You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Port Hueneme closer to opening Wheelhouse, Ventura County's first cannabis consumption lounge

Ventura County Star 9/21/2022 Brian J. Varela, Ventura County Star

Ventura County’s first cannabis consumption lounge could open in Port Hueneme this fall. 

The City Council unanimously approved a conditional-use permit Monday for Wheelhouse cannabis dispensary to operate a consumption lounge adjacent to its West Channel Islands Boulevard location.

The council also approved a development agreement for the lounge. The agreement will go before the council for a final reading on Oct. 3.

If it's approved, the agreement makes way for the lounge to open in November, Wheelhouse CEO Zahur Lalji said.

While cannabis lounges exist throughout the state, including in West Hollywood and San Francisco, Wheelhouse’s lounge will be the first in the county if given final approval in October, Lalji said. 

City officials anticipate an increase in business.

“We’re pretty innovative,” Mayor Richard W. Rollins said Monday. “There will be people coming in from quite a distance I would suspect.”

Ojai is also weighing whether to open lounges. At its June 14 meeting, the Ojai City Council considered allowing cannabis lounges at three existing dispensaries. The council directed staff to research modifying municipal code to allow the areas for on-site consumption.

Ojai city staff has yet to return the item to the council, said interim Assistant City Manager Robin Godfrey by email Tuesday. No date has been set for possibility of lounges to go before the council again, she added. 

Tony Stewart, Port Hueneme's community development director, said a second dispensary is in the process of opening a cannabis lounge. Its conditional-use permit will likely go before the council by the end of the year, he said. 

The idea for cannabis lounges first gained momentum in Port Hueneme in December when the council directed staff to draft an ordinance amending municipal code to allow cannabis lounges. 

City officials said the lounges would help the city’s revenue-generating cannabis dispensaries stay competitive with those planned in Oxnard and Ventura. The ordinance was adopted by the council in March and allows up to five lounges in the city.

Cannabis aficionados will have to purchase a membership to visit the Wheelhouse’s consumption lounge. 

At $100 a month, patrons can visit the lounge for a total of 30 hours. The $200 VIP membership allows unlimited hours worth of visits. Guests can also buy a $5, 30-minute long pass.

Wheelhouse will sell as many memberships as requested. However, the lounge will be limited to about 42 patrons at one time, Lalji said. 

By requiring memberships, staff can monitor visitors’ intoxication levels and control the number of people in the lounge, Stewart said. Staff will stop serving an individual if they appear to be too intoxicated.

More: Suspect in fatal Oxnard home invasion case linked to double shooting in Port Hueneme

As part of the membership, guests will have to use a ride service if lounge staff determines they are too intoxicated to drive, Stewart said. If a patron violates the policy, the individual will be banned and staff will notify the Port Hueneme Police Department. 

Other lounge restrictions include:

  • Operating hours will be between 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Cannabis will be served in single-serving amounts.
  • Outside cannabis and paraphernalia are prohibited.
  • Alcohol is not allowed.

Wheelhouse will be required to pay 5% of the lounge’s annual gross revenue in taxes. According to a staff report, Wheelhouse expects to pay the city about $49,000 in its first year, $73,000 the next year and $95,000 in its third year of operation. 

Brian J. Varela covers Oxnard, Port Hueneme and Camarillo. He can be reached at brian.varela@vcstar.com or 805-477-8014. You can also find him on Twitter @BrianVarela805.

This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Port Hueneme closer to opening Wheelhouse, Ventura County's first cannabis consumption lounge

AdChoices
AdChoices
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon