Its smoking lounge cements San Francisco’s place as America’s leading recreational-cannabis destination.
There are more legal cannabis smoking lounges in San Francisco than in the rest of the U.S. combined.
We now have nine such lounges at dispensaries citywide, whereas Denver
just licensed only its second, Oakland has one, and the rest of America
does not have any.
Hell, a single block in SoMa has as many
marijuana lounges as the entire country outside San Francisco does. The
corner of Ninth and Mission streets is home to smoking lounges at the Vapor Room, SPARC, and ReLeaf.
Some of these lounges consist solely of
patio furniture thrown in a corner, while others are elaborate, baroque
parlors with chandeliers, flocked velvet wallpaper, and widescreen TVs.
The newest cannabis smoking lounge is the city’s most opulent yet, the
luxe lounge of the just-opened Market Street dispensary Moe Greens.
“It’s Lounge 2.0,” Moe Greens founder and CEO Nate Haas tells SF Evergreen.
“We wanted Moe Greens to be a throwback to the San Francisco our
grandparents and great-grandparents lived in, the San Francisco where
you’d get dressed up on a Saturday night and go to a place like Joe’s or
Alfred’s Steakhouse for a drink.”
Despite the Las Vegas-inspired logo, the name “Moe Greens” is not a reference to the casino mogul from The Godfather.
“One day, I was holding some cannabis and
my partner, who sometimes calls me Moe, said, ‘That’s a lot of green,
Moe,’ ” Haas remembers. “That was the light bulb moment. Now we provide
‘mo green at Moe Greens.’ ”
It has by far the largest legal
consumption lounge in the city, with separate, dedicated rooms for
vaping, smoking, and dabbing. Its swanky aesthetic is similar to that of
the Barbary Coast dispensary, which is run by the same management team.
“Lounges are very important for us,” Haas says. “When recreational cannabis passed, it increased competition. Building lounges that are unique, and that embody the San Francisco we and our families grew up in helps to differentiate our dispensary from all others.”
Shockingly affordable prices also
differentiate Moe Greens from the pack. House grams are available for
just $8, a price not seen in the city in years.
Smoking lounges might look like they’re
only for big spenders, but they’re not. The steampunk-inspired lounge at
Urban Pharm, one of the few that allow vaping and smoking indoors,
sells individual dabs for as low as $5 — and Dollar Dabs for just a buck
during Friday happy hour.
Whether a lounge allows you to just vape,
or to dab, or to smoke raw flower is up to the dispensary itself. Most
only allow vaping, but provide Volcano vaporizers and clear plastic huff
bags free of charge. Others provide loaner bongs and dab rigs, but none
of them allow alcohol or tobacco.
The license to smoke pot legally indoors is not granted by the San Francisco Office of Cannabis,
which generally handles marijuana permit approvals. The license to
smoke — technically, a “Cannabis Consumption Permit” — is actually
awarded by the San Francisco Department of Public Health (DPH).
Yep, the Department of Health gives permission to smoke weed.
“The health department has taken a harm reduction approach to cannabis consumption,” DPH spokesperson Veronica Vien tells SF Evergreen. “Rules
and regulations allow consumption to occur, but limit youth exposure
and underage access,” and “mitigate overexposure to indoor smoke through
enhanced engineering controls.”
The department’s cannabis consumption
laws describe these engineering controls as “a ventilation system
capable of removing all detectable odors, smoke, and byproducts of
Lounge owners say these ventilation requirements are actually among the easier regulations to comply with.
“These hurdles are minimal for existing
dispensaries,” according to SPARC CEO and chairman Erich Pearson. “The
process with DPH has been smooth.”
SPARC’s lounge is one of those Volcano
vape-only facilities, but customers are allowed to light up and smoke
flower on Fridays and Saturdays, beginning at 4:20 p.m.
Right around the block from SPARC, the
Vapor Room has the most noticeable pot smoking lounge in town. That’s
because it’s right smack dab in their giant front window, for every
passerby to see.
“Our lounge is integrated into our retail experience and is prominently displayed by our front window,” says Vapor Room owner Martin Olive. “We believe this helps remove the unnecessary stigma of feeling like one ought to hide their cannabis use in dark corners.”
Most San Francisco cannabis lounges are concentrated on a four-block strip in SoMa. But two of them are outliers — literally.
Way out in the Richmond and deep in the
Mission, the Harvest dispensaries provide conference room-style lounges
with giant TVs. Both act as co-working spaces, cannabis farmers markets
and event venues, or host infuse dinner meetups like Dim Sum and Dabs or
Fried Chicken and Dabs.
“Our lounges provide a cannabis-friendly
workplace, a utopian gathering place, a remarkable educational facility
or the most beautiful space to consume,” says Harvest guest services
manager Tom Powers.
Sure, it’s all fun and dabs at these
stylish and hip cannabis lounges that cater to convention-hoppers and
the new SoMa tech set. But for many San Franciscans, the lounges really
do provide a crucial public resource.
“Elderly, disabled, and ill folks can and
do experience isolation from medicating with cannabis alone in their
homes,” the Vapor Room’s Olive points out. “Everyone else may be forced
to use cannabis in parks, on the street, or in their car when
medicating, all of which can expose them to unnecessary and illegal
SPARC’s Pearson adds, “The lounges are
critical for the many medical cannabis patients that live in
government-subsidized housing that does not allow cannabis consumption.”
San Francisco will not remain home to the
nation’s largest number of cannabis lounges for much longer. West
Hollywood just awarded 16 consumption lounge permits for onsite smoking
or edibles. These permits are contingent on the businesses getting fully
licensed, but WeHo is well-positioned to surpass our cannabis lounge
Las Vegas will be getting them soon too,
possibly this year. But San Francisco’s lounges served as the basis for
Las Vegas’ framework. Expect other cities to continue following our lead
as legal cannabis spreads across the U.S.
Our cannabis lounges really are a wonderful airport bar-type social space where you find yourself mingling with tourists, veterans, SSI recipients, or CEOs. And San Francisco has set the trailblazing standard that dispensaries across the world will look to when they want to fire up.
Moe Greens, 1276 Market St., 415-762-4255 or moegreens.com