Medical-Marijuana "Vapor Lounge" in West Valley Allows Patients to Toke Up, Rent Bongs and Hang Out

Categories: Weed

lounge bongs 1.jpg
For two bucks, patients can rent high-quality glass bongs -- which they can use in the lounge.

On Thursday afternoon, about a dozen members were at the lounge. One puffed on a blunt while most used bongs or pipes. Members chatted and joked among each other as they smoked. It's "Cheers" with weed.

One patient at the bar held a large bong, using a gas torch to heat up a bowl containing "wax," a marijuana resin, until it glowed red.

"You can't have this at home, especially with kids around," he says of the high-tech bong after taking a hit. "It's an easier environment to smoke into."

Small events have been held at the lounge, and pro-pot groups like Moms for Marijuana have used it as a meeting place.

Smoking isn't allowed in any Arizona bar that we know of. But again, this is a private lounge, for members only. We have no idea if the concept is truly legal under the Medical Marijuana Act or other state laws, but Hayes exudes confidence. He's had police stop at the lounge a couple of times; he says he told the officers they can't go past the screen just inside the front door unless they have medical-marijuana cards, and they went away.

We asked Hayes if he and his partners might be considered partially responsible if an accident happens after someone leaves the lounge and drives while impaired.

"It's similar to a bar," he answers. "If you close your eyes in here, I'm calling you a cab."

The law doesn't prohibit patients from driving with marijuana in their systems, but does prohibit driving while impaired. The situation is similar to driving after drinking a couple of beers or glasses of wine -- legal, unless the driver is impaired to the "slightest degree." A major difference, though, is that booze-consuming drivers could be prosecuted for a DUI with a BAC of .08 or above, while the law has no such threshold for marijuana use.

Neither the lounge's business model, nor that of the cannabis clubs, have been declared illegal by any court. State Attorney General Tom Horne deemed the clubs to be illegal back in August of 2011. He sued in Maricopa County Superior Court with the hopes of getting a judge to rule in his favor. The case ended instead with a settlement that merely kept a couple of clubs closed.

However, Montgomery, the county attorney, has prosecuted successfully several principals of cannabis clubs, including one managed by Al Sobol, the high-profile marijuana marketer we wrote about in a cover story last year. With the owners of state-authorized dispensaries now calling for the closure of the clubs, it's tough to predict whether Hayes' dream of a statewide franchise of coffeeshop-esque vapor lounges will ever come true.

But for now, the flagship lounge on Dunlap is no pipe-dream -- it's a concrete example of the revolutionary change in how Arizonans view the use of marijuana.

After we left the lounge, we wandered into the dive bar next door in the same strip mall, the Amber Inn. Just for grins, we ask one of the old-timers nursing a beer what he thought of the "marijuana bar" next door.

"It doesn't bother me," he says. "Why would it?"



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29 comments
squash
squash

Lol, looks like the dude in the picture just took/is about to take a dab.

Vapor
Vapor

Just a few things about the article, my business and my reasons for doing what I do.
I didn't agree to do this article as an "in your face" to Tom H or Bill M, not at all.
Tom H filed a complaint against the compassion clubs, one of which I had previously been affiliated with, ACC. In that complaint were very specific sections that outlined how he felt these businesses were operating outside the guidelines of the AMMA. He had also made public statements to the media regarding the operating policies of the 2811 club. "If they allowed the patients and caregivers to bring their own medicine, share it with each other and if they charged a regular door fee or cover charge like every other bar or similar type business did, then I would support it."

So we simply took what he said, looked at what was written in his complaints against the compassion clubs and reverse engineered the business around the defense of the business in a court of law.
It wasn't an "in your face" but more of a "thank you". The more court cases that are filed and settled, the more clear the boundaries become for our very new MMJ state. Just like Ray said in the article, he couldn't tell you one way or the other if the business model was legal, it's hard to tell with some of the compassion clubs and Farmer's Market's out there today. A close look at the law quickly reveals lots and lots of "gray area" that will simply have to defined in courts. Until that happens individuals like myself will continue to look at other states for case precedence, we will listen intently when our elected legal guru's such as Tom Horne speak to the media about anything relating to the mmj industry, and we will apply it ;)

The subject of my felony charges seems to pop up when the other party has nothing else factual to say, funny how that works. So once again, yes I have more than one felony charge, "felonies" if you will and all of them are for marijuana possession or cultivation. No violent crimes, no white collar crimes plea bargained down to misdemeanors, nothing other than some simple harmless marijuana "crimes" and I use the word "crimes" loosely. I have learned a thing or two about the law since my 1st and only visit to ADC and the businesses I operate now do in fact quite often push the boundaries of ARS 28.1.  simply because those lines have been continuously blurred by the powers that be via a few failed court cases and an open disdain for the industry itself. The only reason I have any of those felony charges is because I didn't know enough at the time to fight them and relied on a public defender. Well, several public defenders. That won't happen again. Pro Se allllll day!!

