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Where to find legal cannabis lounges in the US

Published Sep 17, 2022 01:00 p.m. ET
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It may be legal to buy, possess and consume cannabis in many US states, but finding a place to legally consume is a whole different story. In most, it’s not legal to light up just anywhere, and even though there are more than 8,000 dispensaries in business, a cannabis lounge to relax in is still quite hard to come by. If you want a beer, a glass of wine, or some other spirits you’ll have an easy time finding a local bar, but only certain states facilitate a similar experience for cannabis users.

If you want to have a stress-free sesh, then it's important to know all about your state's cannabis consumption laws, and luckily for you, this guide is designed to help.

The history of the cannabis lounge

The first consumption spaces were born underground, forced to hide due to prohibition. These gathering places date back as far as the 1800s when hemp retreats and hash clubs popped up in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Boston. New York alone was home to more than 500 tea pads in the 1930s, and they played an important role as a safe space mainly for Black Americans who would listen to jazz and sesh in style and comfort.

The evolution of the weed lounge has made leaps and bounds, transforming into the places so many enthusiasts know and love today, which is why it is so critical for us to recognize the deep roots of this type of gathering space in history. One great example is the San Francisco Buyers Club, run by the well-respected advocate and leader Dennis Peron, which fostered a community that worked to bring forward Prop 215 in 1994 in California - fighting for good while creating a reliable network for medical patients to access this life-changing medicine.

Social cannabis lounges have always offered a safe haven from discrimination.

States that allow consumption lounges

Both city and state-level governments play a critical part in deciding where and when cannabis may be consumed. Smoking and vaping cannabis are often restricted to private residences only, which means that anyone living in spaces with shared ventilation like apartments or rooming houses may not have anywhere to legally consume it. In many cases, landlords may also ban smoking in rental units further limiting the number of safe places for enthusiasts and patients to sesh.

So far only 10 US states have established regulations that allow for and protect social consumption spaces. These include:

  • Alaska
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • Nevada

It is also important to note that four other states including Nevada, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey have voted to legalize licensed lounges, but they have not yet established a licensing system which is necessary before legal businesses can open.

What to expect

IIRC

If you plan on visiting a consumption space, and you’ve never done so before, it can take the edge off to know a little bit about what you should expect.

  • You may or may not be able to buy cannabis

  • Usually, even if you can't buy cannabis products on-site, they’ll be easy to find either nearby or via delivery service.

  • You may or may not be allowed to bring your own cannabis products from home

  • You will probably find papers, bongs, dab rigs and/or vaporizers on-site

  • Many dispensaries boast time limits

  • Food may or may not be available

  • Most consumption spaces are equipped with air filtration systems

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