With 13% of Americans identifying as frequent users of marijuana today and 10 states now having legalized recreational usage, the weed enthusiasts and market investors have been intently watching the progress of the cannabis industry.
San Francisco initially permitted 46 dispensaries and delivery services when it first legalised adult recreational sales of marijuana back in 2018. The city’s Office of Cannabis is currently reviewing the second wave of additional 47 applications to be authorised dispensaries and delivery services.
What’s fascinating is that the legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana triggered transformation of the cannabis culture beyond increase in (legal) dispensaries. It allowed creative and unique ideas of social life and nightlife in SF.
The rise of cannabis lounges
Out of the 10 states which have legalised recreational weed, only California allows consumption of marijuana at authorised retailers with some restrictions that could be imposed by each city. 420 cafes and lounges similar to the ones in Amsterdam have been popping up all over SF.
West Hollywood has issued 8 licenses for smoking lounges, San Francisco Bay Area 2, and Oakland 1. Some creative retailers such as this cannabis dispensary in West Hollywood took the opportunity to offer the world’s first upscale cannabis lounge with a bar and other facilities to combine cannabis and social interactions.
San Francisco dispensaries are slowly following suit with different themes such as comedy nights and cigar rooms to differentiate themselves.
Birth of new businesses and technologies
San Francisco is a hipster town but it also is the world’s most powerful incubator of new ideas. Thus, it’s not surprising that we’re seeing new ideas and technologies being created right here in SF following the cannabis legalization.
Tourism and travel industry jumped on the bandwagon as well, offering cannabis tours and cruises around SF and northern California to curious visitors who want to experience the booming world of cannabis.
New startups in SF as well as across the country are popping up to capitalize on various aspects of a whole new industry. Some of them have attracted serious amount of investments already. Most of the new ventures are related to delivery, tools for marijuana consumption, or testing but there are a few very unique ones such as HighThere which is a companion matching app for cannabis users.
Influence on the culinary world
Legalization of medicinal marijuana (before recreational) opened doors for partnerships between cannabis producers and food producers as well as restaurants. Legalization allowed for more creative ideas to reach the mass and also applied pressure on edible producers to examine how to measure the dosage to minimize changes of over consumption.
Edibles are nothing new. There have been underground cannabis culinary scenes forming for years. But in places where weed is legal, we are seeing the cannabis-experimentation expanding beyond eateries. Tea companies are testing to see what tea works best when infused with cannabis. We’re seeing a few wineries showing interest in combining the two crops that are actually farmed in close proximity.
Cultural shift in the perception of drug use
Once a serious felony with severe mandatory sentencing requirements, cannabis has made a real legal victory across the U.S. in the past 5 years. California actually took a step further to rectify what many consider to be a serious societal damage the war on drugs had inflicted on the citizens.
San Francisco took the lead in this call for justice reform by proactively reviewing over 5,000 marijuana-related felony convictions to retroactively apply the new legalization laws, going back as far as 1975.
The legalization of recreational weed in some of the states motivated people to demand changes on the federal level; public sentiment, shown by multiple petitions, now demands that we stop viewing drug use as a criminal issue.