Cannabis Facility Construction Completes Construction of New Flagship Dispensary for Greenhouse Cannabis

NORTHBROOK, IL (OCTOBER 5, 2020) – Cannabis Facility Construction (CFC), a national, full-service, cannabis design-build construction firm based in Northbrook, IL, has just completed construction of a new recreational and medical cannabis dispensary for Greenhouse. The new flagship dispensary, located at 755 Skokie Boulevard in Northbrook, IL, opened to the public on September 29 and offers 9,982 square feet of finished space.

“It’s been an honor working with Greenhouse on this new flagship dispensary offering an enjoyable, high-quality customer experience,” said Andy Poticha, Principal at Cannabis Facility Construction. “As their design-build partner, our team has delivered dispensaries for Greenhouse across multiple states over the past six years and we are tremendously excited to deliver yet another, this time right in our own backyard.”

Construction commenced in May, revitalizing the site and the surrounding area that had been vacant for quite some time.

The location’s sleek, modern, industrial design represents a new look for the Greenhouse brand and features an open floor plan with high vaulted ceilings, skylights, abundant natural light. The point of sale stations, consultation areas and easy-to-browse product displays provide ease and comfort for social distancing and complement the wood and masonry structure.

In order to create a differentiated and welcoming customer experience, careful consideration has been given to both customer traffic flow, and the reality of social distancing with all points of sale six feet apart, so transactions take place with proper space between people at the counter. In addition to the retail space up front, the location also includes back office space, a secure, oversized vault for substantial inventory storage and a highly advanced security system.

CFC’s work complements exterior infrastructure improvements that happened simultaneously, revitalizing the surrounding area with natural landscaping, a retention pond, large parking lot, and new turn lane from Skokie Boulevard.

A leader in serving the construction needs of the cannabis industry since 2015, Cannabis Facility Construction has built more than 30 cultivation centers, processing laboratories and retail dispensaries customized for the needs of medical and recreational cannabis clients in 10 states.

For more information on CFC or to connect with principals Andy Poticha, Ira Singer, and Mike Frazin, please visit www.cannabisfacility.net.

Cannabis Facility Construction Starts Construction on New Mission Dispensaries Location in Calumet City, IL

Latest Project Represents Multiple Projects with 4Front Ventures in IL, MI and MA

CHICAGO, IL (SEPTEMBER 23, 2020)Cannabis Facility Construction (CFC), a national, full-service, cannabis design-build construction firm based in Northbrook, IL, is excited to announce the start of construction on a new Mission Dispensaries recreational and medical dispensary for 4Front Ventures Corp. in Calumet City, IL.

“As their preferred design-build partner, Cannabis Facility Construction has delivered multiple dispensaries for 4Front Ventures in Ann Arbor, MI, Georgetown, MA, and on Chicago’s South Side,” said Andy Poticha, Principal at Cannabis Facility Construction. “We value our continued relationship and are excited to revitalize this new building and create a beautiful space with great street presence in Calumet City.”

Construction on the new dispensary, located at 1330 Torrence Avenue, across from River Oaks Center in Calumet City, commenced in early September and is expected to be complete by mid-December.

This new location for the brand offers plenty of parking and approximately 3,000 square feet of finished retail space, back office space for processing, a secure, oversized vault for substantial inventory storage, and a highly advanced security system.

According to Robert Spence, Director of Facilities at Mission Dispensaries, “Cannabis Facility Construction has been an incredibly collaborative partner during the construction process, working seamlessly with our team on the design and zoning process on this and multiple projects across the country.”

A leader in serving the construction needs of the cannabis industry since 2015, Cannabis Facility Construction has built more than 30 cultivation centers, processing laboratories and retail dispensaries customized for the needs of medical and recreational cannabis clients in ten different states.

For more information on CFC or to connect with principals Andy Poticha, Ira Singer, and Mike Frazin, please visit www.cannabisfacility.net.

Building Your New Dispensary: Avoiding Common Design-Build Mistakes as a New Licensee

So you’re planning a new cannabis dispensary – congratulations! Whether this dispensary is your entrepreneurial dream come true or you’ve been down this road before, once you confirm your license, you’ll want to begin building out your location as quickly as possible. Our teams, currently building dispensaries across Illinois and other States, can help steer you through the unique maze that is the cannabis construction process.

