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Cannabis Special Events Could Come to West Hollywood, California

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According to West Hollywood, California local news blog Wehoville.com, the West Hollywood City Council—which has green-lighted more than a dozen new or expanded cannabis facilities to open over the next two years in the city—is also considering the idea of allowing cannabis special events. 

The council, which held its first post-pandemic in-person meeting on Monday, April 4, had an agenda item scheduled for an update on the city’s cannabis ordinance implementation, including the topic of cannabis special events. Special Events Permits are typically granted by the city to short-term events in other industries, which could include festivals and similar events that don’t fall under normal zoning restrictions.

City staffers had been tasked with gathering information for a report on how local cannabis events might be organized. Topics to be addressed included whether product sales and consumption would be allowed at events; if entities from outside West Hollywood would be allowed to put on cannabis events or should event permits be limited to local, licensed cannabis businesses; determining locations where events could be held and methods for mitigation of smoke/odor; and whether a cannabis event could be allowed on public property. 

During the public comment period at Monday’s meeting, cannabis tourism board leader and Emerald Village President Jason Beck spoke to city council members and encouraged the city to work “closely” with the marketing organization and its members “to ensure we get this right.” 

Beck said the city should “start low and go slow for major events” for the next two years, at which point the impacts of cannabis events on the community might be reassessed. He pointed out that by allowing outside entities to host cannabis events in West Hollywood, local vendors would be left to deal with consequences, if “something goes wrong.”

Beck added that Emerald Village would like to work with the city to provide “safe consumption spaces” at already-established events like WeHo Pride weekend and the massive annual Halloween Carnival, which prior to the pandemic drew crowds numbering in the hundreds of thousands. He said that event goers were likely to indulge in cannabis and that providing safe spaces for cannabis use would serve to benefit organizers and attendees. 

The meeting agenda was eclipsed by a somewhat contentious six hour-long discussion with representatives of the city’s Public Safety Commission on nightlife safety in West Hollywood’s LGBTQ+ district and other popular local destinations, so that cannabis policy items were not able to be discussed. Local business owners, residents and policymakers at the meeting have been at odds over a pending decision by the city council on whether to defund the Los Angeles County Sheriff, eliminate several local deputies, and put funds toward mental help outreach teams and alternative community policing efforts.

A world-famous tourism destination with legendary nightlife and special events, West Hollywood was the first city in Los Angeles County to allow medical and recreational cannabis sales. Despite cannabis retail business expansion being slowed by the state’s bureaucratic morass, unlicensed retail competitors, and delays due to the pandemic, the city has long aspired to become a world-class cannabis destination—the “Amsterdam of the West.” 

Now, as consumers and businesses across the U.S. emerge from years-long pandemic restrictions, domestic tourism stands to see a spike as travelers ease back into pre-pandemic activities. Many hospitality and tourism-based businesses all over the world will be banking on a big summer. Whether cannabis vendors in West Hollywood will be prepared to take advantage of increased tourist activity remains to be seen.  

The Artist Tree, at its already-open Santa Monica Boulevard dispensary location, has expanded with the addition of a second-floor area for onsite consumption that features an outdoor patio overlooking the street. 

Aeon Botanika, also located on Santa Monica Boulevard, is slated to open this summer, and promises a host of cannabis-infused products and services. Cannabis-curious consumers can indulge in holistic proprietary cannabis and herbal remedies, a tea and social lounge and full-service wellness studio, as well as “plant forward” cuisine from their kitchen. The facility will be staffed with practitioners in “bodywork, acupuncture, nutrition therapy, and integrative physician services.”

Then, there’s celebrity buzz around Monica’s House, scheduled to open early this summer with actor Woody Harrelson and TV pundit Bill Maher listed as investors. The business has obtained two licenses to operate a cannabis consumption facility and delivery service. Also located on Santa Monica Boulevard, the facility is currently being remodeled into what reportedly will be a luxe lounge space.

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