits of consumption lounge owners, and making these cannabis businesses less profitable for investors.
It’s clear consumption lounges have a lot of potential in California, but we need to see a boom in their growth before they can be considered mainstream. We’ve found the rules and regulations for these businesses too stringent making it difficult for them to operate efficiently. The good news is this is something that can be fixed with some careful attention from lawmakers and the public alike.
The benefits of consumption lounges are undeniable: they’re great for tourism and tax revenue, they help people get out of their homes and into public spaces, and they provide an opportunity for people who want to consume cannabis but don’t want to do so at home (for whatever reason). By loosening the rules governing these businesses just a little—and maybe even some advertising campaigns directed at tourists—we could see consumption lounges flourish in California!
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