Building a new dispensary is not as simple as it sounds. Dispensaries must offer the security of a bank branch, the compliance of a pharmaceutical company, and the aesthetic of a high-end retailer.

As experts in the design-build construction of cannabis facilities, our teams have been in the trenches building dispensaries, cultivation centers and processing labs since 2015, including a national flagship dispensary in Northbrook, currently under construction. We have been involved in more than 30 dispensary, cultivation center and processing lab projects in nine states since 2015. Currently, we are leading renovation projects that offer more than 35,000 new square feet of cannabis cultivation and dispensaries customized for the needs of both medical and recreational cannabis customers.

Here are a few ways you can jump ahead of the curve:

Differentiate the customer experience. Buying cannabis in a regulated dispensary should feel easy, welcoming and natural. Designing for the customer experience, creating welcoming sales environments, while remaining compliant with regulations, is where dispensaries differentiate themselves from the competition. One reason this is so important: with strict supply chain rules in place, many cannabis products are highly commoditized. If your product is a commodity, the customer experience becomes even more important.

Prioritize compliance or suffer the consequences. To maintain product supply and operational retail sales, stick to strict protocols and carefully follow building codes related to the handling, storage and distribution of cannabis throughout the supply chain. In Illinois, building code inspections are unique to each municipality, with enormous differences from one community to another. Be sure your design-build construction partner knows the right questions to ask, and the pitfalls that could come up at each inspection milestone.

Use a design-build approach. Design-build integrates your design and construction teams from the beginning, reducing surprises and streamlining your budget throughout the process of envisioning and construction your dispensary. When your architect and contractor are working together, you’ll find you have more time to focus on running your cannabis business, with less time spent in meetings about your space. In addition, a design-build model allows for a single point of accountability. At CFC, we use our four-step design-build process to ensure alignment and high-touch customer service throughout your project.

Your contractor shouldn’t be learning on the job. Your design-build construction partner should be respected in the industry and be able to speak to ‘tales from the trenches.’ While legalized recreational cannabis may be new to Illinois, there are companies like us that have been building for both medical and recreational cannabis for many years. You should never have to hear ‘let’s learn this together.’

Don’t let the pandemic get you down. As an essential business, construction has been building cannabis facilities throughout the COVID-19 shut-down period and continues today. With the right protocols in place, there’s no reason the construction of your dispensary can’t press forward. To understand more about how our crews stay safe, you can read our National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) blog post from June 2020 on how to expand or renovate your cannabis facility while observing social distancing.

Choose a contractor with experience. For nearly five years, CFC has worked with numerous cannabis companies, including vertically integrated multi-state operators (MSOs). “Partnering with CFC, we have been thoughtful about connecting the design/build process with our customer experience and compliance objectives,” said Mitch Kahn of Greenhouse Cannabis. “Together, we identified and solved potential issues early in the design/build process, so that the build-out is supportive of sales, security, and being good neighbors in our communities.”

Need more resources on the design-build dispensary construction process? Here are a few suggestions:

NCIA PODCAST:

https://thecannabisindustry.org/podcasts/cannabis-facility-design-and-construction/

KNOW BEFORE YOU GROW:

https://rejournals.com/know-before-you-grow-secrets-of-successful-cannabis-facilities/

KEY SUCCESS FACTORS:

https://www.areadevelopment.com/construction-project-planning/Q1-2020/key-success-factors-for-building-cannabis-processing-center.shtml

While cannabis continues to be a fast-paced industry with changes on a daily and weekly basis, it’s no longer brand-new. There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a guide who knows the right questions to ask and can keep you from repeating mistakes of the past.

For more information on working with our Cannabis Facility Construction experienced teams, you can request a consultation here and one of our team members will get back to you immediately.

Construction On Cannabis Dispensary Begins

Greenhouse Northbrook Rendering

Northbrook Patch | Jun 17, 2020 – Construction is underway on a new recreational and medical dispensary at 755 Skokie Blvd. in Northbrook. Cannabis Facility Construction, a national, full-service, cannabis design-build construction firm based in Northbrook, announced the news Tuesday. The facility will be run by Greenhouse Group LLC.

The Northbrook location will be a national flagship location for the brand, according to a press release. The site, offering nearly 10,000-square-feet of finished space, is the former home the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The vacant Marathon Gas station at 430 Dundee Road will be consolidated into one lot.

