Cannabis lounges where customers can partake in the site can come to the small Ventura County town of Ojai, a popular retirement and vacation destination in Southern California.
The Ojai City Council this week showed interest in moving forward with a proposal to allow three cannabis dispensaries in the city to open lounges where patrons can smoke, vape or consume edibles.
The council was originally considering a policy that would allow only food consumption in halls, based on a recommendation from the Ojai Planning Commission. That proposal was rejected Tuesday night and the council requested additional time to contact the city’s three dispensaries to get a better idea of what the salons would look like.
“They are doing that with an open mind; it could involve 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 dispensaries that could open salons are Ojai Greens, Sespe Creek Collective and Shangri-La Care Centers.
Beyond boosting tourism and business, having an on-site salon would allow for more educational opportunities, said Jeffrey Kroll, 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 advantage of having a group of users on site is that it makes those who have never used cannabis feel more comfortable,” Kroll said.
Chelsea Sutula, owner of Sespe Creek Collective, said she was excited to see little opposition from the council to the plan to add cannabis lounges in the city.
“We’ve been trying to get the city to pass this for almost a year,” Sutula said. “Our biggest limitation here is what real estate is available.”
Currently, the three dispensaries have been allowed to operate only from an industrial area on the south end of Ojai. Council members are also considering whether to allow dispensaries 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 trip. However, tourism remains a hot topic as crowds push a tight market for hotel rooms and short-term vacation rentals banned by the city.