Before January 1, 2018, recreational cannabis consumption was only reserved for Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, Washington State, and Nevada. In California, medical cannabis was restricted to dispensaries where a “recommendation,” or prescription was required. California voters overwhelmingly approved legal recreational use, and the law went into effect on New Year’s Day.
The first day of the year saw massive lines at weed dispensaries, with Angelenos waiting in lines to buy cannabis products legally for the first time. Even though the law was passed in 2016, regulations for both restaurants and consumption are still being ironed out in the state, city, and county levels.
Buying weed is easier than ever, but there are more places to consume cannabis products than pot shops. To assist in locating cannabis-infused foods and drinks, here is Eater’s guide of weed-friendly restaurants, popups, and bars in Los Angeles.
The rules are still a bit fuzzy, or just aren’t in place throughout LA. For consumers, the only requirement is to be 21 years old with an ID. As for businesses, the state developed emergency cannabis regulations in late November, which left most in limbo on how to stay within the law. In LA County, January 3 marked the first day for businesses to apply for cannabis licenses, with a three-week waiting period before a temporary license is approved.
Because of the last minute activity, many businesses are in wait-and-see mode at the moment, while others moved forward. In November, West Hollywood’s City Councilapproved an ordinance that authorizes a number of licenses, including eight licenses for cannabis smoking lounges that will be attached to cannabis stores. Along with the eight licenses for smoking lounges attached to cannabis stores, customers can try pot candies, brownies, and other cannabis-infused foods. Right now Eater has not been able to locate all these stores as licenses are still pending. There are a number of places to bring one’s own stash and light up, including the Hitman Coffee Shop, and the Alchemy Lounge.
As its own municipality, West Hollywood has a running start on other cities, which are given discretion by law on whether to allow businesses to sell cannabis products. And many municipalities are choosing not to allow the sale of cannabis.
The difference between THC and CBD
The majority of restaurants and bars that serve marijuana products at the moment use cannabidiol, also known as CBD. CBD is is a cannabis compound that allegedly has medical benefits, but without the psychoactive or high-inducing components of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol. At the below list of bars and restaurants, just ask for a supplemental CBD shot in a drink or dish, which can take 20 minutes or more to absorb into the body.
THC products are still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government, lumping it in the same category as heroin, MDMA, and LSD. There is a workaround with CBD products, which have been classified as a supplement because it does not alter the state of mind. There is a distinction on whether the CBD product is hemp-derived. If the CBD does not come from hemp, it is illegal according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Proper dosing is key. Responsible chefs know exactly how much THC and CBD are necessary to make sure the experience is an enjoyable and memorable one. No one wants a messy group of people stumbling into their Lyft.
Where to find THC meals and drinks
Popups: Private weed dinners remain a steady part of LA cannabis culture. A bit of secrecy surrounds these meals, with the location often revealed the day of the event. Some businesses actually screen attendees. Prices start at $100 per person, and can run as high as $500 for a multiple course dinner.
At Popcultivate, chemist turned chef Chris Yang, carefully applies CBD and THC extractions to food and drinks, including his “Capri Sun,” a thyme and CBD-laced green tea. Yang’s next event is in the Arts District on January 20, 2018. Last year, Luke Reyes launched La Hoja which means “the leaf,” and serves low-dose, marijuana-infused food and drinks. Founded by Marc Leibel, Cannabis Supper Club is also a newcomer to LA.
Andrea Drummer is no newbie to the marijuana food scene, serving private marijuana events since 2012, through her business Elevation VIP Coop. Drummer is pictured making a THC-infused cocktail with chocolate, coconut cream, chocolate stout, whiskey, caramel, and nutmeg.
Restaurants and Bars: West Hollywood’s Gracias Madre has been serving CBD since 2016. Former bartender Jason Eisner created the CBD-laced stoney negroni, rolled fashioned, and vegan sour with no egg whites to match the entirely vegan food menu.
The fashion-themed Pattern Bar has been serving CBD cocktails since 2016. They created the Armani, with New Amsterdam gin, CBD oil, muddled lime, orange, mint, elderflower liqueur, sparkling wine, and a glowing green ice cube. Drinkers can add CBD to any drink for $5 dollars.
Santa Monica’s healthy restaurant Bondi Harvest adds hemp protein to their foods, and can add CBD oil to any of their coffees, tea drinks, and smoothies upon request.
With three locations in Venice, Silver Lake, and Melrose Place, Moon Juice staff will add CBD to any drink for $3.50. They serve the popular CBD product, Charlotte’s Web, which is also sold onsite.
Hotels: Not yet. The Standard Hotel in West Hollywood is planning to open an upscale pot shop, complete with edibles and other cannabis products. Those whispering around the project, say there will be CBD cocktails in the main bar, as well as a separate THC lounge, as state law prohibits the consumption of cannabis in the same venue as alcohol. If The Standard labels the weed bar the “High Bar,” the neighboring Sky Bar at the Mondrian might have something to say about it.
- Watch: Mix Up Cocktails with a Little Marijuana at LA’s Gracias Madre [ELA]
- Weed shops, lounges, delivery services can apply for licenses in WeHo starting in January[Curbed LA]