“As their preferred design-build partner, CFC has delivered multiple dispensaries for Greenhouse over the past five years in various states across the country,” said Andy Poticha, principal at Cannabis Facility Construction, in the release. “We are now especially excited to have this opportunity to build their largest flagship location right here in our own backyard.”

Read more at Northbrook Patch

In 2020, Cannabis Construction Must Offer Security of a Bank, Compliance of a Pharmaceutical Company, Aesthetic of a High-end Retailer

Legal recreational cannabis is a new industry in Illinois—and it’s in dire need of customized facilities. The first month of recreational cannabis sales in Illinois amounted to nearly $40 million. Sales figures spell opportunity both for cannabis companies and for experts in building special-purpose facilities for the industry’s stringent regulations and experience-driven customers.

Andy Poticha, Principal at Cannabis Facility Construction (CFC) has been involved in more than 30 cultivation, processing center and dispensary projects in eight states since 2015. He’s leading renovation projects that offer Illinois more than 35,000 new square feet of cannabis cultivation areas and dispensaries customized for the needs of recreational cannabis customers.

“To become recreational cannabis users’ preferred dispensary, new cannabis license holders must prioritize both compliance and customers in their facility design,” Poticha observes. The design/build process must support two core objectives:

  • Prioritize compliance or suffer the consequences. To maintain product supply and operational retail sales, stick to strict protocols and carefully follow building codes related to the handling, storage and distribution of cannabis throughout the supply chain.
  • Offer a differentiated customer experience. Product commoditization and restricted in-state cannabis sourcing leads to stiff competition between dispensaries.

“Cannabis companies need to offer the security of a bank branch, the compliance of a pharmaceutical company, and the aesthetic of a high-end retailer,” said Poticha. “Designing for the customer experience, creating welcoming sales environments that are compliant with regulations, is where dispensaries can find true opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition.”

For nearly five years, CFC has worked with numerous cannabis companies, including Grassroots Cannabis, a vertically integrated multi-state cannabis company. For co-founder Mitch Kahn, CFC has helped Grassroots embrace these seemingly competing objectives into a cohesive customer experience.

“Partnering with CFC, we have been thoughtful about connecting the design/build process with our customer experience and compliance objectives,” said Kahn. “Together, we identified and solved potential issues early in the design/build process, so that the build-out is supportive of sales, security, and being good neighbors in our communities.”

 

The Rise of Hemp: The Federally Legal Industry is Booming

The hemp-derived CBD industry is expected to reach $16 billion nationwide by 2025. The ground-breaking Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 or Farm Bill removed low-THC cannabis and its derivatives from the Controlled Substances Act, opening the door for FDA-regulated products like CBD pharmaceuticals, food items, additives, and dietary supplements. Already, major retailers like CVS and Kroger are selling CBD products. Granted CBD products, including CBD-infused water, CBD-infused cosmetics and CBD-infused pet treats in the marketplace pre-dated the Farm Bill, those products can now be shipped across state lines and sold legally at the federal level. Here’s what you need to know about the rise of hemp in the U.S.

Hemp Vs. Marijuana

Hemp and marijuana look and smell nearly the same, but the similarities stop there. They derive from the same plant, cannabis sativa, but hemp contains less than .3% THC while marijuana has much higher levels. Hemp is now considered a federally legal agricultural product, and majijuana remains a DEA Schedule 1 drug, only legal in states with medical and adult use programs. In addition, hemp is regulated by the FDA and marijuana is not.


Hemp Facilities

Just like with marijuana, there are hemp cultivation facilities, processing centers, and retail businesses. The focus and capital investment has been on processing centers with businesses in Colorado City, Colorado and Janesville, Wisconsin leading the charge.

Colorado City has a population of under 3,000 but is home to Paragon Processing, the largest hemp-processing center in the United States. According to WestwordParagon will produce a variety of hemp extractions through isolation and distillation techniques, projecting to produce one million pounds of hemp monthly. Industrial hemp production has the complete buy-in from Governor Jared Polis. “Governor Polis’s administration has pushed for looser regulations on hemp farmers and businesses in order for this state to maintain its top spot in the hemp industry,” adds Westword. “During a recent speech at a hemp and CBD industry conference, Polis said that hemp farming was part of his rural economic initiative, and that he’d like to raise Colorado’s current 62,000 acres allotted for hemp farming by 20 percent.”

