Envision this: You’re at a bar, but the energy is decidedly relaxed—even a bit posh. Instead of throwing back shots, you’re sharing a vape pen or tasting a cannabis confection from a local bakery—maybe there’s a latte involved. There’s trivia night going on in one corner, in the same area of the lounge where comedy night was happening last week. You can ask a cannabis aficionado (or “budtender”) about a new type of flower at the counter, or even order table service (complete with rolling papers) from your pre-reserved booth. And no, you aren’t in Amsterdam.
Marijuana prohibition’s slow but promising lift is making room for a wave of “public cannabis consumption spaces,” also known as “social consumption lounges” (SCLs) or cannabis cafés, more casually. As of now, there are very few spots open for business in this category, but it’s predicted that the legalization and marijuana café trend will explode in the coming months and years as state laws continue to change. Ahead of the curve, the San Francicsco Bay Area currently has the largest number of SCLs in the country, but more are cropping up in other areas of the United States as well.
Ahead are nine stylish, comfortable, welcoming spaces for a new kind of recreational marijuana happy hour, with some pointers and suggestions from Erik Knutson, CEO of Keef Brands. Not only is Erik the force behind Keef (known as a “pioneering developer, producer, and distributor of award-winning cannabis-infused beverages, edibles, oils, and more”) but he’s the cofounder and president of the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH), founding board member of the Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF), and cofounder of the Denver Packaging Company (DPAC).
1. Good Titrations
Location: 506 Merhar Ave., Suite B, Fairbanks, Alaska | Find on Google Maps
This spot is much more than a cannabis café. It also has an on-site shop, a grow room (which you can see from the consumption area, thanks to a clever window design), and a lounge space that feels more like a friend’s living room—there’s always a game playing on the TVs. Make sure to ask one of the budtenders to walk you through the growing process for an educational post-joint lesson.
2. Café Cannal
Location: 416 Broadway, New York City | Find on Google Maps
NYC is full of coffee shops, but this one is a bit different: it’s the city’s first CBD café, where you can get a taste of just how far edibles have come in the past few years. You can’t actively smoke weed on the premises and there are only CBD products available, but it offers a more chill vibe for those who love small businesses and who are looking for an experience more akin to grabbing a morning coffee.
Location: 3508 N. Broadway, Chicago, Illinois | Find on Google Maps
Self-described as Chicago’s original cannabis-infused bakery and coffee shop, Wake-N-Bakery has an extensive menu of THC-infused goodies. From the more expected (matcha lattes and iced teas) to the downright fun (like Snoop’s Dream, a caramel Italian espresso drink that pairs well with the weed-infused muffins), this is a spot where you’ll want to linger. There are five locations peppered around the city; the one in the city’s Lakeview neighborhood is within walking distance of Lake Michigan. You can also pick up pre-rolls, edibles, and other cannabis products from Wake-N-Bakery.
4. Rise Mundelein Lounge
Location: 1325 Armour Blvd., Mundelein, Illinois | Find on Google Maps
Rise Mundelein Lounge was founded in 2021 and was the very first cannabis consumption lounge to open east of the Mississippi. Boasting chic, jungle green space, the lounge was dreamed up by famed Chicago interior designer Sasha Adler. Here, guests can choose from a wide variety of flowers, vapes, pre-rolls, edibles, extracts, and tinctures, as well as any gear they might need. Online shopping and curbside pick up are also available. Next month, Green Thumb Industries (the parent company that owns Rise) will be hosting one of the first legal cannabis consumption music festivals in town, “The Miracle in Mundelein.” Cypress Hill, Action Bronson, and Stephen Marley are on the lineup and cannabis consumption is allowed anywhere on site.
5. Moe Greens
Location: 1276 Market St., San Francisco, California | Find on Google Maps
About a block away from X HQ in San Francisco’s tech-centric mid-Market Street neighborhood sits a whimsical yet sophisticated midcentury-modern space, with rich olive hues and gold Sputnik chandeliers: Moe Greens. “This is an upscale cannabis lounge that brings together all kinds of people and consumers to relax in their booths and experience a wide variety of products, including infused beverages,” says Knutson. The different areas of this lounge include a vaping zone called the Playground, a space called the Vault for consuming “concentrated cannabis extracts,” and the High Roller, for traditional smoking.
Words of advice from Knutson: “The lounge gets really busy, so be sure to make a reservation!” Though the tables and booths are first-come first-served, to guarantee space and table ordering service, booking ahead is required. Keep in mind that the reservations aren’t free. As one could expect when buying a table at a club, it’s the same gist here—a booth in the High Roller or a table at the Playground runs $420 (heh) per hour, with enough space for five to six people. Because this lounge is also a dispensary, guests can buy any products they might want to enjoy on site before venturing into one of the three consumption rooms. And in case documenting the whole experience at a social consumption lounge is of importance, there’s free Wi-Fi.
6. The Studio Cannabis Smoking Lounge & Weed Dispensary
Location: 8625 Santa Monica Blvd., 2nd Floor, West Hollywood, California | Find on Google Maps
Up a flight of stairs above the Artist Tree Cannabis Dispensary, you’ll find a beautifully designed (and wildly calming) lounge serving up snacks and canna-cocktails. As one of the area’s first cannabis shops, the focus here is on using marijuana as a way to boost creativity, and you’ll certainly leave the space feeling inspired. There is both indoor and outdoor seating available, and you can reserve a table ahead of time.
7. Rose Mary Jane
Location: 2340 Harrison St., Oakland, California | Find on Google Maps
This Black- and woman-owned dispensary and cannabis lounge is all about the vibes. If you find yourself turned off by the all-too-often overwhelming weed scent of marijuana shops, this is an option for you. A menu of mocktails complements the THC products you can buy and enjoy on the patio. Plus, the business partners with local nonprofits such as the Last Prisoner Project and the Women’s Prison Association to support social equity and freedom for those incarcerated for cannabis-related felonies.
8. The Summit Private Lounge
Location: 116 Water St., Worcester, Massachusetts | Find on Google Maps
Travel a bit west of Boston to find the Summit Private Lounge in Worcester. This upscale bar and lounge offers an elevated yet rustic aesthetic to enjoy cannabis tastings while taking in live music or playing video games.
Rent or buy a smoking device (like a piece or a bong), and take advantage of the cold drinks, snacks, and coffee on offer. There are bimonthly events, paint nights—and yes, video games—all available to anyone with a membership or guest pass. The idea of a “members-only” club might sound pricey and exclusive, but the Summit makes its social cannabis experience accessible with a modest $20 per month fee.
9. The Coffee Joint
Location: 1130 Yuma Ct., Denver, Colorado | Find on Google Maps
Located next door to a dispensary, Denver’s the Coffee Joint may look like a run-of-the-mill beatnik coffeehouse, but it’s (as of now) the only place you can publicly (and legally) consume cannabis in Colorado . . . but you still can’t smoke. (Smoking in public is illegal, regardless of what you’re smoking.) As Denver’s first licensed cannabis social consumption club and coffeehouse, the Coffee Joint has been a pioneer in this space. It offers cannabis-centric educational events, as well as complimentary coffee and tea, plus snacks, beer, and kombucha for purchase. You’ve gotta pay to play, though. In order to consume cannabis at the Coffee Joint, there’s a small fee along with a liability waiver.
This article originally appeared online in 2019; it was most recently updated on August 23, 2023, by Erika Owens, to include current information.