One of the worst things happening during this wave of cannabis reform across America is the poor being left on the beach without a mechanism to legally smoke a little weed.
The biggest factors contributing to this are bans on consumption besides anywhere but a private residence. Furthermore, sometimes you can’t consume in a multi-unit building even if you owned the whole thing and required incoming tenants to be cool with it; in certain municipalities they could still screw.
A bit over 65% of Americans own a home, so from a certain school of thought, one could certainly argue that that data means cannabis is only legal for 65% of Americans.
How did we get here? Shitty policymaking of course.
I put the lack of legal consumption right up there with the other biggest problems the cannabis market has faced post-legalization. Others include how screwed-up equity programs seem to be in every state, leading to the programs being scapegoated and not the people who screwed them up. Another mega factor? Permit stacking in California. This is what created Mega Farms five years early. One of the main guys that lobbied for that crashed and burned out of the industry because he sucked at growing weed. So in the end, literally everyone lost, even the greedy fucker.
So that’s the scale of the problem for me, I put it up there with the worst cannabis has to offer.
The most immediate remedy to provide legal access to consumption is lounges. Any legalization plan moving forward that doesn’t accommodate some type of social use cannabis businesses where you can puff with your friends is garbage. Add to how much more difficult it’s getting for the middle-class and lower-income communities in recreational states to own a home, and one might say cannabis is getting less and less legal depending on your income bracket.
The obvious argument against my disdain is people just smoke in their yard or go somewhere and figure it out if it’s not cool at home. But 99% of the time they aren’t supposed to smoke wherever they end up. I think the general argument is that in a society where cannabis is legal, there should be at least some way or mechanism for people to consume it. And we aren’t talking about woofing down some distillate gummies.
Fake lounges are also now a problem. If you can’t burn one down it’s not a lounge. I’ve recently seen a wave of vapor-only lounges opening up. And we’re not even talking quartz, I mean “let’s sit in chairs and hit vape pens” kind of shit. Or maybe you want to have a 10mg edible and sit on this couch while you wait for it to kick in. I’m offended just explaining the situation.
One of the things adding salt to the wound? How social an experience cannabis can be when the situation is curated properly. There are few places pulling it off In America, shoutouts to West Hollywood, for real consistent social experiences more akin to a bar with weed than a sesh.
Europe has been doing this great, even Bangkok is pulling it off well. It makes it that much crazier that even in the birthplace of cannabis reform in California, the lounge scene is garbage. It provides no support to the communities that actually need it and the lounges we have seen tend to be in higher income communities where they are serving less need than they would in places you can’t even puff.
In the end, the thing that will probably change the game is regulators realizing the dollars lost to underground cannabis things that let you socialize.
Even when they do start to give people a little room though, regulators tug the chain back. This is the case in Sacramento right now. The city’s flagship legal social use space is dealing with new pressure from the city. One of the better facilities the state has seen for this format in some time and they were playing by the rules. If people like that can’t make lounges a reality, how are lower-income people ever supposed to smoke together legally?
Only adding to the madness of the lack of places we can smoke weed together are the over 13,000 Americans that die every year in car crashes that involve alcohol. When you get too stoned you’re too lazy to drive until you’re not too stoned anymore. There is no real logic that justifies a bunch of people getting shitfaced and driving home and treats cannabis like some kind of plague on the roads. The most dangerous part of having weed in your system or vehicle is getting caught with it in a lot of places.
So just remember, anyone who is trying to prevent lounges is trying to prevent legal consumption for the poor.