San Francisco Gives Green Light To Social Use Lounges

San Franciscans can once again take up in many of the city’s sensimilla salons

Cannabis lounges aren’t just social places to toke up — they are a sacred local tradition and a piece of San Francisco’s history of pioneering drug policy.

When Dennis Peron opened the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club in 1994, it was more than a forward-thinking meeting place for the Castro’s most stoned political activists. The SFCBC offered a glimpse of the landmark changes in cannabis legalization that would soon come to the Golden State.

It was here, at 1444 Market St., that medical patients, many of whom were suffering from AIDS, gathered together in something like a sensimilla salon: smoking, socializing, and organizing years before medical marijuana was legal in California. Though a series of federal raids and police pressure forced the cannabis lounge to close in 1998, it was here that the pioneers of medical cannabis conspired to pass America’s first law legalizing cannabis possession, California’s Prop 215. 

Since 1998, several other cannabis lounges have opened and closed in San Francisco. And though in recent years they had become a thriving attraction for both tourists and locals alike, the pandemic disrupted business significantly. Urban Pharm, one of San Francisco’s oldest lounges, was also one of many businesses lost to COVID-19. Others, like the consumption lounge at Hunters Point’s new Posh Green Dispensary, had to delay its opening until this summer. All consumption lounges were forced to close when San Francisco first instituted a citywide Stay At Home order on March 17, 2020.

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