Consumption lounges slow to gain traction under restrictive policies, difficult biz model – MiBiz: West Michigan Business News

Recreational cannabis sales have been legal in Michigan for nearly three years, but establishing public spaces to legally consume weed is still in its infancy.

The first two state-qualified “consumption lounges” opened this year: Hot Box Social in Hazel Park and Kalkushka Lounge in Kalkaska. Michigan is among seven states to allow legal cannabis consumption lounges. Nineteen municipalities across Michigan have opted into allowing these businesses to varying degrees, and two municipalities have not specified whether they will allow the use, according to the latest state data.

However, consumption lounges face more hurdles than the average hospitality business, particularly by restricting cannabis sales on the premises. Customers need to bring their own product to the establishment, or they can have it delivered from a dispensary. They’re effectively BYOB bars.

Opening — and generating revenue from — a consumption lounge is generally difficult unless it’s attached to a dispensary, said Trent McCurren, co-founder of The WellFlower Group, a vertically integrated cannabis company with dispensaries in Manistee and Ypsilanti. 

“For it to really make sense, you need it to be right next to your dispensary because it’s hard to make money in your consumption lounge because you can’t sell alcohol, and people

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