The city’s first high-end pot ‘boutique’ – with a $100 membership fee – adds to a growing industry, but is Harvest signaling an end to the days of ragtag hangouts? Anyone with a medical marijuana recommendation from a physician can browse Harvest on Geary’s minimalist dispensary – but entry into their private Cannabis Lounge will be only for those San Franciscans who can afford it.
Billed as the city’s first high-end pot “boutique”, Harvest will soon be home to “California’s only private cannabis consumption lounge,” where members will be able to relax in mid-century modern chairs and leather settees while watching TV or playing chess, surrounded by art deco-style wood paneling lit up by chandeliers. The monthly membership fee for the Cannabis Lounge, scheduled to open sometime in September, will be $100. There will also be “an on-site concierge”, according to a press release.
Marty Higgins, Harvest’s owner and an Oakland real estate investor, told the San Francisco Chronicle that approved members would be required to adhere to “certain standards” though he promised to be “as inclusionary as possible”. In an interview with the Guardian on Wednesday, he said that the Cannabis Lounge would have “an industry standard screening process”. California cannabis has been touted as a multibillion dollar industry for years. But Harvest and its private lounge might signal an end to marijuana’s early days of ragtag hangouts.
Shona Gochenaur, a marijuana advocate, fondly remembers the “good old days” in the clubs of a decade ago. “You felt like you were in someone’s apartment. It was always packed… someone would light a huge joint for everyone, and you’d leave pain-free,” she says. “What we have is a takeover… patients are being pushed out hard.” It used to be sick and disabled people in Cannabis Lounge, she added, but “now it’s mostly able-bodied people who aren’t looking at death”. “It’s OK to have business, but what’s not OK is these stores pushing out cultural centers.”
Even some of Higgins’ fellow pot entrepreneurs are wistful. Nick Smilgys is the co-founder and a former partner in Flow Kana, a farm-to-bowl startup with an emphasis on heirloom strains of marijuana. “I think Silicon Valley dollars and culture are stealing the soul of cannabis,” he said. It’s a very different scene at Harvest from a year and a half ago, when Harvest was still the Hemp Center.