The jungle-themed West Hollywood cannabis lounge is a must-see.
The cannabis consumption lounge that recently opened in a lush, tropical courtyard in West Hollywood is one of the most joyfully unique, absurdly captivating and mind-blowing places most of us mere mortals — i.e. those of us without a four-picture deal or Scrooge McDuck cartoon bags of money — could hope to find ourselves getting legally lit.
Equal parts tropical hideaway, Balinese retreat and hippie hangout by way of Laurel Canyon with a dash of Enchanted Tiki Room thrown in for good measure, Ganja Giggle Garden is a 5,000-square-foot sanctuary where soon-to-be-stoned visitors will find themselves taking things to the next level surrounded by jungle-level greenery, lurking Buddhas, a quartet of parrots, a glint of badger-sized koi, and three well-appointed cannabis cabanas (try saying that five times fast).
Ganja Giggle Garden is one of just two places to publicly partake in the L.A. area — the other, the Artist Tree Studio Dispensary Lounge, opened in April about a mile away.
Although it’s only been open since late October, this garden of earthly delights, located behind — and only accessible through — the Woods dispensary has actually been a work-in-progress for nearly two decades. That’s because Ganja Giggle Garden began life as the private courtyard of the Schoos Design studio (whose many hospitality projects include the Tao Asian Bistro locations in Las Vegas and New York City as well as the nearby Norah restaurant), which had its offices for 15 years in what’s now the dispensary. Schoos Design used the outdoor space to meet with clients and host occasional events.
Over the years, designer Thomas Schoos and business partner Michael Berman lovingly cultivated the canopy of green that currently dominates the space. Along the way, they built out several of the cabana-like outbuildings and added a menagerie of winged and finned creatures: parrots Lilly, Molly, Rio and George and a pond full of colorful koi, several of which are now more than 30 years old. When the company decided to downsize to new digs in 2020, Berman said there was interest from a partnership that had not only a city license in the works for a dispensary and on-site cannabis consumption lounge but also a strong desire to keep the garden and its inhabitants in place.
That partnership included actor and cannabis activist Woody Harrelson, comedian Bill Maher and Erba Markets dispensary founders Devon Wheeler and Jay Handal. (Retired tennis great John McEnroe would join the partnership later.) “What was the clincher for us is that Woody said, ‘I want this to all stay the same,’” Berman said.
And nearly 2½ years later, it is — but for the whole consumption lounge thing. Berman and Schoos have joined the partnership, and their firm designed both the dispensary and lounge spaces. The Great Palm Cockatoo George of the Woods serves as a sort of avian ambassador (you can follow him on Instagram at @georgeofthewoods), and then there are the koi. The named ones, including 32-year-old Torpedo, brother Gold (“He’s either 32 or 34,” Schoos said) and a gray and white butterfly koi named Dust, and the nameless (“I just call them all Flipper,” joked Handal) swim lazily around a partially submerged Buddha head.
In a recent group interview in the Treehouse cabana with Berman, Schoos and Wheeler, Harrelson described the partnership’s hunt for the right location. “I just knew it would have to be the perfect thing,” he said. “And we did go look at many different places, but it was never quite right. And then we walk in here, walk [around] outside, I meet these great characters and I was just like, ‘Oh my god, this is it!’ It had those birds, it had those fish.”
Design-wise, when it came to turning the private space into a consumption lounge, Schoos aim was to make it feel like a home, a sanctuary and a respite from the outside world, he and Berman explained. That meant creating a cozy, living-room-like feel inside the cabanas, using natural materials such as wool and rattan for the furniture and reclaimed wood for columns, flooring and stairs.
“In all the years I lived off and on in L.A.,” Harrelson said, “there was never a place I was just 1,000% psyched about. You know what I mean? But to be able to come here, hang in a space like this with people in L.A. and smoke a joint and talk, I mean, that’s pretty groovy.”
While Harrelson is biased on that point, let me confirm that this space is absolutely groovy and then some especially if you’re lucky enough to be hangin’ in the Treehouse. (More on how to do that below.)
Nestled high in the lush green canopy in the northwest corner at the back of the outdoor space and accessible via a spiral staircase straight out of the ‘70s, the Treehouse looks out over the verdant expanse, the koi pond, a fire pit and one of the other two private cabanas: a glass and white-curtained cube called the Think Tank that sits almost smack in the middle of the courtyard. “We call it that because it’s a perfect square,” Schoos said. “It’s a 10 by 10 by 10 and it’s all glass.” (The third cabana, the Zen Den, isn’t visible from this vantage point because it’s located directly beneath the Treehouse.)