Now back to a few of the other things not mentioned in the article. Let me just go ahead and say it for the record, we do not sell marijuana or marijuana related products. the law is very black and white as to who can do what, definitions have been created and are being enforced by local PD's and prosecuted by the AG and his team so you better pay attention to this part people. DO NOT SELL POT if you are not a dispensary, you CAN go to jail. However, much like most major industries there are avenues within the guidelines that you can use to create a successful business. 

That being said, the people in law enforcement should also start taking a step back before running up on businesses that are in fact legally operating businesses well within the guidelines of the AMMA and ARS 28.1. One such example is the raid that Ray Stern mentioned in this article at AZCS. No charges were ever filed against me. People came up with a variety of "reasons" why but let me go ahead and clear the air on that as well. I'm still waiting to sit down with whoever is in charge of the case now, assumingly Tom Horne's office and discuss just what the problem with a legally structured collective or co-op is ??

 AZCS was by far the most legal option for any patient that couldn't or simply didn't want to grow at their own location. There was never a commercial sale of anything marijuana  or marijuana related. AZCS also, to date, has donated more back to the communities of Arizona than every compassion club, collective, co-op, group, affiliation or partnership of any kind COMBINED! The only group that even came close was in fact AZDHS themselves during a canned food drive contest. So to say that we were not acting within the spirit or guidelines of the AMMA is far fetched at best, in my legal opinion.

As far as the lounge locations go, we have locations that are working directly with dispensaries in their area to supply services and products that the dispensary themselves may not be able to or want to for that matter.
We are working with dispensaries, not against them.

If anyone has any questions, feel free to stop by the lounge, just make sure you bring your medical card.

Bill Hayes

jammerk65
jammerk65

tucsonmedicalmarijuana.org....join us today! you wont regret it!

phoenixmedicalmariju
phoenixmedicalmariju

Stop patronizing these businesses run by convicted felons like billy Hayes. He stole this whole business from Jamie Jamison anyway.

Start going to legal dispensaries anyway and say legal. If you're caught at places like this when they get raide you will lose your medical license forever.

Steer clear.

John Morgan
John Morgan

the lounge is cool but i still prefer to smoke at home, i dont want to get pulled over after i leave

Gilbert Pac Garcia
Gilbert Pac Garcia

i agree..why put this out there if they've done nothing wrong...they have their card..let them be...go after murderers, molesters, and others doing worse...

fireserphent
fireserphent

You know this won't end well. It won't be long before Sheriff Joe and Co. bust down this guy's door, smash everything inside, scoop it up and place it in "evidence bags" and then drop the charges. I hope Bill does well.

Chris Smith
Chris Smith

Chase the tweekers and child molestors and stop going after innocent smokers.

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

Unfortunately, the "Reefer Madness" that Montypoodle spews, does get absorbed by people.  A friend told me that she was concerned her  19 yo college daughter said she was thinking about trying pot.  The Mom was FREAKED!

My first question was "She 19 and in college?  Why did she think you needed to know?" (well, 2 questions..)

My next question was "why are you so worried?"

She repeated the reefer madness stuff about going insane, catching disease, etc.

Then I floored her, when I said "10 to 1, you see people that have smoked atlease a little almost every time you leave the house.  And Obama and Clinton both admit smoking pot, and GW Bush admits he was into Coke."

(deer in headlights look then followed....)

WhoKnows
WhoKnows topcommenter

This is a good idea.

And unless MontyPoodle signs up for a MMJ card, he can't even see the inside!

MandyMountain
MandyMountain

Right on, Bill. Sure hope your venture is successful. You're one of us, the people who have paid the dues over cannabis. You deserve success and vindication. You deserve an apology, too, but I wouldn't wait on that.

ExpertShot
ExpertShot topcommenter

I'm guessing that the Veterans clubs out there could easily set up their sites for "lounge" activity.  Lots of Vets have medical cannabis cards! 

shadeaux14
shadeaux14

It's because of Horne(y) and Montgomery that the clubs came into being in the first place. It took almost two years before these two crusaders had their pee-pee's whacked enough to allow the first, and still only, dispensary to open in Phoenix. If it hadn't been for the clubs, people unable to cultivate would have had to go on taking the ineffective poison the medical profession pushes instead of an EFFECTIVE natural substance. 


davelog
davelog

If they're setting fire to plants in there, it's not a vapor lounge, it's a smoking lounge.

