Are Cannabis Consumption Lounges the New Legalization Trend?
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The global cannabis industry is maturing, demands are increasing and better reforms are being enacted for the industry to attain a mature market. The not-so-new innovation that is becoming prevalent now is the "cannabis consumption lounge".
The best way to explain this is to liken it to a bar. Simply put, a bar is an alcohol consumption lounge, that is a public space where alcoholic drinks are consumed. Therefore a cannabis consumption lounge is a licensed and safe space for a group of people to consume cannabis.
Cannabis lounges may just be the best element to make cannabis socially acceptable by all age groups in the country. It will go a long way in ensuring an equitable industry that caters to all.
There has been widespread excitement in some states due to the proposals for new cannabis lounges. These lounges will allow people from all spheres of life to congregate in a space to talk and consume cannabis products—just like restaurants and bars.
Compared to cannabis dispensaries, these consumption lounges are far and few in between; no thanks to the legal and restrictive regulations in the country— most especially on the federal level.
The pandemic also slowed down the process of setting up these lounges last year, as gatherings were restricted. Even legislative actions had to be halted at a point in time.
What started the trend?
This uptick can be attributed to the booming cannabis demands across the U.S. Cannabis entrepreneurs see this increased demand as an avenue to add value to the cannabis industry.
One of these entrepreneurs, Tim Wright (Of Shasta Management) said in an interview that the brand has plans to build the largest cannabis consumption lounge in the U.S soon. They plan to open this lounge in Imperial County, California.
Mr. Wright credited his brand's plans to the public because if not for their unwavering support for cannabis reforms, the industry might have remained stagnant.
The opening of cannabis lounges would permit U.S residents to socialize and have fun with friends and family while consuming cannabis. It will be like a restaurant gathering, only that these lounges would serve customers above the age of 21.
Most cannabis legalized cities in the United States now have plans to introduce these lounges in strategic locations. For this trend to be adopted in a state, lawmakers must first approve the recreational use of cannabis in that state.
Currently, only 17 states have legalized the recreational use of cannabis, and just 7 of these states approve the consumption of cannabis in public spaces. States are starting to see the need for consumption lounges as momentum increases in the cannabis industry.
They are beginning to see multiple benefits of these spaces; it will be a way for the government to check the indiscriminate consumption of cannabis in open locations as well as the smells that accompany its use.
As expected, the lounges that were shut down due to COVID-19 have been opened up. Lounge owners have hopes of opening up more across the states as the practice is being normalized gradually.
Some of the states that have opened or are in the process of opening cannabis consumption lounges are New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Illinois.
In New Jersey, only licensed cannabis retailers and medical dispensary owners can legally set up a cannabis consumption area. News12, New Jersey, reported that the state and local government only endorse these business owners to operate designated spaces for the consumption of cannabis. The current New Jersey regulations leave no room for stand-alone CCAs in the state.
In contrast to the NJ regulations, New York allows the establishment of stand-alone cannabis consumption lounges. The state reached a deal with canna-preneurs that would accept club-like areas where only cannabis can be sold. This means a potential investor does not have to also be into the cultivation or packaging of marijuana plants.
At least 6 billion dollars of revenue will be generated in the state by 2027 if these regulations are upheld.
Pennsylvania has just one cannabis lounge which is located in Abington, PA. Space is known as "The After Dispensary". However, it is only open to PA residents that have valid MMJ cards and they have to bring their cannabis along.
Nevada has the most promising prospects for cannabis lounges. Seeing that the state is acclaimed for the scandalous and fun-filled activities that occur in its most popular city, Las Vegas. The city has various selling points to encourage the opening of several cannabis lounges.
Currently, just one lounge has been opened in Nevada; the NuWu Cannabis Tasting Room, since late 2019. But, it is not enough to take care of the Nevada population and its steady stream of tourists that want to be able to consume the cannabis products bought in the state.
Right now, there are proposed licenses for retail cannabis consumption lounges and stand-alone cannabis consumption lounges.
In the next few months…
Some States would adopt better marijuana legalization proposals. This might be enough to cause an evolution in the U.S cannabis marketplace.
The acceptance of proposed cannabis lounges by lawmakers can increase and encourage more canna-investors to set up shop in the country. The economy of these areas and their surrounding communities will be stimulated.
David Farris, Plant 13 holdings Vp of sales and marketing said the consumption lounges will be beneficial to both the public and to the government coffers at all levels. It would create jobs and increase the state's tax revenue.
He also commended Las Vegas for its plans to open up much-needed cannabis consumption locations for tourists.
What needs to happen
The cannabis reforms are incredible feats, and the existing dispensaries are also appreciable initiatives, but regardless of these, cannabis consumption lounges are welcome improvements to the existing status quo.
Residents will have customer-centered locations to consume their weed. In no time these cannaprenuers will set up shop somewhere close to you. Hopefully, there will be lesser regulatory hurdles and these lounges will be able to flourish and make astounding profits.
For those wondering about the joint sales of cannabis and alcohol, it is unclear to say if the lawmakers in these states will eventually allow cannabis and alcohol to be sold in the same space.