From the outside, it looked like a typical upscale cocktail party. Tucked on a Venice walk street just a stone’s throw from Superba, this fête was complete with an outdoor bar, food stylishly served in Chinese takeout containers and, at the middle of the dining room, a buffet.
Centerpieces constructed from mounds of weed nuggets were displayed in glass jars and surrounded by platters of “adult” brownies and carefully placed displays of cannabis breath mints, macarons and chocolates. At the kitchen counter, a man in a suit jacket and collared shirt taught a meandering group of visitors how to dab.
The scene was set for the kickoff event of Privée Social Club, a members-only cannabis club that curates high-end weed products, puts on cannabis-centric parties and even provides 24-hour concierge services for an “ultra-VIP” clientele. The evening was hosted by Saline Ossman, a weed industry veteran and self-proclaimed owner of the Westside’s “oldest and most iconic delivery service,” along with Olivia Alexander, the “millennial voice” who founded Privée with Ossman last year.
Used to quietly operating under the radar and in the shadows, Ossman said that since Proposition 64 passed in November — green-lighting recreational weed in California — Privée is ramping up efforts to build its membership and create a space for members to open their minds “to a new adventure in an old paradigm.”
“We can come out of that green closet and we can talk about it, all we want now,” Ossman said.
Earlier this month, L.A. voters passed Measure M and brought recreational cannabis even further out of its shroud of secrecy. The proposition implements a system of taxation for weed and gives the L.A. City Council oversight to develop regulations for the local cannabis industry. The city is currently determining what these rules will include — everything from product packaging requirements to enforcement techniques — and is expected to settle on a plan by September of this year.
One of the most controversial issues still up for debate is the decriminalization of weed home delivery, which is still illegal in the city of L.A. Many cannabis companies — including Privée — continue to stake much of their business on the practice anyway (and become well-versed in legal loopholes).
“There’s beautiful ways around it [delivery laws], and that’s why you have good lawyers,” Ossman said.
As weed’s old-school, edgy allure as a black-market good continues to disappear and it becomes increasingly acceptable for the masses, many businesses have started to distinguish themselves through promises of exclusivity and product excellence. Often, these products feature deluxe packaging.
Beboe, a luxury weed line that debuted earlier this month, sells top-of-the-line vaporizers and edible pastilles (basically, breath mints) in rose-gold packaging, and has been referred to by The New York Times as “the Hermés of marijuana.” There’s also Chroncierge, a SoCal-based, members-only “privilege club” that produces its own branded strains of cannabis and promises “exotic and artisanal selections.” AuBox, a delivery service that brings stoners throughout California a carefully curated box of cannabis each month, caters to “hard workers, jetsetters and those who expect the best.”
“There’s a special echelon of clients that absolutely needs exclusivity,” Ossman said. “They really don’t want to be seen going into a dispensary, when there are storefront places you can get it legally. They still don’t want to be seen that way.”
That’s where Ossman’s social club (and its Eyes Wide Shut–style marketing appeal) comes into play. The club promotes “discovery, education and just a little bit of hedonism” on its website, and to join, prospective members must fill out an online application to be reviewed by a committee. Applicants must also list the name of two people they know who are already in the Privée club.
Once accepted, members pay an annual fee of $300, $500 or $1,000, depending on how much swag or how many specialty services they want access to. In addition to this one-time payment, they shell out money to get cannabis products delivered either on a weekly or monthly basis. Members have access to order from Privée’s “vault” of goodies, which includes waxes, edibles and specialty items such as the Lit Kit, which is intended for a ladies night in and includes a THC/CBD bath bomb, single joint and chocolate weed heart.
“That’s a date with yourself like nobody’s business,” Ossman said.
Top-tier Privée ballers also have access to the club’s 24-hour concierge service, available on-demand to offer guidance as to what type, strain or amount of cannabis to cinsume depending on your individual needs.
Like most social clubs, however, Privée was built around private parties, where members can mingle, talk unabashedly about weed use and maybe even learn how to pair weeds with wines. C.J. Gronner, a longtime Venice blogger and a guest at last week’s event, said although she personally doesn’t seek the exclusivity of a club like Privée (she says she would buy a joint at 7-Eleven if she could), she’s seen the demand for discretion first-hand. Gronner writes about music and has spent a lot of time traveling with bands, she said, where she’s witnessed many a publicist or support staff actively hide their weed use.
“They’re all smokers,” she said. “Back at their motel room you better believe they’re sparking up a joint or whatever, but they never feel like they can let anybody know about it.”