Wisconsin’s young market already has as big player in Simply Solutions, a maker of natural personal care products, getting into the hemp game. Simply Solutions will be the area’s first-to- market commercial-sale processing facility with another distinction: a method that extracts almost 100% CBD oil content.

Per GazetteXtra, “Simply Solutions claims their extraction process is a cleaner and more efficient way to extract more CBD from hemp…Methods other producers use extract only 60% to 70% of the CBD, they said.That’s important, considering that some strains of hemp grown for CBD can net $2,500 to $75,000 an acre, according to New Frontier Data, a cannabis industry analyst.”

Sourcing hemp from reputable farmers is crucial for CBD purity, as many companies are extracting CBD from hemp plants not bred for CBD.

Licensing and Regulations

The Farm Bill gives states the authority to submit plans for licensure and regulations. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, “A state plan must include certain requirements, such as keeping track of land, testing methods, and disposal of plants or products that exceed the allowed THC concentration…State policymakers have taken action to address various policy issues — the definition of hemp, licensure of growers, regulation and certification of seeds, state-wide commissions and legal protection of growers.”

Keeping Marijuana and Hemp Separated “Marijuana entrepreneurs who want to enter the federally legal CBD industry should consider starting a CBD business separate from the marijuana entity,” according to Marijuana Business Magazine. Though the Farm Bill has federally legalized the hemp industry, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 drug, and the main concern for businesses is extracting CBD that stays below .3% THC content. However, the same owner can have separate hemp and marijuana businesses.

The same article reported that Fairwinds, located in Washington state, faced a dilemma, desiring to enter the hemp space. The company’s products include tinctures, capsules, and topicals derived from a cannabis strain with CBD-dominant ratios, but with THC content above the limit. “The solution wasn’t simply removing THC from the products, because that would make them less effective. Rather, in anticipation of hemp legalization, Fairwinds CEO James Hull and his team spent more than a year finding new cannabinoids that could replace THC in formulations that would be federally legal while still an effective treatment.”

In the spirit and best practice of keeping the businesses separate, Hull ultimately created a new entity called Fairwinds CBD.

Less Oil Means More Plants

Another significant difference between hemp and marijuana is hemp’s lower oil content, which means that business owners must process more of the crop for an adequate CBD oil yield. Marijuana Business Magazine interviewed Craig Henderson, CEO of Extract Labs, a Boulder, Colorado-based extraction firm and CBD products manufacturer, who says hemp processing facilities will need larger extraction machines. “He [Henderson] estimated that a large marijuana company processes 100-300 pounds of cannabis per week, whereas large hemp companies process 2,000-10,000 pounds of the plant each week.”

In addition to larger equipment, business owners will need more employees and more space to handle the volume of product and extraction needs of hemp. “I think it’ll take people a couple months to figure out what they want to do and how they’re going to create businesses, and hopefully, maybe by June, we’ll see a huge spike in interest,” adds Henderson.

Proceed with Caution

The FDA remains the be all and end all governing body when it comes to regulating hemp. Hemp-derived CBD companies must be judicious about their product descriptions, especially information on potential health benefits. Moreover, the FDA has not given CBD as a food additive the designation of Generally Regarded as Safe.

What’s New for America’s Most Popular Cannabis States?

2019 has been the year of the cannabis plant in the United States. New states have joined the recreational cannabis club, young medical programs are exploding, mature ones are diversifying, and the Northeast is inching along. Here is the latest on the nation’s most popular cannabis states.

Colorado’s Cannabis Program Adds Versatility
Changes are coming to Colorado’s medical and recreational cannabis programs. House Bill 1230 will allow legal social consumption at businesses like dispensaries, restaurants, hotels, and music venues. Home-delivery of medical cannabis can begin in 2020, followed by recreational in 2021 thanks to the passage of House Bill 1234. In response to the state’s opioid epidemic, Governor Jared Polis signed the MMJ for Opioids Bill, which allows doctors to recommend medical cannabis as an alternative to opioid medications. The medical program also added autism to its list of qualifying conditions. Finally, House Bill 1090 opens Colorado’s cannabis industry to out-of-state investors and capital, including publicly held companies and large venture funds. Per Westword, “The bill would also permit investors to own smaller stakes (less than 10 percent) in a cannabis business.”

Illinois Hits a Snag
According to the Illinois Regulation and Tax Act, the state’s 55 existing medical dispensaries would have first dibs at applying for a recreational sales license at the same site, plus a second license for one at a different location. However, recently, The Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, the agency in charge of issuing those initial recreational-use licenses, announced a different interpretation: “…if a medical dispensary wishes to relocate for any reason — whether it’s for more space or if a home municipality bans recreational sales — it forfeits its right to also sell recreational marijuana,” per the Chicago Tribune.

This has created chaos for companies like Green Thumb Industries (GTI), which was awarded a retail license by the state in its Naperville location before the city council opted out of the program. “Naperville’s 6-3 vote on Tuesday, September 3 (2019) marks one of the first major roadblocks for Illinois’ marijuana industry as it prepares for recreational sales next year,” the Chicago Tribune added. “Whether GTI, or any other company, can open a store for recreational marijuana, could be reconsidered by the council after a potential non-binding voter referendum.”

Other municipalities in Chicagoland to ban recreational stores include Bolingbrook and Wheaton.

Oklahoma Medical Cannabis is Soaring

Previously, we wrote about the launch of Oklahoma’s medical program, and nothing is halting its trajectory toward a projected value of $250 million per year by 2025. 

As of August, 2019, there are 162,273 registered medical cardholders, a number that’s been growing by up to 10,000 per month for the last year. To put those numbers in perspective, that’s 4 percent of the state’s total population.

There’s a pretty easy explanation for this success: patients don’t have to meet qualifying conditions, and instead only need a referral from a physician. There are also no caps on dispensary licenses, which is why the current number is over 1,700. Additionally, the barrier to entry is low. According to the Arkansas Times, “The license to grow on a commercial scale or open a dispensary in Oklahoma is a flat $2,500 and a fare thee well, open to any Oklahoma resident who hasn’t had a felony in the past five years. Their law allows cardholders to possess up to a half pound of marijuana, and grow up to six plants at a time. Their law also made possession of up to 1.5 ounces by non-cardholders a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum $400 fine.”

Additionally, High Times Magazine put Oklahoma’s cannabis culture on the map when it held its renown Cannabis Cups in Oklahoma City in August.

Massachusetts Social Equity
As more recreational cannabis businesses come online in Massachusetts, the push for social equity is taking center stage. Real Action for Cannabis Equity (RACE) started in Boston in September, 2019 to address the dearth of minority-owned operators. Per Marijuana Business Daily, “Organizers say they’re frustrated that all but two of Massachusetts’ 184 marijuana business licenses were issued to white operators…black entrepreneurs in Massachusetts who say people of color are being shut out of the lucrative marijuana industry are joining forces to close the gap.”

New York Decriminalizes Cannabis
Though New York state failed to pass recreational cannabis during the 2019 legislative session, a last-minute compromise was reached on decriminalization. According to The New York Times,”Under the new law, possessing between one and two ounces of marijuana will no longer be considered a Class B misdemeanor. It will now be a violation, with fines up to $200. Those found with less than an ounce of marijuana will now face a $50 fine, compared with $150 previously.” In addition approximately 160,000 people will have cannabis convictions expunged from their records.


New Jersey Still has a Chance to Pass Recreational Cannabis

The Garden State saga to legalize recreational cannabis is back on. The state Legislature came up short on votes to pass a new law earlier in 2019, but the law-making body isn’t giving up, envisioning two scenarios:

  1. Holding another vote for the bill during the lame duck session at the end of 2019 or the first half of 2020
  2. Putting it on the ballot for the November, 2020 election

Governor Phil Murphy has voiced his preference of passing recreational cannabis through the Legislature versus relying on the ballot box. According to NJ.com, “Such a move would allow leaders to more easily mold and regulate the new marijuana industry. And waiting until next year’s elections means you likely won’t be able to consume weed legally in New Jersey until early 2021, at the earliest.”

Cannabis Extraction: What Exactly Does it Mean?

