All photos courtesy of Hitman Coffee
Doug Dracup, the dabbing dynamo behind Hitman Glass and the respected cannabis competition Chalice Cup, has redefined the scope of legal weed in Los Angeles with Hitman Coffee, LA's first Amsterdam-style "coffeeshop."
While the stark, lofted space functions legally as a private art gallery, Hitman hosts a slew of events, from art shows, comedy nights, and medicated brunches, to dance parties, stoned yoga, and industry panel conversations. To enter, one must purchase a membership ($20 a day, $400 a month), and while it's more than kosher to get high, you can only do so through your own supply. There are no sales at Hitman Coffee — the operation is fully BYOB (bring your own bud).
"I started thinking, well, what is a coffee shop really?" said Dracup, exhaling a blunt we passed around one of the space's industrial wooden tables. The white-walled, cement-floored aesthetic you'd see at any gallery in Chelsea was punctuated by glass cases filled with wild rigs from Hitman Glass, including a fully functional helmet pipe. An indoor koi pond trickled in the background, as members lounged about the expansive space, working on laptops, sipping coffee, and taking dabs.
"Outside of the sale, Amsterdam's coffeeshops are really about the atmosphere, the experience. The weed is the accent. You know it's there, but you don't have to buy it there," Dracup continued. "I feel like us setting up our coffee shop business plan without the sale helps us focus on the environment and interaction, and maximizing the business outside of sale. It forces us to have to create content to bring people in." And create content they have, gaining traction with events like a monthly comedy night with Kevin Nealon, hosting a cast and crew viewing of VICE's cannabis cooking show, Bong Appetite, and an upcoming interactive blunt art show with famed underground artist "WEAVERS."
Image via Hitman Coffee's Instagram
The fact that Hitman refrains from sale allows them to function with a certain level of freedom, circumventing the legal swamp currently surrounding cannabis' transition to legality in California. Instead of becoming bogged down with the intricacy of combining on-site consumption with on-site sale, Hitman focuses on providing a purely safe space for cannabis users to enjoy without fear of persecution.
"What I'm going for is to have the Hitman brand be a symbol of responsible consumption in a totally safe space," Dracup said. "People are always like what license do you guys have? But this is an art gallery. There's no sale, and everybody here can legally have it. Legally, people can now open spaces that are designated as "cannabis friendly," but they have to be private, which means that if someone comes in off the street, they have to become a member. They have to be 21. It's not 18+ with a rec. There are no loopholes."
Photo via Hitman Coffee's Instagram
Dracup has built his brand on responsible consumption, from Hitman Glass' beginnings in Boston around 2009, to founding Chalice Cup, one of the most respected cannabis competitions/festivals in existence, to opening Hitman Coffee in April of 2017. Part of California's new wave of classy cannabis consumption, Hitman is a gorgeous space that could be transformed to host almost any type of event, from skate party to brunch event to black tie affair. In this way, it functions as a psychical manifestation of the progress weed is making in inundating the mainstream, something the cannabis community has always strived for, but only recently seen blossom to fruition.
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"I think this platform has a really bright future," Dracup added. "What we've done with Chalice is put in our due diligence to create safe spaces. People who work with us know we're not going to put them in harm's way. Just watching how people interact with the idea is crazy. There's nothing like it, so they don't know what to expect. It's about two or three years ahead of its time."
For comparison, social spaces that allow marijuana consumption are still an anomaly in the legal cannabis space. In Colorado, despite voters approving "pot cafes" in Initiative-300, a city-wide bill to allow pot consumption at specially-approved venues like coffee shops and yoga studios, the city's regulatory committee has all but killed the proposal. Similarly in Maine, voters approved social-use clubs when the state voted to legalize recreational marijuana in November, 2016. But now it appears as if the future of smoking clubs will be dead on arrival when legalization officially goes into effect on January 1st, 2018.
Due to the overwhelming success of the LA location, Dracup and company hope to open the second installment, a location in Orange County, somewhere around early December of this year. The 10,000 square foot space is already licensed, with room for a concert venue, and plans for a huge glass blowing element with windows so members will be able to watch Hitman pieces being made.
"What I like about this facet of our brand is there's no ceiling. Anything is possible," Dracup said during the end of our blunted conversation. "It's just a trip to think that if you pull out a flask right here, just if you were to pull out a pack of cigarettes, that shit is legal. And you know what? Cannabis is legal too, just nobody is used to it yet."
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