A minor distinction, you may say, but vaping is a common term for using an electronic cigarette in lieu of smoking tobacco - a new-ish technology that's saving lives left and right and is fighting for its life against the FDA, Big Tobacco, and Big Pharma right now. Nothing against the MMJ users, but vaping has a hard fight already without having this stigma tossed on top of it.

At the very least, provide MMJ vaporizers instead of bongs so you'll be factually accurate in naming the place... but a name change would benefit many.

jammerk65
jammerk65

tucsonmedicalmarijuana.org....join us today!

david_saint01
david_saint01 topcommenter

lol love how he rubs it all over Monty pugs face...

HerbNerd
HerbNerd

@squash I was prepping for the dab, nail ready but the photographer wanted me to wait a minute :(

One_Pro_Se
One_Pro_Se

@phoenixmedicalmariju get over the "felony" thing already geez no one cares! My felonies are for cultivation, nothing else. So if you want to slam me for growing cannabis and helping patients prior to prop 203 passing go ahead. Yeah I did it. Yeah I broke the law. Yeah I have felonies. Yeah I can still work in the industry. Yeah you hate it. Last but not least, yeah, u don't matter to me anyway. And your jamie comment was pretty laughable as well. Jamie dissolved his partnership with nick and I. Well u don't get to leave a partnership and take the name of the biz and logo with you. We tolerate that guy using our name but comments like yours are going to bring that to an end quickly. Jamie can bad mouth me to anyone who listens, I could care less. He's vapor, like you buddy. Your false statements above clearly show everyone you have no clue what your talking about. No patient has EVER lost their card due to accquisition of marijuana, not one! My raid video is public, patients were present. We had police come in the current spot on dunlap to legally trespass jamie j from the property as a matter of fact (and public record) patients blazing up in the lounge. Police simply did their job and left. See, when you do things right, when you take your time and do your homework... you succeed. "You can hate me now, cause I won't stop now."@phoenixmedicalmariju @phoenixmedicalmariju

One_Pro_Se
One_Pro_Se

@John Morgan we sell lots of retail and niche items. I can give you a list of reasons to come in longer than your bong, and none of them involve med use. What I'm saying is they need a reason to pull you over, and simply being at the lounge isn't a viable one. This has already been discussed with the guys on our beat from the phoenix pd.

We also allow "supporting members" which can be NON cardholders to come with a regular member for the purposes of the designated driver. ;)

anything else?


One_Pro_Se
One_Pro_Se

@WhoKnows we would happily invite him in! It is exactly what he said the 2811 club wasn't, a "affordable cover, let the patients bring their owns meds, and let them share amongst themselves."

In his complaint to the state he also outlined very specific things that made the clubs illegal, those don't happen here.

MandyMountain
MandyMountain

@shadeaux14 Not so: caregivers and patients have been networking the past couple of years. We already have good methods of producing and distributing cannabis even if they shut down the dispensaries. Also, notice there is only one dispensary open here in Maricopa County? That's just enough to eventually put a halt to legal growing by patients and caregivers in the area, but not enough to provide for all of the patients who need the product. That's a nicely symbiotic relationship between the authorities and that one, lonely dispensary.

azvaporlounge
azvaporlounge

@davelog we have extreme Q's, volcano's, pen vapes, eclipse vaporizers, and phantom's galore, same rental price as any piece of glass. For new patients in AZ we offer a unique service, they can try before they buy. A new bong from Bent Glass can easily hit the $200 mark quickly, add an oil burning or wax burning setup and now your talking $400 plus for a niece setup. But what happens when you get home and decide it may not be the best piece for you?? At the lounge you can try ANY piece made by Bent Glass and several other local glass blowers before you go next door to PB and buy it ;)

Also, we allow, well we encourage trading amongst members at any of our facilities. A great service to the patients in AZ when they are limited by so few operational dispensaries.

azvaporlounge
azvaporlounge

@david_saint01 Actually the idea was first mentioned by Bill M. when speaking of Al Sobol's place, the 2811 club. Bill M. said if there was a place that charged no cover or a more reasonable cover charge similar to that of other similar type businesses (ie. bar, cigar bar, etc) and the facility allowed members to give each other marijuana for free, without exchanging anything of value, then he would support it 100%.

Bill H. and his partners simply took a page from Marc Emery's playbook and tried to form a cannabis community center so to speak, it quickly evolved into what you see today upon entering the doors, a great f'n time for mmj users!!

and ps. we love your pic ;)

Bnbk
Bnbk

@azvaporlounge @davelog I hope you have some methods in place for sterlizing the bongs,being flu season and all. I wouldn't be suprised if Montgomery and the rest of the neo-cons try to shut you down by claiming some kind of threat to public health. BTW,I voted for and support peoples right to use MMJ,even though I myself don't use it.

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