Ever find yourself downtown wishing you had a spot to blaze before heading to a game at Staples Center or a show somewhere nearby? Whether you live downtown, need a chill spot to take meetings or merely want somewhere to hang for a few hours, the Alchemy Lounge provides a new place to lay low.
This brand-new, members-only social club is a 420-friendly zone for guests from all walks of life, including artists and professionals, millennials and baby boomers, stoners and allies. While the Alchemy Lounge does not provide weed for its members, people are free to bring whatever cannabis products they like. If they need any sort of ganja gear — grinders, rolling papers, pipes, bongs or vape batteries — Alchemy Lounge has them covered.
“We're a vape lounge and event space,” explains Mskindness B, managing partner of Alchemy Lounge and founder of Elixirs by Kindness, a line of cannabis tinctures. The venue was officially launched in June, and has since had a calendar full of cannabis-themed events, from networking parties to pop-up shops to musical shows. “People can bring whatever they want, and of course we promote cannabis education,” Mskindness says. (Alcohol, however, is banned, with the exception of occasional, private events.)
Comedy Hour Gatherings happen on a weekly, monthly and one-time-only basis. The venue also offers events including Women in Cannabis Wednesdays, where “women entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry share their work/ideas,” a “420- and 710-friendly comedy show experience,” Cannabis Educational Dialogue series, “ganjasana” cannabis yoga and movie nights. Beginning Sept. 19, a musical residency sponsored by vape pen company Legion of Bloom will give out free vapes during performances by D.J. Williams' Shots Fired — a musical outfit led by D.J. Williams himself, the guitarist from Karl Denson's Tiny Universe. Each week the vape strains will correspond with the night's theme, like a 1970s night or 1990s hip-hop showcase.
This past spring, Williams was imprisoned on vacation in Abu Dhabi after airport personnel found a weed vape cartridge stashed in his luggage. After more than a month of allegedly enduring human rights abuses in several Emirati prisons, including solitary confinement, he says, Williams was finally deported back to the States. Based out of L.A., he got Legion of Bloom to sponsor his band's residency at the Alchemy Lounge.
“We're celebrating freedom in the state. In California, let's exercise our right to these brand-new [legalization] laws,” says Benjy Eisen, band manager for D.J. Williams' Shots Fired, noting the contrast with harsh cannabis policy in places like the U.A.E. “This venue [Alchemy Lounge] is the only one I know of that encourages cannabis consumption. Other venues permit it but this encourages it,” he adds.
“A cannabis brand is sponsoring a mainstream artist at a social club — this is the first time that's happening,” Mskindness says. “What the residency represents for us and how we see it benefiting the community is that it says, 'We stand behind you.' If someone gets in trouble in another industry, they lose sponsorship deals and support. But it's cool that [Williams has] garnered so much support after that. It's changing the stigma.”
People who commit cannabis “crimes” aren't real criminals, she adds. With the stigma around the plant beginning to dissipate, those involved in cannabis culture and industry are achieving higher regard. “The industry is full of beautiful, intelligent, talented people. I have two degrees and I use cannabis every day,” Mskindness says. “The lounge is meant to be a very upscale place.” For $50, members can buy monthly access; otherwise daily passes are $5 on weekdays and $10 on weekends.
And while there are plenty of programmed events, members also can hang out during the day. “They can come in, get on the Wi-Fi or listen to music while smoking a joint,” Mskindness says. “It's something the community was looking for, a place for people to sit down, roll a joint, talk to each other, come up with great ideas and establish budding friendships.”
And while the vibe is explicitly 420-friendly, the lounge also aims to be discreet. For instance, there's no photography allowed during lounge hours. With California's upcoming recreational marijuana legalization, anyone over 21 can consume cannabis, but not everyone has a place to do so in peace. Public consumption on the street is still illegal and many people can't smoke in their own homes, due to either apartment rules or fear that Child Protective Services will come knocking on the door. “We hope to legitimize and give the cannabis space an upscale image to show that in a social environment, people can hang out, consume, and what you're going to see is much more positive than what you'd see in a bar with alcohol,” says Mskindness. “As the law changes, you'll see an increase in the population that's public about their cannabis use. This gives them a safe space.”