The Austin Chronic: I Really Needed a Lazy Day at Lazy Daze

Inside Lazy Daze's South Austin location
Inside Lazy Daze's South Austin location (Photos by Kevin Curtin)

When I was younger, and had fewer responsibilities, I found busy people to be interesting. It seemed to me that having a lot to do was a more intellectually stimulating way to be than having nothing to do.

Now that I have a great many responsibilities as a parent, a person with a lot of creative relationships, and an unwitting participant in a society where mere existence is expensive, I think I was wrong about that. I'm so envious of people who have the time on a weekday to be reading a book at a coffee shop.

I'm struck with this notion as I sit at Lazy Daze, sipping a "Chagaccino," which is a creamy, cinnamony mocha drink made out of chaga mushrooms and cacao. I've never had one of these mushroom coffee things before and I'm really enjoying it – especially since the barista put 20 milligrams of THC extract into it. At the tables around me there's a young couple journaling while hitting a glass bong, another customer quietly strumming an acoustic guitar, a guy sitting by the window listening to music on headphones with eyes closed while smoking a house pre-roll, and a mother and her adult son catching up while packing a pipe with herbs they brought in. These people are having a lazy Sunday, except it's Thursday at 11am. It feels kind of wholesome.

Lazy Daze bills itself as an "Amsterdam-style coffee shop." If you've never been to the Netherlands, that basically means a cafe where you can buy and smoke cannabis and hang out for extended periods of time, playing chess or listening to music or reading a book or talking to friends.

And Lazy Daze is exactly that. The cafe and dispensary, which sells hemp-derived Delta 9 THC products, is actually an Austin-launched chain with franchises in Pflugerville, New Mexico, and Maryland. This flagship store, in South Austin at 5330 Menchaca, has actually been around for nearly two decades, though it took its current form in 2018 after the Farm Bill federally legalized hemp. At my visit, I was greeted by a super-friendly barista, who took my drink order and showed me the THCA pre-rolls. I got a Blue Dream one and the barista handed me a lighter and ashtray to use. They also sell pipes, one-hitters, and bongs by local glassware company Grav Labs, plus their own line of gummies, some mushroom chocolate bars, a whole cooler of THC seltzers, and hemp flower.

The space was very comfortable and extremely well ventilated (not foggy, despite five tables smoking at once) and it's decorated with all the requisite decor of a stoney college town establishment: posters featuring the likes of Cheech Marin and Seth Rogen, plus a prominent triptych featuring Wooderson and Slater from Dazed and Confused. My curious mind was drawn to a little shelf of random books and periodicals – which I thought was a nice touch.

This is the first business of its type in Austin that I know of. While the Dutch have enjoyed it for almost a half-century, "cannabis consumption lounges" are a recent trend in America, with Alaska in 2020 being the first of 12 states to allow them. So having them here is a personal freedom that I'll enjoy.

"Isn't it crazy that we can do this completely legally?" Nick Mortillaro asks.

Mortillaro is a chemical engineer and cannabis consultant who also works as an adviser to Lazy Daze, and is one of the owners of the Pflugerville location.

"Hemp is federally legal. I just took [hemp-derived THC] with me on a plane and brought it into a federal building in Capitol Hill. They asked, 'How can you bring this in?' And I said, 'Well, actually it's completely federally legal,'" he related, adding, "And I'm a chemical engineer, so if anyone wants to debate that with me, I'm ready to have a very spirited debate on how this is derived and the mechanics of it."

But as a cannabis consultant, Mortillaro knows those laws are in a perilous flux.

Coffee and weed
"While the Dutch have enjoyed it for almost a half-century, cannabis consumption lounges are a recent trend in America."

"The Farm Bill is up for renegotiation this year and they may very well change it come this September. We were in a difficult committee hearing today. It looks like it won't really go our way and they're looking to make major changes," he says, referring to the feds looking to close the loophole on THCA and Delta 8 cannabis, which would devastate the many businesses that rely on the legality of hemp-derived cannabinoids, including Lazy Daze.


"If you love it, if people enjoy it, please say something," Mortillaro asks. "Get people talking about it, because this will go away if we don't let our elected officials know that it matters to people – that there are communities built around this, that there are employees, that there are families whose livelihoods depend on it. And we can continue to operate it in a way that's safe and keeps it away from children."

And even for a 25-year cannabis user like myself, hemp-derived THC gets you a nice buzz. The 20 milligrams of THC in my mushroom mocha drink, plus the THCA preroll that I puffed down, had me loving my afternoon at Lazy Daze.

When it was time for me to leave, I noticed that Lazy Daze serendipitously shares a wall with Quack's Bakery. I stopped there on my way out and cured my munchies with a fresh sticky bun, thinking, "I should spend more days like this."