On Friday night, at chic restaurant in West Hollywood, Woody Harrelson celebrated the opening of his first marijuana dispensary, the appropriately named, The Woods WeHo. The 8,000-square foot store is located on a stretch of Santa Monica Blvd. that is already ripe with dispensaries. Though perhaps none that look like this.
The Woods feels more like a coffee shop than anything else. After paying at the counter, one can make their way to a courtyard where you can (presumably) smoke a pre-rolled joint next to a koi pond. The merchandise leans more toward sun-grown grass from Humboldt County than the chemical-forward edibles designed to get you very high, very quickly. Though there is some of that for sale, too. There are also trucker hats that say “Support Your Local Weed Farmer” and a eucalyptus-scented hemp soap from Dr. Bronner’s. Rumor has it The Woods has also applied for a liquor license so guests will be able to enjoy a drink where everyone knows your name.
That was a Cheers reference, which is where Harrelson first made his name 35 years ago, winning a best supporting actor Emmy in 1989. He has been nominated for 9 Emmys and three Academy Awards. And just this week he received a lifetime achievement award from the Emerald Cup Awards, recognizing the best in cannabis. Hours before the party, Woody cut the opening day ribbon alongside West Hollywood mayor Lauren Meister and Police Academy actor Steve Guttenberg. “Hopefully we can help make the West Hollywood citizens a little bit higher,” Woody told the crowd, before dancing on one of the glass counters inside the store.
The grand opening party was held at Norah — two doors down from The Woods — and the crowd was a mix of young surfer-types, cannabis entrepreneurs and the talk show host Bill Maher, who is apparently also a partner in The Woods. Waiters passed pesto-and-beet snacks and crostini while the bartenders served cocktails made from a small-batch vodka infused with botanical extracts. And while the party smelled faintly of weed, really this could have been a gallery opening or an indie film screening. Though a woman who looked like Marisa Tomei did pitch me on her own line of tinctures, Love Grass, a non-psychoactive THC that she said works both on humans and pets.
Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence, who co-starred with Harrelson in four Hunger Games films, had reportedly RSVP’d (a Woods publicist told me) but if she was there, the cameras didn’t find her. Woody’s brother, Brett, however was milling about and he was happy to talk. He has his brother’s same gravel-y, laid-back voice but more hair. I complimented him on his glasses and he took them off to see who made them, but then he couldn’t make out the letters. “They’re readers,” he explained, joking that he’d been: “diagnosed with early on-set O-L-D.”
Brett is 58 and lean and can sell a joke like that. He also started a label of CBD called Harrelson’s Own (funny!), which is presumably on sale at The Woods. Brett, who followed Woody to Hollywood years ago, had briefly tried his hand at acting, and played Larry Flynt’s brother, Hustler co-founder Jimmy Flynt, opposite Woody in The People vs. Larry Flynt. And like his very famous brother, he told me he’s also vegan. “If you want to be alive,” he said, “eat alive!” I think he also said that he started selling weed at 14. But it was very loud in the party. And I’d already had two Moscow Mules.
It was a family affair. And Woody’s nephew, 30-year-old Sam Harrelson, was also down to talk. He’d been growing weed — or “my own medicine,” as he called it — for six years, and he looked the part: handsome with big eyes and a beanie pulled over a skater haircut (despite the heat inside).
“I got my start in Colorado learning in the big commercial grows,” he said, “and I just always had a passion for it.” Was he advising his uncle Woody on what to stock at the store? “I’m talking to the guys at ERBA about branding the original Chemdawg. I don’t know if you know it?” (I didn’t.) “The guys that originally cropped their seeds, they’re going to bring the strains back here and talk to Devon [Wheeler, one of the co-founders] about stocking them in the store and making it the only place where you can get Chemdawg in L.A.”
He sounded pretty excited about it and so I was excited for him. Though what I really wanted to know was whether his Uncle Woody got him high for the first time. “No,” he said with a laugh. “I smoked weed early on. I grew up in Ohio.”
Sam looked around the party and said proudly, “I’m glad Woody’s able to have his dispensary. He’s always wanted to do this type of thing — have a social club, where people are free to eat good food and smoke good weed. Why shouldn’t we be able to do that?” Why not indeed.
Harrelson is a pioneer. He famously planted some hemp seeds in Kentucky 1996 in protest, and then called the cops on himself to prove a point. I’d wanted to ask Woody about that turning point — and about whether Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell would be more fun if he got high now and again — but a planned Sunday afternoon interview never materialized.
As for Love Grass, the non-psychoactive cannabis tincture the Marisa Tomei look-alike gave me, I put some in my dog’s food the next day and he did seem kinda chill. Though maybe it only felt that way to me because I’d also put some in my own food.
The Woods Weho is at 8271 Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood, CA and open 7 days a week from 8am-10pm.