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Wednesday, September 27, 2023

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Arts + CultureCulturePuff: The case for the cannabis lounge

Puff: The case for the cannabis lounge

More locations, onsite munchies—and the ultimate horror show for conservatives, 420 drag bingo.

I had no idea how lucky we are! Of the few dozen smoking lounges authorized in the state of California, about half of them are in the Bay Area.

That means we are already starting to get used to walking in a dispensary, purchasing products and accessories, and renting a smoking device to stick around and imbibe cannabis. Clearly, it also means we need to encourage more of them to get licensed!

As I have said before, we can’t expect the city or the state to create a cannabis social life for us. It is up to us to go out and make our dreams a reality. That is why I am hosting drag cannabis bingo at Bong-o Bingo every second Tuesday of the month. I also produce “Tokie-oke” and a cannabis cabaret at Moe Greens Dispensary. You need an excuse to go to smoking lounges to be entertained while you smoke weed, drink a mocktail, or puff on a vape.

Plus, it looks like we might be getting a hand up from the state if Matt Haney’s Assembly Bill 374 becomes law. California Bill 374 would allow cannabis dispensaries to prepare and sell non-infused food and beverages like coffee to their customers, as well as host live entertainment.

The Barbary Coast consumption lounge shines.

“Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others. And many people want to do that while sipping coffee, eating a scone, or listening to music,” Haney told The San Mateo Daily Journal.

“To be clear, we’re not saying that coffee shops should be allowed to sell cannabis. We’re saying that cannabis shops should be allowed to sell coffee.”

As it stands, cannabis lounges allow you to bring in outside food to eat. That means lost potential profits for the dispensaries, who are already dealing with new taxes and all the other fees associated with running a cannabis business. Why not let them sell coffee, teas, sandwiches, sweet rolls and snacks to their clients. Isn’t that what a stoner needs with their weed purchases anyway? They are called the munchies for a reason!

It is about time we started making some changes to Proposition 64. When it was passed, one of the arguments in its support was that we could amend the imperfect legislation later on down the line. Well, it has been six years, time for more amendments.

According to the Urban Institute, California had the highest total state revenue from cannabis in 2022, at $774 million. The state is doing just fine—now it is time to start making sure the industry it has created can sustain itself so profits can still continue to grow for all.

It is so important for other areas of the state besides the Bay Area to start developing authorized smoking areas so the cannabis movement can thrive. Frankly, with the estimated 48.8 million pounds of weed sold in the US last year, it’s about time everyone sees the trend and gets with it—especially the government.

A Pew Research Center poll found that 88 percent of all adults interviewed support legalizing cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. According to Gallup, people who tend to be on the dissenting side were those who attend church weekly, plus conservatives and older people.

I think the number is much higher than 88 percent. The older people probably have just not been educated yet, and conservatives and churchgoers would never admit to wanting to smoke weed in a survey.

Trust me, I grew up in the Bible Belt of Texas. The county I grew up in was dry, so people were known to hide beers in their refrigerator’s vegetable crispers. If you found their stash, they would hastily explain that it was for a recipe they were getting ready to make.

The same kind of local hypocrisy applied to cannabis. At one point, I found out that a distant relative who is extremely conservative was buying pounds of weed and making his own cannabis butter to be an ingredient in medicated brownies. So as soon as I saw that churchgoers and conservatives were on the other side of the poll numbers, I saw through that fallacy.

The point being, the numbers show support. If we want the rumblings of legalization in Washington DC to become more than that, we have to lead the way. California is the Golden State for weed. Improving to Prop 64 by letting people sell food and beverages in their dispensaries is a win/win for everyone, especially hungry stoners.

As spring blooms, I hope to see all of you out and about, checking in at your local dispensary’s smoking lounge. Try and make it become a habit, rather than a luxury. If you need more excuse, I heartily recommend checking out my shows as well by following me on Instagram.

Now it’s time to light up!

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Dan Karkoska
Dan Karkoska
Dan Karkoska is an independent producer, promoter, film critic, and DJ on the San Francisco scene. He also works with Maria Konner at Under the Golden Gate and is currently producing and hosting PUFF, the first queer marijuana rock-and-roll drag party every first Thursday at The Stud. He is a big stoner. Photo by Sari Staver.

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