Ojai looks to allow new cannabis lounges for on-site consumption

Cannabis lounges where customers could participate on-site may be coming to the small town of Ojai in Ventura County, a popular Southern California retreat and vacation destination.

The Ojai City Council this week signaled interest in moving forward with a proposal that would allow three cannabis dispensaries in the city to open lounges where customers could smoke, vape, or consume edibles.

The council originally considered a policy that would only allow edibles to be consumed in the lounges, per a recommendation from the Ojai Planning Commission. That proposal was rejected on Tuesday night, with the council asking for additional time to contact the city’s three pharmacies to get a better idea of ​​what the lounges might look like.

“You do this with an open mind; It could be edibles, smoking or vaping,” said Robin Godfrey, spokesman for the city of Ojai.

The process is expected to take several months, Godfrey said.

The three pharmacies allowed to open lounges are Ojai Greens, Sespe Creek Collective and Shangri-La Care Centers.

Aside from boosting tourism and business, an on-site lounge would allow for more educational opportunities, said Jeffrey Kroll, the owner of Shangri-La Care Centers. He said the average age of his clients is 56, and his clients include first-time cannabis smokers.

“The benefit of having a group of people using locally is that those who have never used cannabis feel more comfortable,” Kroll said.

Chelsea Sutula, owner of the Sespe Creek Collective, said she was thrilled that the city council saw little opposition to the plan to set up cannabis lounges in the city.

“We’ve been trying to get the city to approve this for almost a year,” Sutula said. “Our biggest limitation here is what properties are available.”

Currently, the three pharmacies are only allowed to operate from an industrial area at the southern end of Ojai. Council members are also considering allowing pharmacies to open closer to downtown on East Ojai Avenue.

“A lot of people are looking for alternatives to bars to socialize,” Sutula said.

Ojai has become an increasingly popular destination for Angelenos looking for a day or weekend getaway. Tourism remains a hot topic, however, as crowds weigh on a tight market for hotel rooms and short-term vacation rentals, which the city has banned.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-16/ojai-new-cannabis-lounges-for-on-site-consumption Ojai looks to allow new cannabis lounges for on-site consumption

Alley Einstein

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