For decades, marijuana has hardly been considered luxurious. After all, many folks were introduced to cannabis in a dingy basement at a friend’s house. But the forward-thinking city of West Hollywood is aiming to change all that. With the opening of the destination consumption lounge PleasureMed on Oct. 26, the adult playground of WeHo is well on its way to its stated goal of becoming the Amsterdam of America.
PleasureMed is the latest in a string of high-end cannabis businesses to open in the neighborhood. In 2022, partners including Woody Harrelson and Bill Maher opened The Woods, a lush tropical-themed consumption lounge featuring cabanas, koi ponds and private lockers where guests can store their stash. That same year, The Studio Cannabis Lounge opened atop The Artist Tree dispensaries.
More than earning the nickname “the Emerald Village,” WeHo boasts more dispensaries per square mile than any city in the world. It has also embraced cannabis in other ways. On Halloween, WeHo hosted the Harvest Haunt block party, billed as L.A.’s first licensed outdoor cannabis consumption event.
PleasureMed (7717 Santa Monica Blvd.) is the brainchild of Brian Robinson, owner of the iconic WeHo adult toy store The Pleasure Chest. For Robinson, stepping into the cannabis space is a natural evolution. “People are really mixing their sexual journey and fulfillment with cannabis,” Robinson says. “My own journey was started by experimenting in both sexuality and weed in college, as a lot of people do. So, even though I don’t really consider myself a cannabis smoker, I certainly linked it to my personal life, and I know a lot of people do.”
Featuring “6,500 square feet of botanical bliss,” the complex includes the PleasureMed Dispensary, which sells curated cannabis from companies like the woman-owned Apocalypze, and Artet, a family-owned business of spirits and mixers.
Upstairs is Irie, which serves food far superior to your typical munchies. With delicious, flavorful Southern inspired cuisine, innovative non-alcoholic cocktails, and an uber-laid-back, friendly staff, the whole restaurant is a feast for the senses (including a pleasant, but not overpowering, scent of cannabis). A knowledgeable weed sommelier known as a “flight attendant” helps diners find the perfect cannabis to enhance the experience — be it a joint with a pasta noodle tip, a THC infused spritzer, or a potent gummy. Customers must pay cash, separately, for the cannabis. If alcohol is one’s preferred vice, the lush outdoor back bar Hind serves craft cocktails along with food from Irie.
“It’s all designed in a way to make people feel safe,” Robinson says. “A lot of people don’t like using these kinds of products in public. But then they come up here and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I want to be a part of this, even though I wouldn’t normally do it.’ ”
But designing cannabis spaces for discerning adults can be tricky. TerraBloom carbon filters reduce the skunky weed smell, and PleasureMed’s layout is purposefully light and airy. “You’ll see a lot of Latin influences. You’ll see a lot of island influences. You just don’t feel like you’re in L.A.,” Robinson says. “Light was really important — seeing plants around you. So, we have big trees, fresh air. We have this huge skylight that stacks over another part of the building. So, when people walk in, even though it’ll never be smoky, you’ll still have a little bit of that smell. But people walk in underneath the skylight that’s open and they’re like — I see blue sky. There’s fresh air.”
The space has also been designed to comply with West Hollywood’s stringent regulations regarding consumption lounges. Alcohol and cannabis cannot be served together, nor can those spaces share a wall. That is why Irie is upstairs, while Hind is in the back on the first floor.
Despite these challenges for owners, Robinson hopes consumers at PleasureMed will feel nothing but chill. “You feel like you’re on holiday and just being up here for a couple of hours with us,” Robinson says, “you go home feeling like, ‘I just feel like I had a few days off.’”
A version of this story first appeared in the Nov. 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.