It may be 4/20, but in a matter of months, West Hollywood could very well become the new Amsterdam, with numerous cannabis cafes and bars opening for consumption all year round. Last December, the City of West Hollywood announced the arrival of these new weed restaurants with many slated to open later this year. Officials approved several consumption licenses where cannabis, vaping and edibles will be permitted.
John Leonard, the city’s manager of community and legislative affairs, has been thrilled with these new businesses.
“We continue to be very impressed by the quality and caliber of the consumption lounge concepts that will be coming to West Hollywood, many of which are unique, innovative and world class,” he says. “The range of visions among all of the approved applicants, retail and consumption, reflect an entirely new era of integrated marketplaces, consumption lounges and cafes, cannabis restaurants and immersive experiences all of which go far beyond models currently seen in the state, or even the world. We believe these business will set West Hollywood apart and solidify the future success of the cannabis industry in the city.”
Weho officials are working with the selected cannabis consumption lounge applicants to move them through the city license process, Leonard says. Some have secured location and will be going before the Business License Commission in coming months. Officials are also working on clarifying legislation at the state level.
Currently, there are differences between state and local law regarding the operation of these lounges. Proposition 64 allows cities the ability to license businesses for the consumption of cannabis. However, since no cannabis consumption license is available at the state level, businesses that receive local licenses must obtain a state adult-use retail cannabis license and conform to those regulations, Leonard said.
Current state adult-use cannabis retail regulations do not allow for the onsite sale of non-cannabis food.
“This is problematic, because cannabis consumption lounges are more aligned with hospitality-based businesses, a very different business model than cannabis retail businesses; requiring consumption lounges to conform to retail regulations significantly hampers their business model,” he says.
To correct this issue, West Hollywood has been working with Assemblymember Richard Bloom on AB 1465, which creates a new license category for consumption cafes/lounges. If approved, the Bureau of Cannabis Control will create regulations for the license type. In the interim (until regulations are adopted) AB 1465 allows the bureau to issue retail licenses with a consumption designation.
“These unique interim retail licenses will require the consumption businesses to adhere to state retail regulations, but with certain exceptions, such as allowing the preparation and the sale of food,” Leonard says.
Cooking and drinking
LKSD Kitchen owner/chef Marc Branden Shelton has been asked to consult for a location in West Hollywood and is very interested in the upcoming project.
“Time will tell how the industry and customers take to the new flavors, but nevertheless, it’s an exciting time,” he says. “WeHo is stepping up their game for sure being one of the first cities to welcome the new legislation passed. Working with the community, these new cafes will need to help guide the consumer base to make sure its successful and safe.”
For 4/20, LKSD will offer several CBD cocktails and a CBD compound butter for their restaurant’s 40-ounce, 28-day Dry Aged Tomahawk Steak, which might become an ongoing addition to the menu.
Shelton enjoys cooking with cannabis and CBD.
“The flavor profiles are extremely intriguing. Trying to meld them together to compose a dish is quite the challenge. The newer water-soluble isolate for CBD is awesome to work with, especially for newcomers to cannabis and CBD.”
While CBD cocktails were popular throughout Los Angeles, recently it has seemed like these drinks are no longer prevalent. Maxwell Reis, the beverage director at Gracias Madre Weho, believes this happened because the new laws that are designed to help cannabis, also regulate it more closely.
“California has always feared the legalization of marijuana as much as it has advocated for it,” Reis says. “Many of the powers that kept the cannabis movement at bay are now defining its progression. With both money and progress to be made, the playful loopholes some found to introduce cannabis products to the mainstream have unfortunately become casualties. The CBD cocktail is the most notable local example of this.”
Reis believes that West Hollywood, being such a progressive and conscious neighborhood, is the perfect place to kick things off and figure it all out.
“It’s a hell of time to be alive and I’m excited to see where things land,” he says.
Celebrating around town
With so much happening to commemorate 4/20, here’s a roundup of all things cannabis:
• Bellacures has created Los Angeles’ first cannabis infused manicure and pedicure, the Canna-cure. Using CBD, or cannabidiol-based products from Kush Queen, the Canna-cure will provide the ultimate relaxing and therapeutic experience.
“Bellacures is a place to come unwind,” says Gerard Quiroga, owner of the Bellacures nail salon brand. “With the legalization of cannabis in California, we wanted to offer our clients a new way to feel relaxed and refreshed. CBD products can provide relief from everyday tension or heel-wearing aches and pains while creating a state of unparalleled relaxation.”
• Island will host a treat tour in partnership with Coolhaus Ice Cream Saturday and Sunday at select dispensaries around Los Angeles. Customers of these locations will be able to receive a free ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus truck parked outside.
• Dixie Brands, a popular cannabis edibles provider in California, is launching “GO Green,” a brand commitment to transition Dixie towards a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future. They are partnering with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit that works with reforestation organizations around the world to get trees in the ground in order to help with forest fire recovery, expanding wildlife habitats, improving watershed health and providing a social impact to local communities. To support the organization’s mission and to help offset its carbon footprint, Dixie will donate $1.00 from every Dixie Brands product purchased on 4/20. For every $1 Dixie donates, One Tree Planted will plant one tree in North America.
• If you have the munchies after partaking, check out Humphry Slocombe’s 4/20. It’s got two scoops of vanilla ice cream with chocolate potato chips, pretzels and hot fudge.
• If you’re looking to relax on 4/20, Kurvana offers a selection of new wellness-inspired products to benefit mental health, skin, digestion, joints, sleep, and overall health. Their line of vape pens combine fruits and botanicals with perfectly balanced ratios of CBD and/or THC for a soothing experience that maximizes the wellness benefits of the cannabis plant.