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The U.S. has unlimited public spaces designated for consuming alcohol, so why not offer an alternative like marijuana lounges? Many cannabis enthusiasts struggle to find a place to consume their marijuana, while others simply desire to gather and meet friends with common interests. Providing cannabis consumers with a safe place to take part in this sociable activity might just be the next step in improving the weed market.
For a handful of states, marijuana lounges are a reality. Now, Massachusetts might be following their lead. In 2016, Massachusetts voted to approve cannabis cafe-like businesses, or “social consumption sites” in the state. Although the state has hit some speed bumps since it was approved, the legislation is finally seeing some movement.
What are Marijuana Lounges?
First of all, what are marijuana lounges? A weed lounge, or a cannabis consumption lounge, is a business that allows on-site cannabis consumption for those of legal age. Meaning that after you purchase your cannabis product, you can stay right where you are to test it out. This is great for people who are traveling and can’t smoke in their hotel or Airbnb, those who live with children, in public housing, or just want to socialize with their community.
Marijuana lounges allow guests to smoke, vape, eat, or drink their cannabis in a safe, enclosed area. These spaces provide a place for consumers to ask questions and learn more about how to get the most out of cannabis. A pot cafe in the U.S. is typically also a dispensary. This is because they offer marijuana flower, concentrates, tinctures, and cannabis-infused food and beverages.
History and Success of Marijuana Lounges
Amsterdam is a proper place to start when talking about the history of marijuana lounges. In the 1970s, the Netherlands’ federal government legally distinguished the difference between “hard” and “soft” drugs, without actually making cannabis legal or illegal. That’s when Dutch “coffee shops” came to fruition. These served as a place for guests 18 and older to purchase weed, hang out, and smoke.
Legislation overlooked these “coffee shops” due to the explosion of hard drugs at the time, existing in a “legal gray area.”
Since then, marijuana lounges and cannabis-cafe-like businesses have made their way to the United States. Though slow, their success and adding something special to the cannabis market is blossoming.
The fundamental difference between a pot cafe in places like Amsterdam and a cannabis consumption lounge in the U.S. is all the regulations. Massachusetts marijuana regulations have particularly been tricky to navigate for a state that has already approved these businesses.
Massachusetts Cannabis Laws Surrounding Marijuana Lounges
MA cannabis consumers have yet to see a weed lounge or pot cafe in the commonwealth due to legal technicalities that prevented cities and towns from being able to vote to bring these cafes within their borders.
But in 2022, the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy passed a bill to remove that blockage, bringing residents one step closer to enjoying Massachusetts cannabis lounges. The proposed bill would allow residents to request a vote by city or town to allow the lounges/cafes.
Once the legislative change becomes law, six to 12 municipalities could opt into the three-year pilot program for marijuana lounges. The bill states that the party would grant licenses to those from economically disadvantaged groups.
In addition, the committee voted to put tighter restrictions on the contracts between marijuana businesses and their host communities. The bill authorizes the Cannabis Control Commission in Massachusetts to review host community agreements as part of the license application process and to approve applications that comply with the agreement.
The CCC in MA will enforce a “safe-harbor period” in which host communities, marijuana establishments, and medical marijuana treatment centers must renegotiate any existing agreements that are “out of compliance with this act.”
The committee also created the Massachusetts Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund. This would be seeded with $10 million and refreshed with 20% of the revenue brought in by the state’s marijuana excise tax in order to provide no-interest loans, forgivable loans, and grants.
LEARN MORE: If You Have a Medical Marijuana Card, Where Can You Smoke?
Massachusetts Marijuana Laws
Massachusetts marijuana laws are fairly progressive compared to many U.S. states. Voters approved marijuana decriminalization in 2008, medical marijuana in 2012, and adult-use legalization in 2016. But, it seems that Massachusetts marijuana laws might not yet be what the state set out for them to be.
Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to mandate that equity and inclusion be part of its legal cannabis framework. The state launched programs designed to assist entrepreneurs and businesses from communities disproportionately harmed by the decades of marijuana prohibition. But, only 6% of the licenses issued for the cannabis industry have gone to social equity program participants or economic empowerment priority applicants, according to the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Cannabis Policy.
Click here for Your Ultimate Guide to Medical Marijuana Massachusetts
Recreational Cannabis in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts marijuana laws state that a person 21 years of age or older will not be punished in any way for lawfully possessing, using, purchasing, cultivating, processing, or manufacturing marijuana for personal use.
These recreational regulations allow:
- Possessing up to 10 ounces of marijuana in one’s residence
- Cultivating or processing up to 6 marijuana plants for personal use in one’s residence
- Employing a person who lawfully engages in marijuana-related activities
- Giving away without remuneration up to 1 ounce of marijuana to someone 21+
- Lawfully partaking in cannabis activities at any property one owns, occupies, or manages
What Marijuana Lounges Would Be Like in The U.S.
Most cannabis connoisseurs dream of visiting businesses like marijuana cafes or marijuana coffee shops, but not all U.S. states with legal adult-use cannabis programs allow social consumption lounges. So, could more U.S. cities begin to integrate these lounges? What would they be like?
Picture this. You walk into a pot cafe where helpful employees greet you, guiding you through the weed lounge. They’re recommending cannabis products along the way. You learn more about each cannabis product, like the terpenes, THC, and CBD levels each product contains to pick the best option for you. You find a comfy seat, spark up a joint, and eventually meet a new friend. Your guide is ensuring each guests’ safety throughout the experience and you feel right at home. It’s beautiful, right? Here are some examples.
The Luna Lounge in Sesser, Illinois, describes itself as an “on-site cannabis consumption lounge and smoke shop.” Guests can stop in for a quick purchase or stick around and consume their products. The Luna Lounge even offers board games, video games, craft areas, and more.
Some cannabis lounges might not also be considered pot cafes. Las Vegas, Nevada’s marijuana lounge NuWu Cannabis is not a cannabis cafe, but simply a dispensary that features a “tasting room” in which guests can try out different cannabis products. NuWu Cannabis provides the equipment, like bongs and dab rigs, all guests need to do is sit back and toke up however they choose.
What about being surrounded by a strong weed smell and smokiness? Marijuana lounges could even use an odor-removing HVAC system, just like the Original Cannabis Cafe in West Hollywood, California.
What States Have Marijuana Cafes
There are a variety of exciting marijuana lounges operating successfully in major cities across the U.S. But if you were to search “cannabis lounge near me”, nothing would show up in most states. The only states that allow businesses like a cannabis cafe or weed lounge include:
- New Jersey
- New York
And soon, Massachusetts cannabis consumers could be seeing marijuana lounges in their own state.
Kick Your Feet Up and Lounge, Elevate Holistics Has You Covered
Even without the perks of a cannabis cafe or marijuana lounge, cannabis consumers can still find joy in sparking up anywhere it’s legal. But in most states, the first step to consuming cannabis is getting your medical marijuana card. You’re in luck – Elevate Holistics is here to make that process as quick and easy as possible.
Elevate Holistics helps you connect with a board-certified cannabis physician to receive your MMJ card recommendation. All you have to do is choose a time to video chat with the doctor and we will walk you through the rest of the process.
For a smooth start to your medical marijuana journey, book an appointment now with Elevate Holisitcs.
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