Amsterdam is about to lose its monopoly on social consumption.
The first cannabis cafe that can actually serve weed and THC-infused beverages to any adult 21 and over is coming to the Los Angeles area, thanks to Lowell Herb Co.
Lowell Herb Co. gained its fame in California by aligning itself with a gaggle of ganja-loving celebrities, including but not limited to Wiz Khalifa, Miley Cyrus, Miguel, Emma Stone, Awkwafina, The Weeknd, Halsey, Sarah Silverman, Usher, and Jimmy Kimmel, wrote Hollywood Reporter.
Known for throwing lavish, invite-only events for these celebs — gala-styled affairs that included a lot of pot — the Lowell Herb Co.’s founders, Sean Black and Davis Elias, decided that LA’s elite shouldn’t be the only ones having all the heady fun. That’s why they’re bringing their cannabis-party mentality to the public through their new social consumption lounge in West Hollywood, Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café.
Dubbed “America’s first cannabis cafe featuring budtenders,” Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café is already set to offer pre-rolled joints alongside pre-packaged CBD- and THC-infused beverages. Servings are capped at 10 mg CBD or THC a pop, which is the standard dose under the Golden State’s recreational weed laws.
And to keep things both transparent and classy, the cafe will openly source its pot products for its customers. Each item listed on the menu includes which farm it came from, so patrons can always verify the quality of the cannabis.
“Just like you know the vineyard before you buy the wine, you’ll know the farm before you buy the flower at our cafe,” Black told Hollywood Reporter.
Black and Elias would love to serve freshly prepared dishes infused with CBD or THC, but California’s testing and packaging regulations for cannabis products currently prevent them from crafting their own edibles on-the-spot.
Can Lowell Farms legitimately claim to be the nation’s first cannabis café, though? Social consumption venues have been around for a long time, first as illegal, underground spots reminiscent of the old alcohol prohibition-era speakeasies.
But in recent years, state- and city-licensed businesses that permit on-site cannabis consumption have cropped up. However, these places have traditionally been BYOB — bring your own bud — meaning you could blaze on the premises, but you couldn’t buy weed there. Instead, you had to get the goods from elsewhere beforehand, which isn’t exactly “regulating marijuana like alcohol,” the oft-parroted legalization slogan that hasn’t fully materialized in weed-legal states.
After all, bars that serve alcohol sit on practically every street corner, but bars where responsible adults can buy and blaze buds have been noticeably non-existent. Regulators usually justify bud-bar bans by claiming potheads will get behind the wheel after getting lit at a lounge, then crash into some innocent driver or pedestrian.
“Those who wish to consume cannabis are going to do so whether social sites exist or not, and are going to make driving decisions regardless of where they consume,” Jim Borghesani, a spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, told the Review Journal last year. “Social sites will simply give cannabis users the same options available to alcohol users.”
Last year, West Hollywood’s city regulators acknowledged that tourists (and residents) had no venues to consume cannabis with friends and peers. In December, the city finally issued social consumption licenses to a handful of businesses. Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café is just one of those businesses that will offer recreational pot products to any adult in West Hollywood.
Meanwhile, both Colorado and Michigan recently enacted statewide social consumption reforms. Colorado has long struggled to properly regulate weed lounges in Denver and Colorado Springs, and the few that do openly operate aren’t allowed to sell THC products. But that may soon change under the Centennial State’s new social consumption laws. Michigan’s lounges may sell weed, but cannot serve food or booze.
Massachusetts and Maine included social consumption in their legalization bills, but regulatory interference may prevent those from opening any time soon. Alaska also has limited social consumption, but only for “tasting rooms” in dispensaries, where customers can sample the product before purchasing some (which isn’t exactly a lounge setting where you can knock back some THC-infused brewskis).
Will California’s authorities respect the wishes of West Hollywood’s voters and city council? The state, historically, hasn’t been generous to licensed cannabis businesses, and it’s still wrestling with transitioning from the “traditional” or “black” market to a regulated one. Time will tell, but until the cops make a move — bon, or bong, appétit.
Follow Randy Robinson on Twitter