Inside the cabanas — each of which can accommodate up to eight guests — are a mix of sofas, chairs and side tables. Woven throw rugs are on the floors and framed artwork on the walls. More often than not there’s a cross-legged Buddha perched in a corner. Large windows angle open, and massive glass doors turn indoors into outdoors with a smooth slide as state-of-the-art ventilation systems silently spirit smoke and vapor away.
As you might expect, kicking back in one of those party pods comes with a price (hourly rentals start at $100). What you might not expect is that there’s just as much fun to be had — or maybe even more, depending on how sociable a smoker you are — for no more than the cost of a pack of pre-roll joints.
That’s because any Woods dispensary purchase of $20 or more grants access to the garden’s common spaces. That means in addition to seeing all the bewitching flora and fauna up close, visitors can sit at a large rectangular table and consume any THC-infused edibles or beverages they’ve purchased or sip a cup of (non-infused) tea or cocoa from the tonic bar. (Smoking can only take place in the enclosed structures, but edibles can be consumed throughout the property.)
Across the courtyard from the tonic bar is an indoor/outdoor smoking space about the size of all three cabanas smooshed together and an eastern-facing glass wall that slides open. Dubbed the Lounge, it’s where people can cluster and communally consume their just-purchased pot products without reserving a cabana ahead of time. (No, you can’t bring your own. The Woods folks say state and city regulations prohibit on-site consumption of outside cannabis products.)
Eventually this room will be walled off to become part of a separate-but-related bar that serves alcohol (expected to open sometime early next year). But for now, it’s the rumpus room, the garden’s high-energy heartbeat and a place for stoner strangers to rub elbows, rip bongs and bond with their like-minded brothers and sisters.
It was in this pot pied-à-terre that I found myself partying twice during the consumption lounge’s first month in business. The first time I popped by, I fell in with a trio of dab-happy twenty-somethings in Comme des Garçons T-shirts and Aviator Nation hoodies who warmly welcomed a reporter with a notepad. Within minutes we were giggling, guffawing and chortling like fast friends, talking about nearby eateries (they’d just dined at Akuma Ramen & Sushi Bar next door) and engaging in a mostly pointless debate about whether an earthquake or a hurricane was a worse natural disaster.
A few nights later, I returned to the Lounge room with a friend from college, grabbed a piece of glass from the collection behind the tonic bar (you can borrow all manner of smoking paraphernalia including dab rigs, waterpipes, a Stündenglass gravity bong or a Storz & Bickel Volcano vaporizer free of charge in exchange for leaving your driver’s license with the budtender) and plopped down on a sofa next to a couple from San Diego named Blake and Lizette.
Big Bill Maher fans both, they’d stopped by to do a little preflight before heading off to a concert. Their weapon of choice was an elegant tabletop vaporizer called the Zenco Duo that allowed them to inhale cannabis vapor from something that looked like an artisanal highball glass.
By the time the pair bounced out to their concert, we’d chuckled about hash wizards, snort-laughed at the idea of a stoner take on Clue (“It was Colonel Mustard, with a bong in the conservatory”) and guffawed at great length at Blake’s spotty track record of trying to get the vape gizmo going. Both nights, I floated home grinning ear to ear.
The Woods’ Ganja Giggle Garden
8271 Santa Monica Blvd.
West Hollywood, Calif. 90046
Lounge hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Dispensary hours: 9 a.m. to 9:50 p.m. daily
Cabana rentals: $100 to $200 per hour
A little more than a month in at this point, Ganja Giggle Garden is still very much a work in progress. “We’re not 100% [finished] yet,” Schoos said during our Treehouse sitdown.
In addition to the bar project, he said plans include adding another set of double-decker cabanas on the far side of the koi pond opposite the Treehouse, adding more artwork (and at least one more Buddha) to the mix as well as some food offerings with an as-of-yet announced partner. “We’ve got something coming up,” Schoos said, “with an amazing food resource that does everything organic.” (Until those plans for cabana-side fare are finalized, visitors are allowed to bring in their own foodstuffs.)
But that doesn’t mean you should wait to experience the magic of this pot-smoker’s paradise. Quite the opposite. As soon as you’re finished reading this, I suggest you carve out a few hours of you time, book a rideshare (because being baked behind the wheel is as dangerous as it is stupid) and head to this reprobate’s respite in the heart of WeHo.
Whether it’s for a seven-friend sesh in the tops of the trees or a random run-in with vapor-guzzling strangers in the Lounge, experiencing Ganja Giggle Garden as it organically grows and takes shape is going to be balm for the stoner soul.