Placeholder Image photo credit: Anthony Quintano/flickr

Last week Cotati gave the green light to Sonoma County’s first cannabis consumption lounge.

Mercy Wellness was the first medical cannabis dispensary in Cotati - and now they'll have the first cannabis lounge.

Not just in Cotati, but in all of Sonoma County, said Mercy’s owner Brandon Levine.

"Today we stand at the cusp of yet another evolution," Levine said.

The new cannabis lounge will take over the former Grav South Brewing company storefront - adjacent to Mercy’s current retail storefront on Redwood Drive.

Noise and odor pollution are the cited major concerns for the new consumption lounge.

Cotati planner JP Harries said he used two cannabis events at the site as tests for what might be expected when the lounge is operational.

"There was simply no odor coming from the event," Harries said. "As I walked the perimeter, I could actually smell Burger King more than anything."

And those tests, Harries said, Mercy passed.

"There were no police calls, no complaints at all that we received, and so we felt that the events were a successful test of what that consumption lounge would would be operating like at, at maximum capacity," Harries said.

The biggest concern though: how will patrons of the lounge leave by car from the cannabis lounge? Levine said Mercy has a plan in place.

"We will identify whether or not they need a ride, and we have a ride share program that will be at our cost," Levine said. "We'll make sure that people get home safe."

In its project description Mercy offered limited details on its partnership with Uber to offer free rides to patrons in need.

Levine said Mercy is also pairing with researchers at UC San Diego and with the California Highway Patrol to study the effects of cannabis consumption on drivers; and he says all patrons will receive a “Driving High is a DUI pamphlet”.

Despite apprehension about a first of its kind project, Cotati City Council members noted Mercy’s long-standing good reputation, and unanimously approved the cannabis lounge.

Levine said the first focus for him and Mercy’s staff is safety.

"Our goal is to get people to start low and go slow," Levine said.

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