Now that California has legalized marijuana for recreational use, the potheads now want Amsterdam-style pot lounges in several cities, stretching the new law to its limits.
According to the L.A. Times, the city of West Hollywood, long known for pushing the social boundaries, is looking to allow marijuana lounges as seen in Amsterdam.
"The city is poised to allow cannabis lounges where people can consume the once-taboo product in a social setting," reports the Times. "West Hollywood will join San Francisco, Oakland and South Lake Tahoe, which earlier this year became some of the first cities in California to open the consumption lounges modeled after those in Amsterdam. Communities in the Coachella Valley are also joining the ranks."
Not all of California's cities have embraced the legalization of pot. Some have actively fought against the setting up of pot dispensaries. Either way, the potheads have won and now they're finishing the job by pushing red light districts where anything goes. The City of Los Angeles has, however, provided some pushback to the creation of pot dispensaries, worried that could create difficulties with assessing a marijuana DUI. The potheads say the lounges will only help the city by increasing tourism.
"Consumption lounges are important because marijuana has been legalized, but where can people go to safely consume?" said Jackie Rocco, business development manager for West Hollywood. "If you're a renter and your landlord doesn't allow smoking, or if you're a parent and don't want to do it around your children, where can you go?"
Last November, the City Council approved a new cannabis use ordinance allowing business licenses for consumption areas or lounges in West Hollywood. The city will start accepting applications for consumption lounges in May. Officials plan to grant up to eight licenses for lounges with smoking, vaping and edibles, and eight permits restricted to edibles. Each application will be scored by a five-member committee.
"We're at the center of everything that is entertainment," said West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath. "This new economy really addresses needs and interests of the community while also being a way for people to enjoy themselves. Pushing the envelope on entertainment while safely enjoying a night out — that's what we're continuing to do here."
Part of the reason why West Hollywood stands at the forefront of this pot phenomenon is the city's embracing of marijuana during the HIV/AIDS scare in the 1980s.
"In the early days, obviously we had a number of people, and still do in the community, who are personally impacted by HIV and AIDS and that caused us to support medical use of cannabis," said West Hollywood Mayor John Heilman. "The city, I would say, was a pioneer of sorts."