Before COVID came along and changed just about everything, there was talk of cannabis “consumption lounges” – dispensary-connected rooms where customers can try products in a relaxed atmosphere – opening on the Central Coast. COVID hasn’t gone away. Neither has the talk. Now talk has turned to action.

This Spring, the Grover Beach City Council will decide whether to pass an ordinance to allow smoke lounges at city-permitted dispensaries. If the ordinance passes, Grover Beach would become the first city in San Luis Obispo County to allow lounges. The City Council directed staff to pursue such an ordinance in January.

Grover Beach currently has three permitted cannabis dispensaries: 805 Beach Breaks, Natural Healing Center and Urbn Leaf. A fourth dispensary, Jushi, is under construction. Dispensaries will have to apply for an additional permit for the lounges.

Said Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee in a press statement, “Allowing our retailers to expand their business operations will continue to help strengthen our local economy, further transform our commercial spaces, and create new jobs and tax revenue for the Grover Beach community.”

Consumption lounges have recently opened across the U.S. Nevada and Illinois legalized cannabis consumption lounges in 2021. California locations include the Original Cannabis Cafe in West Hollywood and Moe Greens in San Francisco, as well as lounges in Lompoc in Santa Barbara County, Coalinga in Fresno County and Lemoore in Kings County.

According to the city of Grover Beach, tax revenues from the lounges will help support city initiatives and projects. The cannabis industry has added more than 200 jobs to the local economy and generated more than $2 million in cannabis tax revenues in the last fiscal year.

Grover Beach dispensaries may operate indoor or outdoor lounges but must meet certain conditions set by the city, including: No alcoholic beverages or tobacco products can be sold on site; lounges cannot be visible from public areas; ventilation systems must prevent odors from being detected from adjacent properties and public right-of-ways; and lounge employees must be trained to recognize impaired customers and help prevent over-serving them.