Less than a month after the legalization of recreational marijuana kicked in in Illinois, the state will open its first cannabis consumption lounge, where weed use will be allowed on-site.
Located in downtown Springfield, dispensary HCI Alternatives’ marijuana lounge was approved by the Springfield City Council this week with a 9 to 1 vote.
The news was welcomed by marijuana enthusiasts in Illinois as smoking pot is only allowed in private residences.
Explaining the decision to proceed with approving the marijuana lounge, Springfield Alderwoman Doris Turner said that “these on-site lounges provide some safety for individuals who are 21 and over that want to consume a legal product, and I believe that people will be responsible and they will react and act in the same way if they go downtown to a bar.”
The sole dissenting councilman, Alderman Joe McMenamim, expressed concerns over the combination of alcohol and marijuana consumption in “our historic district.”
From marijuana lounges to cannabis cafes
As more and more states move to legalize weed, the need for safe spaces to consume cannabis is on the rise.
Social consumption lounges or SCLs, where people can freely use marijuana, are becoming increasingly popular in the United States.
Chris Stone, the owner of HCI, told the State Journal-Register he expects the marijuana lounge to fully launch in April and inspire other lounges across Illinois in the future.
“It’s uncharted territory right now as to what we’re doing, so we’re trying to figure that out and hopefully we can figure that out in the next three to four months and, once again, develop the model by which other lounges are going to be looking to do the same thing,” Stone said.
Stone also told the media that the HCI lounge could make use of the movie theater in the back of the facility or put in a kitchen where people could learn how to make marijuana-infused edibles.
Last year, West Hollywood became home to the first cannabis cafe in the country. Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe, which allows both indoor and patio weed use, opened its doors in October.
Aside from a place to freely consume marijuana, Lowell’s also sells cannabis products ranging from flowers and concentrates to edibles.