These Are Six Of America's Most Innovative Marijuana-Themed Businesses
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Recreational marijuana use is now legal in eight states and Washington, DC, but even in those places pot smokers can have a hard time finding a legal, enjoyable place to light up (or munch an edible).
Denver became the first city in the U.S. to allow marijuana in bars and restaurants when voters approved Proposition 300 in November, but pot's continued classification as a Schedule 1 drug on the federal level still scares many businesses away from making any serious investment. Despite that, businesses from Colorado to California have stepped up to cater to marijuana enthusiasts.
From private lounges to outdoor dining events, here are six of the most innovative cannabis-friendly businesses in the country.
Location: San Francisco
Business Type: Lounge
Regarded as one of the most exclusive weed lounges on the West Coast that doubles as a "cannabis clinic," Harvest is a place for members to consume cannabis socially. Harvest says its membership screening process aims to attract an eclectic mix of people who reflect San Francisco's style, and examines everything from social networks to applicant backgrounds. Members pay a monthly fee to enjoy some of the best marijuana the lounge has to offer within a luxurious setting.
2. Planet Bluegrass
Location: Lyons, Colorado
Business Type: Outdoor Concert Venue
While not a dedicated marijuana establishment, Planet Bluegrass, a 20-acre outdoor concert venue, hosted one of the first gourmet marijuana dining events in Colorado. For $200 a plate, around 100 diners enjoyed an extravagant three-course meal with each course paired to a specific strain of marijuana. Guests bought the marijuana in a special "goodie bag" at a local dispensary just before the meal to ensure the event was legal. The event planners believe pairing weed with meals will become more popular and refined, and said eventually different strains will be examined the way connoisseurs approach wine.
3. High There! Hopper
Business Type: Party Bus (aka Real Estate On Wheels)
The High There! Hopper is what you get when you mix Uber, Tinder and a weed lounge. Guests can smoke their own marijuana on this party bus, which ferries them around Denver free of charge. All they have to do is download the HighThere! app, which gives smokers a place to meet, indulge and avoid driving high all at the same time. The bus drives around Denver during nights and weekends and makes stops at dispensaries, dining districts, the Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the local ballpark.
4. Herbal Chef
Location: Los Angeles
Business Type: Outdoor Venue
Chef Chris Sayegh and Mary Magazine sponsored this cannabis fine dining pop-up dinner in a Hollywood parking lot to showcase what a marijuana restaurant could look like. This is one of many pop-up Herbal Chef events Sayegh has hosted around Los Angeles since 2013. The chef charges between $200 and $500 per person for a night of marijuana-themed cooking. With numerous legal constraints challenging the creation of brick-and-mortar marijuana restaurants, these outdoor private events are the best LA can offer.
5. Speakeasy Vape Lounge
Location: Colorado Springs
Business Type: Lounge
This cannabis lounge frequently hosts live entertainment, including everything from local bands to drama recitations. On top of providing a place to smoke and different variations of the substance, Speakeasy Vape Lounge was the first cannabis lounge in Colorado to offer a full menu. It serves American food, including burgers and chicken wings, in addition to offering all-day breakfast. The lounge also boasts a production studio where up-and-coming bands can record for $25/hour.
6. World Famous Cannabis Café
Business Type: Café
Though no longer open, this was the first café in the U.S. that welcomed medical marijuana cardholders to come drink, eat and be merry. Oregon's World Famous Cannabis Café opened in 2009 to anyone 21 and older, provided they paid the $10 cover fee. The café served food and coffee and gave customers a place to hang out and smoke their own marijuana, but it was forced to close last March after public health officials said the establishment violated Oregon's clean air laws. The rise and fall of this establishment is further proof that marijuana legalization is but a small step in navigating the challenges of this industry.