The owner of Gainesvilleâs first cannabidiol lounge would tell you the glass Chester Cheetah bong sitting in his display case isnât a bong at all.
Itâs âfunctional art,â heâd say.
The Darth Vader bong? Thatâs art, too, and itâs not for sale until he finds the YodaÂ bong that matches it.
Swamp City Gallery Lounge, 404 SEÂ Second St., opened about four months ago butÂ will hold its grand opening celebration Wednesday through Sunday. Itâs the brainchild of Gainesville native Tyler King.
Swamp City sells glass-blown art pieces and CBD products, which comes fromÂ industrial hemp that is sold legally in Florida â as long as it contains less than .3 percent THC.
Customers atÂ the loungeÂ must be 18 to buy it.
Without THC, which causes hallucinogenic effects or a âbuzz,â CBD is used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety medicine. It also helps with pain relief.
General Manager Tony Phillips described the feeling while using CBD âlike taking a Tylenol and then having a little wine.â
To King and Phillips, creating the lounge is about creating a new space so people who actively use CBD, and even those who know nothing about it, can be educated and network about opportunities within the cannabis industry, while having a good time.
âItâs all about experiencing a new lifestyle,â King said.
Phillips added: âItâs about having a safe place to come and enjoy the lifestyle without fear.â
Swamp Cityâs CBD bar features different CBD oils, tinctures and CBD âdabs,â which melt like an oil while a customer inhales its vapors.
If inhaling CBD isnât your thing, the lounge sells CBD gummies and ice cream.
Prices for the CBD products range in price from $20 to $100.
Swamp City also has three lounge rooms: one for meditation, one for networking and one for drinking beer.
The meditation room has abstract paintings on the walls and is used for relaxation. The networking room has tables and chairs arranged for meetings.
And the beer garden offers craft beers from Gainesville breweries like Swamp Head, First Magnitude and Cypress and Grove. It also has a beer made from hemp.
âWhen you pour it, (the smell) makes you check your pockets to make sure you didnât bring anything (cannabis)Â from home,â King joked.
âAnything from homeâ includes THC and black market cannabis products, which arenât allowed in the lounge, King and Phillips said.
King said he has customers who are on probation and inhaling THC could cause them to violate it.
But most importantly, he said he wants to ensure no illegal activity takes place on the property.
âWe have a zero tolerance policy,â King said. âWeâre trying to protect ourselves.”
Gainesville police spokesman Ben Tobias saidÂ the Gainesville-Alachua CountyÂ Drug Task ForceÂ is aware of the lounge and will respond to any complaints about it.
GPD wonât be needed, though,Â according to PhillipsÂ â at least not on his watch.
Phillips said he uses medical cannabis and you canât disguise âthe real dealâ to him.
âIf people come in and say âNo, this is CBD,â and itâs the real thing, Iâm going to catch them every time and escort them off of the property,â Phillips said. âAin’t no foolinâ this nose.â
Kingâs passion for cannabis came at an early age, he said.
For an eighth-grade science project at Fort Clarke Middle School, he said he reported on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
Teachers didnât like it, he said, and it led to a parent-teacher conference, but that didnât dim his enthusiasm, he said.
King moved to California in 2010 to pursue cannabis ventures and returned to Gainesville in 2014.
When the Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative, also known as Amendment 2, passed in 2016, he thought heâd start his own dispensary but quickly realized the state would only give out few licenses to companies with millions in assets.
He decided a lounge would be the next best thing, he said.
âI realized this would be a great place for people to come and enjoy the benefits of CBD together,â King said.
Swamp Cityâs grand opening weekend includes food trucks, acoustic music out on its back patioÂ and vendors from local dispensaries.
The lounge will be open from Wednesday to Saturday from about 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from noon to midnight.