Los Angeles’s most ambitious cannabis consumption lounge since the Original Cannabis Cafe debuted in 2019 opens today, October 24, in West Hollywood. Owned and operated by Brian Robinson, PleasureMed sits directly across the parking lot from Robinson’s 51-year-old adult boutique the Pleasure Chest. After spending decades operating the iconic sex shop, Robinson is positioned to create another neighborhood destination.
PleasureMed, which includes two restaurants (Irie and Hind), a consumption lounge, and a ground-floor dispensary, is a safe space to explore cannabis, dining, and sex-positivity in Southern California’s historically queer center. Robinson knew the neighborhood’s demand for cannabis from his interactions with Pleasure Chest customers who purchased pipes and bongs from the smoke shop area. “We knew we had a crowd that was very into [cannabis]. Plus, there’s a level of respect that runs through our [Pleasure Chest] staff,” says Robinson. “Most of all, I want people to walk in and feel like they belong, feel like this is the right place for you, and to get high in public.”
The 6,500-square-foot facility is impossible to miss from Santa Monica Boulevard. At PleasureMed, Robinson is creating an environment where customers can experience something new with cannabis, drinks, and dining. “I want to bring glamour to shopping for weed,” says Robinson. “An experience to go out, sit down on [Hind’s] patio, or go upstairs [to Irie] and chill out for the afternoon. It’ll feel like you’re on holiday.”
It took Robinson six years to complete the permitting and construction of PleasureMed. The process included securing highly coveted cannabis licenses from the City of West Hollywood, adding a second story to the building, and finding the right staff to bring Robinson’s playful, genre-bending vision to life.
Studio UNLTD took the vacant single-story building and constructed it into a two-story psychedelic funhouse with 13-foot ceilings, tiled floors, and large vintage-style metal windows that overlook Santa Monica Boulevard. After the sun sets, animated projections created by Optical Animal and Robinson flash onto the building’s huge facade. PleasureMed uses a filtration system with TerraBloom carbon filters to limit smoke inhalation, which is a state-mandated requirement.
Upon entering PleasureMed, diners and imbibers can explore the apothecary-themed dispensary inspired by Robinson’s trip to Cuba or enter either restaurant. Food and alcohol are served on a covered patio at Hind, which sits on the ground floor. (Cannabis is not available at Hind as alcohol and smoking are prohibited in the same space by California law.)
Upstairs is Irie, Jamaican patois for “everything is alright.” Pass by the staircase mural painted by artist Pablo Sison to find seating along the horseshoe-shaped and marble-topped bar, a traditional dining room with custom-made banquettes and tables, a decadent private dining room with an elongated table, and a mauve-colored lounge with low tables and comfortable couches. Cannabis can be purchased for on-site consumption from a designated “flight attendant;” no outside cannabis is allowed on the premises.
Irie and Hind’s food menu was developed by Wes Whitsell as a consulting chef following his departure from Hatchet Hall. Whitsell also set up the kitchen and brought in Hatchet alums chefs Armando Aguilar and David Vatran to run the show. The food menus are the same at both restaurants, with pizzas, salads, and a saucy heritage chicken with Damson plums, capers, olives, and oregano. The jerk fried quail with mustard frill greens packs some heat from Aleppo pepper but calms down a bit with tomato aioli. Desserts include bread pudding flavored with sesame, halva, and creme anglais.
The zero-proof cocktails at Irie are worth trying. The Yellow Brick Road is made with coconut water, lemon, ginger, and turmeric, while the Souls Embrace cocktail can be made with or without tequila and includes Aperol, watermelon, agave, lemon, chile powder, and firewater.
Though the pandemic slowed down the pace of cannabis consumption lounge openings in West Hollywood, the city currently has a total of three within its borders. The Original Cannabis Cafe (formerly Lowell Cafe) launched this new arm of hospitality in Southern California in 2019 but has not reopened since closing in March 2020. Woody Harrelson’s the Woods, which opened in October 2022, and Artist Tree, which opened in April 2022, continue to thrive. West Hollywood will have a total of 16 cannabis consumption lounges when all license holders eventually open for business.
PleasureMed dispensary is open daily at 7733 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA 90046 daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. Irie and Hind’s hours are 5 p.m. until 11 p.m. Head to Irie and Hind’s Resy page for a reservation.