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WeHo Wants To Be A Weed Hub For Tourists — But Not Like Amsterdam

A man wearing an orange beanie sitting across a table from another man smokes a marijuana cigarette at The Original Cannabis Cafe in West Hollywood. Other patrons are seen in the background at the restaurant that allows patrons to partake of cannabis on the premises.
The open patio at the Original Cannabis Cafe creates a comfortable space for patrons to smoke while eating.
(Chava Sanchez/LAist)
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West Hollywood was the first American city to have a cannabis cafe. Now, it aims to be the country's first cannabis destination for tourists. The number of dispensaries will grow but the city is hoping the real draw will be in consumption lounges, businesses where customers can consume cannabis on site.

In 2019, the Original Cannabis Cafe was the first to offer a restaurant menu, along with a selection of marijuana products. Closed since the COVID-19 pandemic, it's scheduled to reopen in the coming months. In the next couple of years, more than a dozen other cannabis lounges are set to open in the neighborhood.

John Leonard oversees West Hollywood's cannabis policies. He says they've received applications for various types of lounges, including one with a bowling alley and one inside a spa.

"It's not just going to be this cookie cutter row of six cannabis lounges on a single block and they all look the same. They're spread out throughout the city and they're going to offer a variety of experiences," Leonard says.

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Scott Schmidt is the executive director of Emerald Village, West Hollywood, a group of business owners teaming up to grow the city's cannabis profile. He says they want to attract both pot tourists and locals. "We really don't want to be Amsterdam but we don't want to be Beverly Hills either," Schmidt says.

West Hollywood city estimates the new businesses will bring in five to six million dollars in cannabis tax revenue.

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