Pulling up to Ceylon House in Burtonsville, an unincorporated community in Montgomery County, you might think you’re about to head to the doctor’s office.
The building has the nondescript brick-façade of a medical complex. In fact, a dentist is one of the occupants of the building.
But Ceylon House isn’t a place people go for traditional medicine. Once you open the door, multicolor glass bongs greet you on your left, a DJ is pumping out reggae music and the distinctive smell of marijuana fills your nostrils.
The establishment is Maryland’s first cannabis café, a place where people can gather, and smoke weed legally without being relegated to their homes.
“I’m constantly in pain, and so I don’t really go out at all,” said Sherry White, a medical marijuana patient from Montgomery County. “I really like this. It’s a place to socialize and relax and take your medicine as well.”
Cannabis cafes aren’t a new phenomenon. Most people might know them from the shops made famous in Amsterdam, but only six states have made designated-use areas legal in the United States.
Colorado, one of the first states to legalize marijuana, saw a need for the cafes as pot tourists started flocking to the state.
“Tourists can’t legally use cannabis when they go back to their hotel or out on the street,” said Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. ”There needs to be a privately-owned, state-licensed facility where these individuals who may simply be traveling through the state have the opportunity to use the cannabis that they’ve legally purchased while staying there.”
Now that recreational marijuana is legal in 21 states, the idea of cannabis cafes is gaining steam. Some states are even considering allowing the cafes to act more like bars by selling food and hosting bands.