The issue with legalization in California—and many other adult-use states—is that there aren’t many places to legally consume cannabis in public. Many argue this is what makes “legalization” a scam: how is weed legal if you can only consume it in your home without consequence? One Southern California desert community is providing a solution to this problem. Cathedral City Lounge, located in the Coachella Valley, made history opening the region’s first licensed on-site consumption bar on Wednesday, October 31.
“This is a whole new feeling for people to be able to consume in public without anyone making comments or having to worry about getting arrested,” Nick Hughes, the owner of Cathedral City Lounge, told High Times in an interview. “Comfort is everything.”
Hughes is also the owner of Cathedral City Care Collective, a dispensary the consumption lounge is connected to. He explains the lounge fills a void by providing a place for people to hang out, try new products, and have a safe place to sober-up after imbibing in various forms of greenery.
Cathedral City Lounge is equipped with a pool table, couches, private rooms, music, and a number of entertainment options. Customers can rent pipes, bongs, dab rigs, and other smoking devises. Hughes describes Cathedral City Lounge as a bar with stricter rules. The rules, he notes, are not implemented to hinder the experience. Rather, they’re in place to ensure the safety of customers and staff.
The city granted on-site consumption licenses to a few other businesses in the area. But the city wasn’t totally sure how to organize around onsite consumption lounges, in terms of restrictions and understanding the potential consequences. Thus, Hughes and his team crafted an outline of what they felt were the important things to look for: how to tell if someone’s had too much THC, when to call someone a Lyft, and how to determine if someone needs medical attention. Working with the city in this capacity put Hughes and his team at the forefront of the city’s expectations, allowing Cathedral City Lounge to ultimately open first.
“We created a plan of what we will have available for people if they take too much,” he says. “We’ll have water to keep people hydrated and cookies and snacks in case they get shaky or look green in the gills. We also look for people who are starting to get drowsy.”
Hughes points out that sometimes too much cannabis can cause people to have heart palpitations. This can lead to heavy anxiety, which can eventually put someone in the hospital. Because of this, the lounge has systems in place that track what everyone’s purchased (and how much).
All of the staff is CPR trained, Hughes explains, so if anyone is in danger, the lounge’s staff can step in and help until emergency professionals arrive at the scene. The lounge also has corporate Lyft and Uber accounts in case customers need a ride home but can’t drive.
Another reason Cathedral City Lounge opened before other, similar businesses is because the dispensary was originally built to accommodate a consumption lounge. Thus, no retrofitting was required.
The lounge is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s available for parties and private events, and will also function as a place of education for people to learn everything from how to make cannabutter, to proper dosing, to dabbing 101.
“We want this to be a place where the community can gather,” Hughes says. “It’s a venue that can hold bachelorette, bachelor and birthday parties. People can expect educational events, too, and movie nights with medicated popcorn. This is the future, and we’re excited to be at the forefront of it”