Can you smoke a joint at the Hollywood Bowl? And other burning weed questions answered

A photo illustration featuring the Hollywood Bowl.
(Los Angeles Times)

Several months ago, as part of a first-timer’s guide to visiting L.A. dispensaries, I asked canna-curious readers to send in questions about navigating the wild and woolly world of weed in Southern California. Here, in a nod to the upcoming 4/20 observance of all things herbal, are answers to a handful of the best queries that have rolled in to date.

The topics tackled here range from social sesh options for retirees (high tea, anyone?) to what happens when dog meets stash (nothing good) with stops at LGBTQ-run dispensaries and the Hollywood Bowl along the way.

When we go to the Hollywood Bowl, there is a smoking area. Can I fire up a joint there? — A.B.

A view of the Hollywood Bowl shell and stage from the seating area.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic manages the Hollywood Bowl but doesn’t own the property, according to a representative for the organization.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

You might be surprised to find out that smoking is actually allowed in not just one but three designated areas at the Hollywood Bowl — all of them closer to the venue’s parking lot than to the stage. You also might be surprised to learn that the house rules and code of conduct posted on the Hollywood Bowl website currently don’t differentiate between smoking tobacco and smoking cannabis. A slim glimmer of hope to be sure, but because California law makes it perfectly legal for a private property owner to either permit or prohibit cannabis consumption, I decided to take our reader’s burning question to the folks who manage the venue — the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

That the L.A. Phil manages — but doesn’t actually own — the property turns out to be a key distinction. That’s because, as a representative for the organization pointed out in her response to me, the Hollywood Bowl is actually owned by Los Angeles County. Because that makes it public — not private — property, cannabis use at the Hollywood Bowl would technically violate state law.

Those technicalities aside, I took one more run at the question and asked the L.A. Phil representative what would happen if an otherwise law-abiding concertgoer were caught puffing on a preroll in one of the designated (tobacco) smoking areas.

“If someone was smoking a joint in one of the designated areas,” the rep replied in an email to The Times, “one of the house staff or security would ask them to stop.”

Rules are rules, of course, but that hasn’t stopped generations of Bowl-goers from firing up on the premises. So, if you’re planning to spark one (or more) in honor of Willie Nelson’s 90th birthday (which is being celebrated with a pair of concerts at the venue on April 29 and 30), plan accordingly.

I’m looking for other retired boomers to smoke and spend some time with. Where can I meet other boomer stoners in Los Angeles? — J.H.

Strawberries and cream in an antique china bowl next to a menu for high tea.
The Artist Tree Studio Dispensary Lounge’s high tea, an event that launched in April and is set to return in June, feels tailor-made for baked boomer bonding.
(Veronica Lemos)

I’ve searched high and low — well, high anyway — in hopes of finding an L.A. equivalent of the Senior Shuttle, a monthly field trip that ferries folks between an Orange County retirement community and a Santa Ana dispensary, but, as of this writing, I’ve come up empty. There aren’t any such boomer-centric, cannabis-related events on the radar of the folks at L.A. NORML (the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), though board member and cannabis brand consultant Hirsh Jain notes that “L.A. NORML’s board members are working on developing senior-friendly programming.”

Pot, pain management and free lunch: We roll along with the re-launched senior shuttle between an O.C. retirement community and a Santa Ana dispensary

Dec. 1, 2022

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any opportunities currently out there for the 70-something set looking to connect over a sesh. At the Artist Tree Studio Dispensary Lounge in West Hollywood, one of just two open consumption lounges in the L.A. area, there are recurring events that feel ripe for baked boomer bonding. Among them are once (soon to be twice) monthly Puff Puff Paint art classes ($40), the occasional hazy-headed writing workshop (Puff and Pen, $25) and a recently debuted THC-enhanced take on the kind of genteel high tea you might experience at a fine hotel, complete with antique china, tiered platters of finger sandwiches and scones and piping hot pots of (infused or un-infused) tea ($35).

“We are planning to have another one in June but don’t have a date set yet,” said Artist Tree co-owner Lauren Fontein, who added that the lounge’s first high tea on April 2 was a sell-out success. Additional event information can be found at the lounge’s website.

Would you have any suggestion for what to shop for as an alternative to inhalation avenues, and also a shop that is run by LGBTQ personnel? — W.J.

The interior of a brightly lit cannabis dispensary with glass cases and shelves filled with products.
At Green Qween, a downtown L.A. dispensary, 60% of budtenders and employees identify as members of the LGBTQ community, according to a representative.
(Dustin Kessler)

Thanks to the booming THC-infused beverage business and rapidly expanding assortment of novelty offerings, there’s hardly been a better time to explore noninhalable cannabis consumption.

If you’re looking for something sippable, I suggest you start with a beverage from our list of five good-tasting weed drinks published last summer, because those bevvies have already been vetted by our in-house Elite Beverage Tasting Squad. (The drink that got the highest marks was SoCal-based Rickett Brewing Co.’s Champagne-like Jolie Fleur Pink.)


Novel THC delivery systems help cut through the clutter and spare the lungs. That’s why your next buzz may come from a drinking straw, a cup of coffee or a squirt of sriracha.

