If you’re looking for a place to meet up with friends and smoke some legal weed, there may soon be cannabis lounges in Cathedral City where you can do just that.
The City Council voted 3-2 on Wednesday to allow the lounges, with Mayor Stan Henry and Council member Mark Carnevale voting no. Dispensaries in the city will be able to apply for an additional permit allowing them to set up an area where customers can legally consume the pot they have purchased.
The move gives visitors a place to smoke or eat edibles, since many hotels and rental properties don’t allow for smoking. Similar to alcohol, cannabis can’t be consumed in public places, such as streets or parks, which has left some tourists, and residents who live in non-smoking condos or apartments, without a place to legally consume marijuana.
At a previous meeting, Carnevale said he supported the medical cannabis industry but not the recreational market and didn’t believe the lounges were appropriate for Cathedral City. He also said it was dangerous to have a place where someone can “go smoke your brains out” and then potentially get behind the wheel.
“I’m just totally against this, 100 percent,” he said.
On Wednesday, he said he was still against it, that it was a “slippery slope” and the city shouldn’t have anything to do with the lounges.
The city’s cannabis task force, comprised of residents, city staff and dispensary and cultivation facility owners, studied ordinances in place in Palm Springs and Denver to shape the recommendations it made for the Cathedral City ordinance.
Most of those suggestions were adopted by the city.
Permitted dispensaries in good standing with the city will be able to apply for the on-site consumption permits, and fairly strict rules will govern the lounges. All cannabis consumed on site has to be purchased on site – no “Bring Your Own” weed – and any product not consumed has to be packaged by dispensary employees in city- and state- approved packaging before it can be taken out of the business
The lounge will have to be in a separate room of the facility from the dispensary floor, and must be an enclosed space – no patios – which cannot be visible from any place where people under 21 are allowed.
Maria Scagliotti, owner of Green Cross Pharma dispensary and a member of the cannabis task force, said if the council is worried about the odor of the marijuana as it is smoked, , consumption while on the patios could be restricted to edibles or vaping.
She also said it is possible that forcing customers to smoke indoors could result in a “contact high” effect on other customers or on employees, which could interfere with their work performance.
The task force had recommended any business applying for a consumption permit has to occupy its entire building, an attempt to limit the potential impact of pot-related odors on neighboring shops.
The council broke with that recommendation so all licensed dispensaries in good standing with the city can apply for an on-site consumption permit. Council members also added a provision that gives police the go-ahead to inspect the facilities, a practice already in place with establishments that serve alcohol.
Palm Springs passed a similar ordinance last year, allowing for weed lounges in commercial and industrial-zoned areas of the city.
The ordinance adopted by the Cathedral City Council Wednesday also included a provision addressing a complaint from dispensary owners who said it is difficult to keep their shops fully staffed because the background check employees are legally required to undergo takes a long time to be completed.
Council did amend city code to waive the background checks for lower-level employees, as the task force recommended. However, council members did amend city code to allow employees to start work while their screenings were being processed, with the condition they stop working immediately if the background check throws up any red flags.
Special Thanks to Corinne Kennedy & The Desert Sun for “Content Share”