California has always been one of the most progressive states in the nation. With recent recreational cannabis legislation, several cities in the Golden State are considering the concept of cannabis lounges where weed lovers will be able to smoke together, much like how people drink alcoholic beverages at bars and pubs in cities and towns everywhere across the country.
Cannabis lounges in San Francisco have shown to be successful since 2005 when the city started to allow lounges in medical dispensaries. There are currently three medical dispensaries and five recreational cannabis shops in San Francisco. In neighboring city Oakland, two recreational cannabis dispensaries are permitted to have cannabis lounges.
Palm Springs is set to be next, and if all goes as planned will become the first city in Southern California to open a cannabis lounge. In December, Palm Springs voted to allow cannabis lounges and on June 14 Coachella Valley Green Dragon was granted a permit to open what will be SoCal’s first cannabis lounge.
The plan for Green Dragon is to have a dispensary downstairs and a smoking lounge upstairs in a portion of the building at 353 S. Palm Canyon Drive. The business owner who occupies the other portion of the building Green Dragon is planning to set up shop in isn’t exactly happy to be sharing his space with a cannabis-based business.
Casey Bahr has run a wellness center and spa in 75 percent of the space at 353 S. Palm Canyon Drive for 20 years. He says that if Green Dragon is given the go-ahead, he’ll choose to relocate. He’s mainly concerned about the odor that he is sure will reach his customers despite strict regulations for odor control regarding indoor cannabis consumption.
“We can’t subjects our clients and patients to that kind of indoor pollution,” Bahr says.
He contends that the smell of marijuana “ruins the building for occupancy for anybody else but a pot-based business.”
Bahr, however, may be out of luck. There are only a few more obstacles to overcome before Green Dragon becomes SoCal’s very first cannabis lounge. For one, they still need approval from the city for a few small changes they have planned for the property. Green Dragon will also need a waiver from city council since the lounge and dispensary won’t have the 500-foot buffer between them that is necessary per city law.
Green Dragon isn’t the only would-be cannabis lounge looking to open up in Palm Springs. Five other applications have been submitted and are all in the process of approval.
Other cities in SoCal are looking to follow suit, but the process so far has been slow. In Cathedral City, roughly 15 minutes away from Palm Springs, cannabis lounges were approved in February. Applications, however, still haven’t been made available to the public.
In West Hollywood, there were some 100 applications submitted for cannabis lounges when the city initiated its application period. With the number of applications received and the lengthy process of the planning process and acquiring necessary permits and licenses, its estimated that West Hollywood won’t see cannabis lounges open until Spring 2019.
For now, it seems that Palm Springs will become the first Southern California city where cannabis lovers can freely consumer in a space designed especially for them. In the wild world of ever-changing legislation and acceptance of recreational cannabis, is safe to assume that Green Dragon will be the first of many cannabis lounges to come.