Everything’s green at the Smokeasy at RISE Lounge — Photo courtesy of Green Thumb Industries
Folks are flying high, and we don’t mean in the air. With cannabis now legal in 46 states across the country, cannatourism is booming. There are hotels, lounges, restaurants, and pop-up dinners open to tokers, smokers, and the canna-curious in at least 10 states, including California, New Jersey, Nevada, Arizona, and Illinois.
Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, so marijuana laws — whether for growing, selling, or consuming — are overseen by individual states. Enjoying cannabis in public spaces, like a restaurant or lounge, is the latest frontier for the billion-dollar industry. Not every state, or every city in a recreational-use state, allows public consumption of marijuana, so it’s a good idea to know the rules and regulations before you partake.
Before heading to your first pot bar, let’s get some basics down first. What is cannabis? It’s another name for all the products — dried flowers, leaves, and stems — derived from the cannabis plant. There are over 500 chemical substances in cannabis, including CBD and THC.
What is THC? Short for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, THC is the main psychoactive ingredient in the cannabis plant. It’s what makes you feel high when you smoke, eat, or drink cannabis products. CBD, or cannabidiol, also derives from the cannabis plant, but it doesn’t have psychoactive properties, so you don’t get high from it. It’s regulated differently than THC, which is why you see CBD products legally sold outside of dispensaries.
Now that you have some basic definitions, check out these six spots to legally toke flower, enjoy THC-infused drinks and dishes, or snack on edibles with friends and soon-to-be-friends.
The Studio Cannabis Lounge, West Hollywood, California
Patrons can toke inside or out at The Studio Cannabis Lounge — Photo courtesy of The Artist Tree
West Hollywood dubbed itself the Emerald Village to encourage new cannabis dispensaries and related businesses and the tourism that follows. The Artist Tree — part dispensary, part lounge, and part performance space — is one of the highlights.
The cannabis dispensary is beautifully decorated with vibrant, locally sourced artwork. At the dispensary’s public Studio Cannabis Lounge folks can enjoy the cannabis-infused food and beverages menu while consuming cannabis products they purchased in the store. That means sipping tea or coffee and nibbling on dessert while smoking a vape or chewing on a gummy.
The lounge also hosts an array of events including comedy performances, yoga, burlesque shows, a wake-and-bake drag brunch, art classes, high tea, and more.
Buds & Brews, Nashville, Tennessee
Nashville’s Buds & Brews serves up THC-infused condiments to make comfort food extra comfy — Photo courtesy of Jordyn Rothman
At Buds & Brews, Tennessee’s first cannabis bar, you’ll find typical bar fare like wings, burgers, wraps, and fries enhanced with a “green” twist. Diners can choose from a selection of food condiments infused with THC, including BBQ sauce, hot mustard, mayo, and more. Save room for dessert and bring friends: The brownie has a whopping 32 milligrams of THC!
At the cannabis bar, those who partake can rent a bong vaporizer for THC products purchased from the on-site dispensary. There are also THC-infused beverages along with a traditional bar menu.
Cannescape Pop-Ups, Northern California
A guest self-doses with THC oil at a Cannescape dinner — Photo courtesy of Cynthia Glassell Photography
Weed aficionados can plan travels around the roving pop-up, Cannescape. Operated by Chelsea Davis, this BIPOC-owned, cannabis-infused dining company holds all-inclusive overnight events around Northern California.
Pop-up dinners include menus prepared with seasonal ingredients, plus THC oil for self-dosing, fireside educational chats by local cannabis industry players, and a generous goody bag of cannabis products. Cannescape’s menus are created by resident chef — and “Chopped 420” champion — Solomon Johnson.
The Clarendon Hotel, Phoenix, Arizona
Clarendon Hotel caters to cannabis lovers in Phoenix, Arizona — Photo courtesy of @lau_dmn Via Instagram
The adults-only, retro-inspired Clarendon Hotel allows marijuana consumption in select areas of the property. Rooms are typically equipped with king or queen beds, free Wi-Fi, and 50-inch flat-screen TVs. The fun comes with events held throughout the year, such as “Ganja Flow,” a cannabis-enhanced yoga session on the hotel’s fifth-floor SkyDeck.
The on-site, members-only Elevations Lounge allows guests to partake in cannabis, CBD beverages, and relaxing vibes in a sophisticated space. Hotel guests can purchase a guest membership for an “elevated stay.”
OKAY Cannabis, Wheeling, Illinois
The vibrant OKAY cannabis lounge is the perfect place to unwind with a pre-roll — Photo courtesy of OKAY Cannabis
OKAY Cannabis operates three cannabis lifestyle dispensaries in Illinois, with the Wheeling location being the brand’s first outpost with a cannabis lounge, plus a cannabis-free bakery, cafe, and cocktail bar. Enjoy light bites in the cannabis lounge, along with a menu of papers, bongs, and dabbers for your purchase next door. The space is equipped with large TVs for sporting events and movie nights.
Know before you go: While there is also a cannabis-free bar at this location, alcoholic beverages aren’t allowed in the cannabis consumption lounge. (You can order a mocktail and have it enhanced with CBD drops, though!) Reservations are required for the lounge and are limited to 90 minutes. Folks can only consume cannabis products purchased from the on-site dispensary on the same day as their reservation.
RISE Mundelein Lounge & Smokeasy, Mundelein, Illinois
The swanky Smokeasy at the RISE Mundelein location has tableside service — Photo courtesy of Green Thumb Industries
The Smokeasy at the RISE Mundelein Lounge is a reservation-only experience where guests can enjoy cannabis products purchased at the adjoining dispensary.
Sit in big emerald-green booths or at the bar and choose from a wide selection of partaking devices, which helpful servers can bring to your table. If you’ve never used (or want to invest in) a gravity bong or dab rig, this is your chance. There’s a two-hour table limit on all reservations. The lounge hosts special events, including live music, painting classes, and standup comedy.
Note: If you’re new to using cannabis, the best rule of thumb to follow is to start low (potency) and slow (take your time). When shopping for cannabis in a legal dispensary, restaurant, or lounge, talk to your “budtenders” and servers about potency. Everyone wants you to have a good experience; trust them and their knowledge.