The Wave of Cannabis Consumption Lounges Opening Across the US

Public consumption in safe clubs and lounges are just around the bend.

After many states across the United States began adopting marijuana legislation, the stigma surrounding the use of cannabis was beginning to soften. Dispensaries became mainstream establishments in states like Colorado, Washington, and California, however, noticeably absent in the cannabis realm were legal places to enjoy and experience cannabis in public. This lack of suitable places to consume cannabis evolved into legislation to change the rules to allow for cannabis consumption lounges, pot cafés, and private cannabis lounges. After legal obstacles regarding the indoor use of cannabis, equity concerns on licensure, and the rules surrounding public consumption for businesses were ironed out, creative entrepreneurs were able to apply for their cannabis consumption licenses.

Cannabis Lounge Delays

In 2019, the path to enjoying and experiencing the lounge life was just starting to make an entrance in the cannabis industry. However, just as cannabis consumption lounges were rolling out the green carpet for their grand openings, the pandemic swiftly shut them down. 

A sign in a cobblestone alley that reads closed

Cannabis lounges were set back because of the pandemic that started in 2020. Photo credit: Shutterstock

While restaurants were permitted to serve customers while adhering to social distancing policies, cannabis consumption lounges were not. Now that the proverbial smoke has cleared and the pandemic seems to be hitting a lull, despite the rough start, many cannabis consumption lounge owners are ready re-open with welcoming spaces for cannabis connoisseurs and the canna-curious alike.

Why are Cannabis Consumption Lounges Becoming So Popular?

A laid-back atmosphere with music and great food combined with legal space to consume cannabis is the biggest appeal to consumers.  As mentioned, though numerous states have legalized cannabis, few have established legal places to consume it outside of private residences. Many states have guidelines in place for the creation of consumption spaces, but have been slow to implement them and issue licenses. After years of waiting, both consumers and local cannabis businesses are fed up, which has driven the recent push.

Hands passing a joint

Amsterdam spear headed cannabis lounges with their coffeeshops. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Taking a nod from the Dutch, cannabis consumption lounges are another level of service the marijuana industry can provide consumers. With tourism increasing in the states where cannabis use is legal, local economies continue to experience significant increases in revenue. From lounges to pot cafés, the concept and allure is often unique to their locations. More than just a place to smoke cannabis in public, cannabis consumption lounges are also educational opportunities for both cannabis newbies and experienced consumers. In addition to providing legal places for social cannabis consumption, lounges also help to alleviate the social constructs surrounding the consumption of marijuana, while educating consumers on the benefits of using cannabis and cannabis products. More importantly, cannabis consumption lounges give the inexperienced cannabis consumer a safe place to experiment, relax, and enjoy an environment that is casual, with a community of experienced consumers who can ensure their time at a lounge is enjoyable. 

a dark lit room with rounded purple couches and a bar in the back

It’s only a matter of time before lounges start popping up to provide safe smoking locations for consumers. Photo credit: Shutterstock

De-stigmatization of cannabis use with the bonus of industry partnerships and product innovation is another reason why cannabis consumption lounges are making waves.

The First Wave of Cannabis Lounge Openings Begins

Although COVID is still looming, many United States cannabis lounges are planning to re-open as early as this summer. In Nevada, the Vegas Tasting Room, a cannabis consumption lounge located within their extensive NuWu Cannabis Marketplace is open offering tourists and locals alike a legal place to consume. In Colorado, where the legalization of cannabis use has paved the way for many other states to follow suit, Denver’s premier cannabis social club the Tetra Lounge is taking hospitality to the next level with daily smoke sessions and private cannabis lounge events providing customers with a one-of-a-kind experience.

Image of different appetizers with cannabis packaging beside a plate full of bread and dip

The Original Cannabis Cafe is a lounge located in Hollywood to enjoy weed as you eat. Photo credit: Original Cannabis Cafe

California’s first legal cannabis consumption lounge, the Original Cannabis Café in West Hollywood, opened in late 2019. The café blends cannabis-infused foods and a traditional dispensary complete with high-quality cannabis flowers, vapes, pre-packaged edibles, concentrates, and extracts with the objective of bringing social and educational cannabis experience to newcomers, tourists, and experts.  The Original Cannabis Café is expected to re-open this summer. Appealing to cannabis fans and savvy business owners alike the ambience is the cornerstone of cannabis consumption lounges.

What to Expect in 2022 with Cannabis Consumption Lounges

New and existing laws surrounding the public use of cannabis will open doors for entrepreneurs who are not interested in growing, processing, and distributing with a traditional dispensary model. Tourism dollars are expected to rise in the states where cannabis is legal, however, consumers have nowhere to legally smoke it, not outdoors in public places nor in private hotel rooms.  Because cannabis is not legal on a federal level, it will be up to each state that has legal marijuana laws to enact rules and regulations surrounding cannabis consumption lounges.  Currently, 7 US states have legislation in place for cannabis consumption lounges with more states following close behind with legislation in the works. States like California and Nevada with more mature marijuana laws will continue to see a wide variety and styles of cannabis consumption lounges opening in the near future.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Which States Have Cannabis Consumption Lounges?

California, Colorado, Nevada, Michigan, Illinois, New York, and New Jersey

What is a consumption lounge?

Similar to an establishment that serves alcohol, cannabis consumption lounges are designated public spaces for legal age cannabis users to enjoy cannabis in an atmosphere of like-minded individuals.  Meant for avid and new users and everyone in between, cannabis consumption lounges offer an array of products including edibles, pre-rolls, infused beverages, vapes, cannabis flower, concentrates, and smoking accessories. 

What is it like to be inside a cannabis consumption lounge?

Cannabis users who want to immerse themselves in a laid-back atmosphere while enjoying cannabis will feel right at home inside a cannabis consumption lounge. From the quaint coffee shops and eclectic cafés to the flashier Vegas lounges, the experience is friendly, centered around community and cannabis. Some cannabis consumption lounges also have professional chefs who craft cannabis-infused food, art, live entertainment, and personalized “flower hosts” who provide recommendations and help guide customers through the experience. Budtenders are also available to help cannabis consumers find the perfect pre-roll, vape, or concentrate based on the customer’s level of familiarity with cannabis.

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