It’s no secret that Albuquerque has its share of dispensaries: Many current weed business owners say there are too many. But state-and-city sanctioned lounges to get your smoke on are somewhat rare. Known in bureaucratic-speak as “consumption areas,” smoking lounges were first allowed years ago under the state’s Medical Cannabis Program as a way for patients who couldn’t smoke at home but relied on relief from the plant. While some medical cannabis patients likely still rely on these “areas,” the handful I recently visited welcome all smokers of legal age. The New Mexico Cannabis Control Division has licensed almost half a dozen spots in Albuquerque, but only a few of them seem to be in operation.
Nearly all of my friends and acquaintances I’ve talked to about the concept of having a place to publicly puff were not sold on the idea. Some just laughed at the idea of going anywhere besides their own couch or patio to smoke. Others had concerns about being seen by employers or coworkers in or around a weed lounge. Others just didn’t feel comfortable being high in public. After visiting three different spots, I’ve come to the conclusion that cannabis smoking lounges seem more like a stop along the way and less of a final stop for a group of friends.
A few months ago, I agreed to meet a friend at Enchanted Botanicals in Nob Hill (3417 Central Ave SE Unit A, (505) 503-6046) for my first foray into lounge life. The location is a perfect spot for those who want to replace pre-dinner drinks with a puff and a hang. Or if you’re like one couple I spotted inside, maybe you can swing by after picking up a kid’s birthday cake to share a preroll. Although there were QR codes for neighboring food spots sprinkled around the lounge, Enchanted Botanicals lacked any refreshments without THC, aside from a water fountain and some disposable cups. Still, my smoking companion and I each enjoyed a couple puffs of a high-octane joint with some hash tucked in the middle, also known as a hash hole, before gossiping, joking and philosophizing for a good three hours. The lounge portion of the business is narrow but still sizable enough to fit a dab bar and several booths. After our eyes and brains cleared up, we picked up some takeout pizza across the street for our respective families and called it an early night. Unfortunately, the lounge at Enchanted Botanicals is temporarily closed until it gets things up to code with the city—but the dispensary is still open. An employee who recently answered the phone told me they plan to have it open again sometime next month, but the owner didn’t answer my calls and texts for more information.
About 20 minutes northeast of Nob Hill, at the intersection of Eubank and Menaul boulevards, sits Herban Oasis Apothecary and O Lounge (2308 Eubank Blvd NE, (505) 433-5347), which feels much more like a coffee shop than a dimly lit lounge. I invited the same friend to meet for another sesh several weeks after our first meeting, but this time we went with a more traditional preroll that packed a modest punch of 23% THC. The O Lounge offered a big TV on the wall, a bar to sit at, several couches and a handful of the types of tables you’d find at a more traditional coffee shop. We opted for a small, round table in the corner next to the large windows that let in abundant natural light. Herban Oasis offers a wide array of snacks and drinks, some are infused with THC while other offerings are the more standard coffee or soda. While there are a couple spots to grab a meal and chill out for a bit within walking distance, there’s not really many options to wait things out, forcing responsible smokers who don’t want to pay for a ride to sit tight for a while. Luckily, the employees were super friendly and the atmosphere was welcoming. Still, words to the wise: Get a ride or make carve out plenty of time and pull up a couch.
Just down the road from Herban Oasis is Lazy Daze (1812 Eubank Blvd NE, (505) 639-4291), a Texas-based company that puts an emphasis on coffee and coffee house culture. An old Winchell’s donut shop, the physical space at Lazy Daze is reminiscent of a bygone time when oldtimers would pony up to the bar and bitch about life over an old-fashioned donut and a cup of cheap coffee. I made a solo trip to Lazy Daze on a recent blustery Sunday morning with the intention of getting some work done. While I wasn’t necessarily unproductive, a joint and a latte are probably better accompaniments for updating your calendar or brainstorming than for, say, writing a guide to consumption lounges. The vanilla latte I got with my stubby half-gram preroll wouldn’t rival offerings from some of the city’s top-notch coffee shops, but it was sweet and warm (yes, just like Bob Marley’s partner used to lie in his arms) and a nice treat for a cold morning. The $10 for a coffee and a small joint seemed a little steep to me at first, but considering the extremely helpful and informative staff didn’t seem to care how long I stayed without another purchase, I later considered it a decent deal.
Before you go
It should go without saying that if you’re going to try out a consumption lounge, you should strongly consider how you’re going to get there and, more importantly, how you’re going to get home safely. Of course lounge newbies should also be prepared for at least a little bit of smoke.
Aside from those two issues, newcomers shouldn’t be scared to roll up to one of these joints with questions locked and loaded. Both dispensary and consumption lounge employees are generally more than happy to answer any questions. Also, keep in mind that these helpful employees are not supposed to let you leave with any leftovers that you consumed on site. That means, Cannabis Control Division Counsel Robert Sachs says, you don’t have to finish what you bought, but you can’t take what you didn’t finish—unless you’re a medical cannabis patient.
“For a qualified patient whose only option to consume cannabis legally would be in a cannabis consumption area, and to prevent them from having to constantly buy product, we did allow [patients to leave with leftovers],” Sachs tells The Rolling Paper. “But you can’t bring your homegrown product, for example, into a consumption area.”
So, be mindful of how much you can handle during one visit. It would be a shame to shell out cash for a monster blunt, only to have to leave most of it behind.
As far as on-site edibles go, keep in mind that they take a while to kick in and the effects last even longer than inhaling THC. Plus, not all of the lounges have been cleared by the New Mexico Environment Department to serve food products. If edibles are your thing, you’re on your own, because I don’t know, I didn’t go into a Burger King.