There’s big news in the world of cannabis as the first pot smoking lounge opens in Maryland. The Montgomery County business is marketing itself as the first of its kind to open in the state. Read on to find out what you can expect when you visit.
First Pot Smoking Lounge Opens in Maryland
We are all used to the concept of going to a bar to get a drink. But more recently, the pot smoking lounge is taking over as the new adult trend.
While Cylon House in Burtonsville is the first pot smoking lounge to open in Maryland, it is not the first of its kind. There are several in other states as well.
“I have problems, back problems. So we figured it’d be a nice place to sit down and meet people,” says customer Linda Biddy.
Biddy and her friend Karen Holland, who has glaucoma, are both registered as Maryland medical marijuana patients.
“We’ll come in and sit down and relax,” said Holland.
Customers that come into the establishment must follow several rules before partaking. For one, they have to sign a waiver stating that they are 21 or over and that they are a Maryland medical marijuana patient. They also have to stop consuming 30 minutes to an hour before they leave.
“Currently, there are no real guidelines for lounges here in Maryland. And so we want to make sure we set the right example here,” said co-owner Venus Hemachandra.
The first pot smoking lounge to open in Maryland is the brainchild of Hemachandra and partner Shreemall Perera. The grand opening, which took place last weekend, was the result of a long and expensive permitting process.
They had the idea to open the lounge in 2018 and got to work on it the following year, but COVID delayed the process.
“We wanted an official place where everyone knew you could just come, light up, no one’s going to, you know, arrest you for it. Venus and I would go down to the permits office ourselves. We would go down and explain things and say, ‘Hey, this is how we intend to do it, what can we do?’ so we were fortunate that they worked with us. But it was a long process,” Perera explained.
In addition to a lengthy permitting process, the partners also faced considerable expenses including a costly HVAC machine and sky-high insurance premiums. But they were committed to a mission of creating a space where people could come and talk about marijuana-related activities and culture and enjoy cannabis in a comfortable space.
“What we wanted to do was make sure there is a safe space for patients to come in and consume your cannabis, get to know some other people in the cannabis community. It really is meant to be that safe space to come in and meet people and learn a little bit more,” Hemachandra says.
What are Cannabis Laws in Maryland?
The first pot smoking lounge in Maryland is for medical marijuana patients only. So what’s the deal with recreational users?
Well, according to Maryland law, recreational cannabis is not yet permitted in Maryland. However, it will become legal to possess and use recreational weed on July 1, 2023.
Lawmakers are still working out a regulatory framework for the adult market. Part of what they will need to figure out is when it will be legal to sell recreational weed and where it can be sold. Legislative sessions will be ongoing through April 2023.
There is no work on whether the first pot smoking lounge in Maryland will be changing its format to allow for recreational users at that time.
Other Pot Smoking Lounges Throughout the Country
While the first Cylon House is the first pot smoking lounge to open in Maryland, there are several others that have opened throughout the country. They present a solution to an ongoing dilemma. Although many states allow you to consume weed legally, that doesn’t mean you can consume it wherever and whenever you wish.
Pot smoking lounges provide a safe space for you to light up without having to worry about legal implications.
These lounges are nothing new. They have been around as far back as the late 1800s when they were known as ‘hashish clubs’, ‘hemp retreats’, and ‘tea pads’. There were several established in New York and Boston as places where people could go, listen to jazz and consume.
Today’s lounges pay homage to the legendary lounges of yesterday, but in the face of legalization, there are changes in regulations that vary from state to state.
You can find pot smoking lounges in various U.S. states including Nevada, California, Arizona, and now, of course, Maryland.
What to Know When Entering a Pot Smoking Lounge
There are several things you should know when entering a pot smoking lounge.. For example, there is the question of whether the lounge sells weed.
Lounges work in different capacities. Some are established in conjunction with a dispensary or delivery service. In these cases, they are meant as places where customers can enjoy the weed the dispensary or delivery service is providing.
Some lounges sell cannabis and may require you to buy their products upon entering as part of their policy. Others may sell products like bongs, papers, and other essentials to make money. Some may charge you at the door.
Time limits and reservations may also come into play.
Keep in mind that budtenders at these lounges are trained to look for signs of excessive impairment. They may require you to sober up before you leave. Also, most are not allowed to sell alcohol.