March 23, 2023

For something beyond the traditional brownie-and-gummy sweet-treat category, our recent round-up of innovative offerings will give you plenty to chew on — eight options in all — including TSUMo Snacks’ Snazzle Os (imagine a more fun version of Funyuns), dip-like pouches that can be placed between the cheek and gum and a new-to-market cannabis-infused drinking straw.

As for the second part of your question — a shop run by LGBTQ personnel — the downtown L.A. dispensary Green Qween, co-founded by queer-nightlife event producer Andrés Rigal, holds itself out to be both a safe space for the LGBTQ community and a place to spotlight LGBTQ-owned brands including Cann, Stone Road, Drew Martin and Sonder. According to a representative, 60% of the dispensary’s budtenders and employees identify as members of the LGBTQ community.

In addition, the shop’s owners have pledged to donate a percentage of profits to the DTLA Proud community center and its services. You can find more information online at and the bricks-and-mortar dispensary itself at 1051 S. Broadway.

What do you recommend if you’re worried about getting paranoid and getting the munchies but still want to get a euphoric feeling? — M.S.

Two people standing in front of a shelf full of cannabis products in a dispensary.
A budtender, at right, helps a customer pick products at the Woods dispensary in West Hollywood.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned about cannabis over my years of using it (personally) and writing about it (professionally) is that the effects of any given cultivar, product or preparation can — and do — vary wildly from person to person. What keeps one person munchie-free might make someone else — and by that I mean me — tear through the pantry like something out of a “Cocaine Bear” blooper reel. The same goes with trying to avoid paranoia, alleviating pain or getting a better night’s sleep.

Don’t know your Delta-8 from your THCv? We strain the alphabet soup for you.

April 15, 2021

Therefore, instead of a specific product, I’m going to suggest an approach: Keep an open mind, be patient with yourself and consider exploring as many different cultivars, terpene profiles and delivery methods as you feel comfortable with. And consult your budtender. Also, as I’ve been advised by many a budtender myself, start low (dosage-wise) and go slow, especially with edibles (you can always take more but you can’t take less) and, most important, make a concerted effort — in the moment — to record in writing (in your smartphone’s note-taking app or an old-school paper notebook, whichever you find most convenient) what gave you all the feels and what made you imagine those phantom knocks at the front door.


Can dogs feel the effects of eating dried cannabis plant material? — A.T.

A dog sniffing a cannabis plant
Although fresh cannabis, as pictured here, rarely causes ill effects in dogs, ingesting it after it’s been dried can make canines sick, most likely due to their large number of endocannabinoid receptors, said the Pet Poison Helpline’s Ahna Brutlag.
(Valeriy Volkonskiy / Getty Images / iStockphoto)

This final burning question wasn’t sent in by a reader. It’s one I’ve had ever since reading a February New York Times story about dogs getting sick from eating cannabis, which seemed to indicate that dogs, unlike humans, could be affected by consuming cannabis flower. (We humans need to heat our weed — i.e., smoke it or cook with it — to feel its psychoactive effects, a process called decarboxylation.) To find out, I contacted the American Veterinary Medical Assn., which confirmed that canines and humans do react very differently to ingesting cannabis plant material, and I was referred to Ahna Brutlag, senior director of veterinary services and senior veterinary toxicologist at the Pet Poison Helpline, to explain why.

“Dogs are suspected to contain higher numbers of endocannabinoid receptors when compared to humans and tend to be much more sensitive to the intoxicating effects of THC as a result,” Brutlag said in an email to The Times. “The canine receptor distribution in the central nervous system is a bit different from humans as well. They carry higher concentrations in the brain stem and cerebellum, and this distribution may influence the coordination troubles and less common cardiovascular and respiratory clinical signs that we can see in dogs that are not often seen in humans.”

Pot for pets is a big business — dispensaries across California offer a range of cannabis-derived products formulated for the four-legged members of your family — think capsules for cats, biscuits for dogs and tinctures, oils and ointments for both.

Sept. 1, 2017

Brutlag explained that while ingesting the raw, undried cannabis plant (i.e., one planted in a pot in your living room) would rarely be intoxicating to a dog, even the very small amounts of decarboxylated active THC created in the drying process can cause intoxication in some pets.

“We have definitely seen this in dogs (i.e., when a dog eats someone’s stash),” she said, adding that marijuana products that are further heat-treated in order to be intoxicating to humans (such as edibles) pose an even greater risk to our four-legged friends. “We see many cases of this as well,” she said. “In fact, the number of cases we’ve had involving cannabis in pets has increased more than 700% in the past five years.”

Brutlag said a pet parent who suspects their fur baby is suffering from cannabis toxicosis should call the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at (855) 764-7661 (expect to be charged $85 for the consult) or their veterinarian right away. “The sooner a pet owner takes action, the more time there is to act to reduce the likelihood of poisoning in a pet, improve the pet’s prognosis, and the less expensive it is to treat,” she said.


Burning questions?

Are you a cannabis consumer with a burning question about the wide, wide world of weed — dispensary visits or otherwise?

Then fire off an email to me at If I can’t answer it, I’ll find someone who can.