Back in early 2020, cannabis entrepreneurs were eagerly looking to open lounges and tasting rooms across the country, often separate from dispensaries, where customers could relax and enjoy cannabis products in a communal atmosphere. And then — COVID-19 appeared.
Once people felt that COVID-19 was spreading by air, the idea of people all blowing cannabis smoke into an enclosed room no longer seemed appealing. Most lounges that were already open in the country had to temporarily close their doors. And those that were in the process of being opened had to change their plans.
So as America slowly reopens, the business of consumption lounges is preparing to come back. In states such as Illinois where essentially all COVID restrictions have been lifted, on‑site consumption is again permitted. In others that have not achieved the necessary metrics, lounges may still be closed, but owners are generally positive that they will soon have a green light.
In fact, just this month Nevada’s governor signed legislation into law to allow on-site consumption lounges. Both lounges for existing dispensary locations, and new independent lounges not located near a retailer, are allowed, subject to local government policy on allowing or restricting access. The law takes effect on October 1st.
One of the main concerns about consumption lounges has been that when cannabis is consumed outside of a private residence, people may be driving back home in an impaired condition. In places like Nevada where there is a significant amount of tourism, and patrons would be either walking or taking cabs or rideshare vehicles, this is generally seen as less of a potential problem.
So which states currently allow on-site consumption lounges? Right now the list includes:
Alaska: legal since 2018.
California: legal when approved by the locality, and tobacco and alcohol cannot be sold or consumed at the facility.
Colorado: legal since 2019.
Illinois: its very first lounge, a BYO facility, has recently opened in a small town 300 miles south of Chicago
Michigan: plans were approved last month for the first of what may be 28 eventual lounges in Ann Arbor (home of the University of Michigan).
New Jersey: allowed at licensed retail dispensaries, and customers can bring their own cannabis as well as buy it from the retailer.