Written by Paul Peterson
Here’s what we’ve been waiting for in Southern California. Currently, the only open cannabis dispensary and consumption lounge in Los Angeles is here and designed with style and grace. It is called The Artist Tree. Better than a boisterous bar scene, more engaging than a funky coffeehouse and it’s a functioning art gallery as well.
The Artist Tree’s three-story complex is located at, 8625 Santa Monica Blvd., in West Hollywood. It is the flagship for four open dispensaries in the LA area, including Beverly Hills, Koreatown and Riverside, all under the Artist Tree banner. The West Hollywood dispensary recently opened their consumption lounge on the second floor of the complex, with a third-floor space for Yoga sessions, artist-led puff and paint sessions, music nights, comedy nights, private parties and special guests.
If you are planning to visit the LA area, here is the one spot where you can purchase curated strains of cannabis, edibles, tinctures and ointments while consuming in the right way. Sure, it can be purchased and taken home for consumption, but here you can lounge on the second floor, puff weed on comfy couches on a balcony seat overlooking Santa Monica Boulevard and gaze around at walls lined with excellent local artists’ work. Get high, talk with friends and be civilized. The cannabis bar, if you will, looks like any stylish, well-appointed lounge. Instead of rows of liquor bottles behind the bar, it’s cannabis and related products.
There’s even a wall of library books. There is a formidable system for re-circulating the air and no apparent sense of smell. It’s easy to feel comfortable if you are a novice or a heavy hitter.
What To Know
Things to know should include any current masking rules for Covid. Although masking is currently optional, proof of vaccination is required. You can buy in the dispensary and consume on the second-floor lounge. You can also consume edibles on the third floor, just no smoking. There is art to enjoy and purchase everywhere on the walls of all three floors.
You can make a reservation on Open Table for 75-minute sittings or take a chance, especially during the day and just walk-in. Bring cash or a debit card. It’s still impossible to use a credit card until banking regulations change. There are ATMs in the dispensary that can issue cash advances.
Peruse the menu so you have some idea about what to order when you get there. They have a wide array of flower, edibles and topicals. There are pre-rolls of every velocity so everyone from the heavy veterans and newcomers to weed, can find the right thing and there is a well-trained staff to help every customer.
Dispensary hours are 8am to 9:50pm daily but the lounge hours are 12-noon to 10pm, Monday through Friday, and 10am to 10pm on Saturdays and Sundays. The Artist Tree also operates express pickup and delivery services.
There is food available to satisfy the munchies. It is delivered from a nearby restaurant, Kitchen24, and It can be ordered from your table by a QR code. It takes about 15 or 20 minutes to arrive so order first and start smoking. I got the disco fries. That’s garlic-flavored fries smothered in chicken gravy and cheese. How vicious. They were delicious.
Bring a Friend – Share Bong Hits
This is the future of civilized public consumption of cannabis. Your server, or “budler” is well-informed and can steer each person to the product that best serves their needs. There are notices with each product about onset time and duration, so consumers know what to expect. The budler brings each table a tray with rolling papers a grinder and a lighter, all house compliments. If you come in a group, or at least two, consider renting the super hitter, the Stundenglass gravity bong. Just to watch it fill with smoke and roll over as water flows from one vessel to another and a jet stream of smoke comes out the nozzle is a buzz. Just inhale from an inch or two away from the nozzle and the hit is heavy. Nothing is touched but the nozzle is changed anyway between uses. If it blows you away, you can even buy one, but they are very costly. Just the $40 rental is enough for the first timer.
Journey to get here
To have opened the first consumption lounge in the post-Covid era, besides operating a successful group of dispensaries requires a special combination of elements.
This is the culmination of four partners with a combined cannabis industry experience of nearly fifty years. Their combined skills and experiences allowed them to navigate an incredible maze of excessive regulations, changing laws and enormous fees. Led by founder Lauren Fontein, attorney and 14-year veteran of the industry, joined with brothers Avi Kahan and Mitchell Kahan, also 10- to-15-year veterans in cannabis dispensaries, and Aviv Halimi, totaling almost 50 years in combined dispensary experience. They also had a vision for an artist-led approach. That vision found favor when West Hollywood was ready to award a new consumption lounge license. These veterans were the first to survive the onslaught of difficulties required of anyone trying to succeed in this industry. It took from inception in May of 2018 to April of 2022 to get the lounge approved to open. Part of that was due to the epidemic but there were still plenty of hoops to jump through.
Their open doors are a symbol that this new era is arriving. And arriving in style with an artistic flair as it should. They are also good citizens in each community in that the dispensary gives tens of thousands of dollars to various community causes. They offer art classes and yoga classes if you live in the area. If you are a cannabis tourist, this is a must stop.
Fifty years ago, sitting at a coffeehouse in Amsterdam, having a beverage and toking hashish I wondered why we couldn’t be doing this in America. It seemed so civilized. At last, now we can.
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