West Hollywood is going green, as in allowing the cannabis industry to expand and transform entertainment in the city in a way similar to the famously popular European weed-tourism hotspot Amsterdam, CBS Los Angeles reports.
Pot cafes, restaurants, lounges and even galleries may have a "WeHo" home with the potential to draw millions of tourists and their money, the station explains.
"I really see it as a place that can redefine what the image of cannabis is to the general public," said Kelly Lyon, of The Artist Tree Marijuana Dispensary, as he showcased the wide range of pot-based products in the store.
The Artist Tree, part of an ever evolving and booming industry, is also a gallery, and will soon open a lounge upstairs. It will be one of a number of cannabis-based businesses already in or set to open in West Hollywood.
"It would be awesome to be able to have a business where you can appreciate art. If yoga is more your thing, you can walk down the street and do that while you consume and everyone is sort of bringing a different idea to the table," Lyon said.
WeHo, a city of just over 35,000 residents, is already a major entertainment hub, and the city has said it's ready to expand what that means.
"Right now, there are six dispensaries in the City of West Hollywood," John Leonard, Community and Legislative Affairs Manager for West Hollywood pointed out.
As the Los Angeles Times first reported, WeHo officials are thinking Amsterdam, the Dutch city tourists flock to for the canals, the Rembrandts – and the cafes, bars and coffeeshops where they can legally smoke marijuana.
"We could get up to a total of 23 cannabis businesses. That's a combination of up to 11 dispensaries and 12 consumption lounges as well," Leonard said.
Celebrities such as Jay-Z are even investing in and buying up dispensaries in WeHo as the industry expands.
Leonard said residents overwhelmingly supported the legalization of pot in the ballot measure knowns as Proposition 64 and there's been little resistance to the plans for cannabis.
"We've heard very few complaints from residents. We've had a lot of residents come out and support these businesses, as we've gone through our city process, but we haven't heard that much in general," Leonard said.
City officials told CBS L.A. alcohol won't be allowed in the pot lounges. There will also be other regulations, such as strict odor rules.
Katrina Corcoran, who's visiting from Sydney, Australia, seemed fine with idea as long as the shops remain a novelty.
"I don't think there should be too many of them because it just becomes a bit more common then. I think it's a bit of a novelty to have them, but I guess, yeah, it depends on the uses," she said.
Vincent Williams, though, welcomes the businesses.
"I mean, it'll bring revenue, right? So, that's always good. What's about bad about that? And as long as they're legal, I don't think it'll attract the wrong crowd. It's just a little grass from the ground," Williams said.
for more features.