A landlord just filed an eviction notice for High Times' unopened cannabis lounge in Los Angeles, claiming that the company owes them tens of thousands of dollars in rent.
Hightimes, the parent company behind the iconic High Times magazine, originally took ownership of one of California's few legal cannabis consumption lounges in 2022. Flore Flora, the company that originally owned the lounge, managed to snag one of the first legal pot lounge licenses to be offered in West Hollywood. When the business first opened its doors in 2019, it actually became the country's first full-service cannabis consumption lounge, according to WEHOville.
Flore Flora's good luck didn't last long, though. The business was forced to shut its doors when the pandemic hit in March 2020, and the owners never managed to reopen. Last year, Hightimes stepped up to acquire 85% of the company's assets with an aim to restart the lounge under their own banner. California's complicated cannabis licensing laws made it particularly difficult to transfer the lounge license from one company to the other, but officials finally signed off on the transfer last August.
But although the licenses were eventually approved, the lounge still never opened for business. And now it's looking like that may never happen. The building's landlord, Star Alliance, just sent an eviction notice to Hightimes Holdings Corp and Flore Flora LLC earlier this month. The notice demands that the tenants either cough up nearly $85,000 in unpaid rent within three days or vacate the premises immediately.
The news is kind of a bummer for Californians because there are actually very few places in the Golden State where people can get together and legally share a joint in public. Smoking weed outdoors is still technically illegal in the state, and many landlords and conventional hotels prohibit indoor puffing as well. West Hollywood residents aren't totally out of luck, though. WeHo is home to several pot cafes, including the Artist Tree and Woody Harrelson's personal pot shop and lounge, The Woods.
California lawmakers are also working on a new bill that would add a few new options to the state's public consumption space. Last year, Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) introduced AB 374, a bill that would allow existing cannabis shops to apply for a license to sell non-infused food and beverages. An earlier version of the legislation would have expanded pot shops' ability to allow patrons to smoke or vape weed at live music events or other performances, but these provisions have unfortunately been removed from the current draft of the bill.