West Hollywood cannabis parlors are making a comeback
Less than six months before the start of the pandemic, the Original Cannabis Cafe – known when it opened as the Lowell Cafe – debuted with a huge, green-tinted bong. The country’s first cannabis lounge played to long lines that twisted on La Brea Avenue, with locals and tourists waiting their turn to openly consume cannabis in a restaurant. Everything from bongs to vape pens, cannabis oil, cannabis concentrate (also known as dabs) and cannabis drinks were heavily rotated, as was a “host flowers” to roll personalized table joints.
The Cannabis Cafe was a big hit, thanks in large part to the city of West Hollywood itself. Authorities began developing long-term plans to run cannabis parlors long before California’s adult use became legal in 2017, launching a licensing process to have a total of 10 dispensaries and 16 parlors. of consumption in the compact city of WeHo in a short time. The approach was strategic, going back 40 years of WeHo’s longstanding relationship with cannabis.
Then, of course, came the pandemic. In March 2020, the Cannabis Cafe and future consumer lounges temporarily suspended plans, freezing one of the most exciting new hotel markets to hit Los Angeles in years. While restaurants were allowed to serve with social distancing guidelines, the Cannabis Cafe remained closed as future WeHo consumption sites figured out what to do – after all, consuming cannabis on-site is an inherently social activity with airborne issues at stake.
Fast forward to 2022 and this two-year lull ends. Now a new generation of cannabis consumer lounges is getting ready to open around West Hollywood, including some with notable celebrity names attached. There’s even activity happening beyond West Hollywood with restaurants, hotels and other CBD hospitality projects landing in and around greater Los Angeles, so here’s a look at the state of the scene right now.
The Artist Tree becomes WeHo’s second cannabis consumer lounge
Cannabis lounges in West Hollywood will increase in number in the coming months, and the first comes from the artist tree. With four dispensary locations across Southern California, this flagship dispensary is already up and running with a consumer lounge opening later this month on Santa Monica Boulevard, three blocks west of La Cienega. The owners of Artist Tree will also open a second drinking lounge in the lanai space, but in the section furthest from the sidewalk. The group is one of the few to have received every license possible in West Hollywood: adult retail, medical retail, delivery, a full cannabis consumer lounge and an edibles lounge where more than half of the space is designated by law as non-smoking. It’s a colossal undertaking that could reshape LA’s drinking scene.
Tea, food, massage and more at Aeon Botanika
Aeon Botanika originally planned to open in the spring of 2020, but co-founder and certified nutritionist Nicole Fox is now planning an April or May opening date. What sets this consumer fair apart is the focus on wellness. The cannabis consumer lounge will serve tea, as well as staff who can recommend cannabis with acupuncture, nutritionist consultants, and on-site bodywork services. Originally, a restaurant was planned for Aeon, but it’s on hold for now. Fox tells Eater that she is actively looking for a food partner.
Monica’s House Celebrity Names
This green rush of consumer shows includes some very recognizable names, including the future Monica’s house. Investors include actor Woody Harrelson and HBO Real time host Bill Maher, and plans are underway to open in early summer. Monica’s House will be one of the finest places to ingest cannabis in the area, settling into Schoos Design’s beautiful former studio on Santa Monica Boulevard.
A bit of cannabis history, update
The Original Cannabis Cafe remains temporarily closed, but plans to reopen later this year. Meanwhile Eagles Fly won approval to convert the historic building and former Flaming Saddles bar into a split-level space with a restaurant downstairs and smoking and non-smoking cannabis areas upstairs. Investors have two years to organize a massive construction. Elsewhere, LA Patients & Caregivers Group – one of West Hollywood’s oldest dispensaries – will open its own consumer lounge, but only for edibles. City rules apply at LAPCG with the opening of an edible lounge with more than half the space dedicated to non-smokers.
Other Cannabis Updates
In mid-2021, Jay-Z’s parent company purchased the Calma dispensary. It’s a short walk from the Original Cannabis Cafe, and the rapper’s Monogram cannabis brand is sold on-site.
West Hollywood isn’t the only city hosting cannabis-friendly businesses. Chef Chris Sayegh opened a CBD-focused restaurant and lounge in Santa Monica earlier this year called Nostalgia, where he uses CBD and terpenes in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. CBD and terpenes contain the non-psychoactive element of cannabis.
Downtown LA’s Gusto Green opened its doors last December. The restaurant has an exclusive relationship with the only federally approved hemp grower for food, Ziese Farms, and the restaurant looks at the use of hemp everywhere.