The five-bedroom bed-and-breakfast, just a stoner's throw from the beach, exists as a safe—and perfectly legal—haven for people who smoke marijuana for medical reasons. "Motel 6 guests probably smoke it quietly in their rooms," says Andrea Tischler, 57, who with her partner, Maria Mallek-Tischler, 46, opened the inn in a restored Victorian in April. "This is more out of the closet."
Guests who show up hoping to be provided with marijuana go away disappointed; the Compassion Flower is strictly BYOP. And, as required by California law, a doctor's note is also necessary. Tischler, who grew up in Chicago, and German-born Mallek-Tischler, a couple since 1979, have been pot-legalization activists since the 1980s in San Francisco. "We had a lot of friends with AIDS," says Tischler. "They were taking AZT, and marijuana seemed to bolster their appetite."
Out in the sunshine-soaked "toking area," a new arrival, Scott Byer, 53, of Clearlake, Calif., who smokes to ease spinal pain, has taken out a small porcelain pipe and is filling it. He doesn't even have his room key yet.