Michigan Is Getting Its First Public Consumption Weed Lounge ... Sort of, Anyway
Hot Box Social will be Michigan's first attempt at a public consumption site. But like previous attempts in other legal states, regulators are making it difficult for tokers to freely smoke as easily as they could drink booze in a bar.
Published on March 31, 2022

Michigan is finally getting a public cannabis consumption site, nearly four years after legalizing weed. But there's a catch, of course.

Michiganders will need a special occasion to experience the state’s first legal cannabis lounge when it opens. Hot Box Social is coming to the town of Hazel Park, which is located 10 miles north of Detroit. The vertically-integrated cannabis company that owns the lounge, Trucenta, is opting to start it off with “corporate, social and special events.”

“Come summer, we’ll start scheduling events so the public can experience Hot Box Social with consumption-friendly activities like social gatherings, educational opportunities and arts-focused activities,” Trucenta’s Chief Information Officer Nowfal Akash stated in a press release.

According to the release, the 3,000-square-feet, 200-maximum-capacity business sounds like a combination coworking business and therapy office, describing it as “a relaxed gathering space for meetings and special events where cannabis can be consumed in a safe and supportive environment.”

Hot Box’s guests may consume cannabis in designated on-site areas, but this is not quite a bring-you-own-weed environment. Guests will be required to have their on-site cannabis delivered by a licensed dispensary. Not everyone seems to mind, though, as one commenter on Instagram wrote that the lounge experience is "like going to a resturant but ordering grubhub" [sic].

Michigan is one of only eight states where regulations currently allow for the licensing of cannabis lounges. Alaska (the national leader, which officially legalized lounges statewide in a limited capacity in 2019), California (the first to open a licensed cannabis restaurant the same year), Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, Illinois, and New York are the others.

Though nationwide, options for cannabis lounging are still restricted, but that may be due to change now that COVID restrictions are lifting in many places.

But the concept of a cannabis lounge is far from brand new. Indeed, it has been key for weed consumers who don’t own or rent property where they are allowed to smoke or otherwise consume weed. That’s an issue that can impact everyone from seniors in assisted living situations to college students in dorms to public housing residents who technically reside on federal property. Regarding the latter: Late last year, the Biden administration affirmed its right to discriminate against cannabis consumers when it came to their access to subsidized housing.

Throughout the history of cannabis activism, the right to a space to consume has been a priority. Legendary San Francisco activist Dennis Peron opened the SF Cannabis Buyers’ Club in 1994, providing a much-needed space for both socializing and organizing within the community of HIV/AIDS activists.

Today, developers in Los Angeles’ WeHo neighborhood and Las Vegas may lead in enthusiasm over opening cannabis lounges. Vegas developers are already hyping an 8,500-square-feet lounge that will feature a splash pool and is set to open later this year. It makes sense that the tourist town would have the most interest in cannabis lounges. They can help provide visitors a place to consume preferable to them smoking out their hotel rooms — which is illegal for weed and tobacco consumers alike in Vegas.

Here's hoping Michigan soon has more lounge options to consume in a semi-public space with no worries. The state’s residents seem to be enjoying their cannabis rights up until now: They bought 182,000 pounds of adult-use pot in December, when recreational industry hit a record $1.8 billion in sales. 

 Follow Caitlin on Instagram, and catch her Spanish-language podcast Crónica on Spotify and Mixcloud. 

Caitlin Donohue
Caitlin Donohue is a Bay Area-raised, Mexico City-based cannabis writer and author of She Represents: 44 Women Who Are Changing Politics and the World. Her weekly show Crónica on Radio Nopal explores Mexican marijuana culture and politics in the prohibition era. Follow Caitlin on IG @byrdwatch.
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