Cannabis extraction, sometimes referred to as processing, is one of the fastest growing sectors in the industry. In fact, over 50 percent of cannabis sales are concentrates and infused products created by extraction. To give you an idea, Illinois’ medical cannabis program in 2018 saw concentrates and infused products out-sell flower for the first time since its inception. Let’s take a closer look to better understand what extraction entails.


What is Cannabis Extraction?

Extraction refers to the conversion of target molecules in cannabis raw material into a usable form. The process removes the oil found in the trichomes from the cannabis plant and targets and collects the most potent compounds from the plants, including THC, CBD, and terpenes, among others.

Why is it Important?

For one, cannabis extraction creates versatility for products and methods of administration, providing many viable options for consumers. Cannabis extractions are also known as concentrates, and they are stronger than flower, presenting with higher cannabinoid and THC content. According to Maximum Yield, “Extraction is a common practice performed for a number of different reasons, ranging from increasing marijuana’s medical benefits to producing a more potent recreational product.”


What are the Methods of Extraction and Where does it Take Place?

The three most popular methods of extraction are CO2, hydrocarbon, and ethanol. CO2 extraction occurs when carbon dioxide is pressurized in metal tanks until it converts into a supercritical fluid. As MJBiz Daily describes it, “The fluid pulls out the desirable compounds from the flower. The fluid is then separated, leaving only concentrates.” During hydrocarbon extraction, butane or propane dissolves raw cannabis matter and collects cannabinoids and terpenes. “The solvent with the essential oils is then heated up to evaporate off the butane or propane, leaving behind the extract.” Ethanol extraction is performed by soaking raw cannabis in ethanol to capture trichomes into the solvent. “The cannabis is then removed; the liquid is filtered and the alcohol purged from the extracted material.”

The extraction method often depends on the facility. According to Leafly, “Some shops are devoted to CO2-based extractions, others operate mostly on butane-centric machinery, and a few employ machines of both stripes and more. Some will have large-scale machines for extracting cannabinoids—as well as other important cannabis compounds like terpenes—from big batches of flower, and smaller setups that let them conduct experiments on the side.”

“Every step of the extraction process demands a balance of art and science, beginning with the selection of starting material and ending with the purging and storage process.”


What Products are Created from Extraction?

Extractions gives cannabis users options when it comes to consumption. “Entrepreneurs have turned the full power of modern chemistry on cannabis,” according to Leafly. “Their goal has been to find ways to extract the cannabinoids giving the plant its character and effects, providing a way to enjoy the sensations associated with cannabis without having to smoke the actual flower.”

Products in highest demand include:

  • Tinctures: Cannabis-infused liquid in bottles with droppers that are administered sublingually or under the tongue
  • Capsules: Cannabis concentrates ingested orally in capsule form, ranging from single cannabinoid to full-spectrum or strain-specific oil
  • Vaporizer Cartridges: Oil-filled cartridges that connect to a battery that are vaporized
  • Hash: Vaporized, dabbed, or smoked, hash is a pressed concentration of the cannabis plant’s sticky glands
  • Shatter, Wax, and Dabbable Oils: Ingested orally, these are oils refined by a solvent like butane or CO2

Conclusion

Just like with a cultivation and retail business, an extraction facility requires a license to operate. Extraction laws, licensing processes, and regulations vary by state and municipality. That’s the first step, and understanding the intricacies and nuances of extraction comes next. Per Leafly, “The knowledge and care that goes into extracting oils is as complicated as the art of growing the plants they are derived from. Every step of the extraction process demands a balance of art and science, beginning with the selection of starting material and ending with the purging and storage process.”

Cannabis Public Consumption: The Next Big Industry Development

With cannabis going mainstream and now firmly established as the fastest growing industry in America, business owners and state officials are partnering to create more opportunities for public consumption. Unlike with liquor at bars, restaurants, clubs, etc., one cannot legally purchase cannabis and use it onsite. So what gives? Public or social consumption of cannabis has been viewed as anathema by local governments, especially since it clashes with clean air ordinances. The tide is turning, though, as in the last few months a handful of states have passed new laws allowing licenses for cannabis lounges and other social spaces where consumers can legally consume products.

Alaska

Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer (R) signed new regulations into law in March of 2019, issuing permits to businesses authorizing onsite consumption. The so-called “special onsite use endorsement” stipulates that consumption areas need to be physically separated from retail spaces, either by a wall and a secure door or an outdoor patio. The onus is on business owners to provide security plans and adequate ventilation. As is the case with most public consumption programs, local governments in Alaska will have the authority to prohibit onsite use outright or to tighten restrictions, including limiting consumption to vaping only.

California

The birthplace of social cannabis lounges in the U.S., California, is expected to open many more in the next couple of years. San Francisco leads the way with the most cannabis lounges, but recent legislation coming out of Los Angeles County will make municipalities like Los Angeles and West Hollywood the next leaders. LA county has been fielding social cannabis business applications since January of 2018, and West Hollywood changed codes and zoning regulations to allow public consumption in certain cafes and smoking lounges, and recently Assembly Bill 1465 was introduced that will allow smoking, vaping, and eating edibles.

“Another big move: West Hollywood will allow chefs to infuse cannabis into pre-planned and on-demand menus for onsite customers at new restaurants,” according to Forbes. “As the cafes come online over the next 12 months, West Hollywood will have more than double the number of cafes and lounges of any other city.”

Colorado

Colorado is the latest state to pass public consumption. House Bill 1230, set to take effect at the start of 2020, establishes regulations for retail stores to set up social consumption lounges, as well as allowing for mobile and temporary licenses. This means that businesses like music venues, art galleries, yoga studios, restaurants, and hotels can obtain public consumption permits and licenses for limited cannabis sales. There’s also a pathway for awarding temporary licenses for special events.

Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division will process licence applications and serve as the state’s regulatory board. Per High Times “Like any industry’s regulatory requirements, businesses will still have to clear a few hurdles before they can let customers light up. First, business owners and cannabis advocates will have to convince local governments to opt in to the new law. Otherwise, the state won’t award a public consumption license. House Bill 1230 also gives local governments the authority to tweak the rules for public consumption. Towns could, for example, only approve certain forms of consumption.”

Illinois

The Illinois Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act includes an exemption to the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, which prohibits outdoor smoking, allowing cities to determine if they want to permit on-site cannabis use at lounges, bars, restaurants, and other places of business. For now, the state is leaving it up localities to opt in or out to public consumption. The City of Chicago is weighing its options. “The regulations around on-site consumption have not yet been finalized,” said Lauren Huffman, a city spokeswoman in an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times in September, 2019. “We are taking the initial step of introducing zoning regulations so we can start to give businesses certainty around where dispensaries will be located. We have not yet made final decisions around where and how on site consumption will be regulated, but are having ongoing conversations with our partners in the industry, the community and the City Council around the best way to regulate the practice.”

Nevada

Nevada’s recreational cannabis programs began in 2016, and now public consumption licenses will be granted. The Las Vegas City Council in May 2019 voted to allow existing cannabis businesses to apply for permits to open consumption lounges. Clark County Commissioner and former state senator Tick Segerblom, who is also considered Nevada’s cannabis ambassador, told the USA Today Network, “We’re the new Amsterdam. That should be a concern to gaming companies. They’re concerned about (lounges) making money outside the hotels. They’re worried the longer this goes outside hotels, the more established they’ll get. As a business person, I would be concerned too.”

While Las Vegas cannabis businesses hope to cash in on weed tourism, the gaming community wants to wall off its hotels and casinos. The Nevada Gaming Control Board, which has taken a conservative stance on cannabis, brokered a compromise with the city to create a 1,000 foot buffer between gaming establishments and cannabis lounges.


One business that’s not compromising or sparing any expense is Acres Cannabis, a 19,000 square-foot dispensary set to roll out a social consumption lounge that will include a concert hall and full-service kitchen launched with the Morton family of Morton’s The Steakhouse in Chicago.

According to msn.com, “After the city builds an application, 20 dispensaries – already open or forthcoming in Las Vegas this year – can apply for licenses to open lounges prohibited from selling alcohol. The ordinance excludes dispensaries on The Strip, which is controlled by Clark County, not the city of Las Vegas, as well as Henderson and North Las Vegas.”

What State Will be Next?

The new trend of public consumption is expected to expand, especially with new states like Illinois passing adult use programs. Oregon, currently a medical and recreational use state, appears next on the horizon. If passed, Senate Bill 639 would require the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to regulate social consumption businesses and event spaces, allow for the sale of cannabis in these clubs, tasting tours on farms and expanded legal cannabis delivery into private and temporary residences.