WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – California-based cannabis producer Lowell Herb Company has announced it will open America’s first cannabis consumption lounge and restaurant, which will be located in West Hollywood, California.
West Hollywood city officials agreed unanimously to grant a coveted consumption facility license to Lowell Herb Co. and its partners, but the decision to allow the recreational cannabis lounges is not without controversy locally.
The Lowell Café will be located at 1201 N. La Brea Avenue, on the corner of Lexington Avenue and directly across the street from Congregation Kol Ami Synagogue. The café will feature rooftop dining. On Friday nights, the synagogue also hosts rooftop dinners and outdoor events. Leaders and members of the congregation have expressed concerns, regarding exposure to secondhand smoke and odor.
“The business is to have outdoor space for smoking pot—and I don’t know why my congregation members and participants have to walk through clouds of marijuana to get to synagogue… It will limit the use of our outdoor space as well because of the contact high from the smoke that will waft in the area. We have no objections to people buying marijuana for their private use in their domains. We know that many people including our congregants use and enjoy cannabis. Some for health and some for recreation,” Kol Ami’s Rabbi Eger reportedly said in an email to West Hollywood city council members.
Lowell Café General Manager Kevin Brady has commented to media outlets that the company takes the concerns of local residents seriously and will install the same type of ventilation system used by Las Vegas casinos, in order to eliminate smoke and odor with filtered exhaust vents. Fragrant plants also will be utilized to help mitigate any smell of marijuana smoke and provide privacy.
Lowell Café’s Head Chef Andrea Drummer, a renowned cannabis chef and author of Cannabis Cuisine: Bud Pairings of A Born Again Chef, reiterated the restaurant’s desire to accommodate neighbors, as well as many customers that are expected to visit the unique destination location. Los Angeles news station KTLA5 solicited comment from passing locals, and both had favorable comments for the planned venue, with one even saying that he would like to visit the café when it opens because he is a cannabis user.
Chef Drummer told KTLA5 the café’s menu will feature “bright and bold” flavors, to compliment the addition of cannabis infusions used in preparations, and also cannabis-infused beverages will be served; all concocted to showcase different uses of cannabis oil, whole plants as a green, and cannabis-derived plant compounds when applied to locally-sourced, fresh cuisine.
Cannabis-infused drinks will replace traditional alcoholic beverages. CBD infusions will also be available for those who prefer lighter, non-psychoactive fare. Cannabis smoking and vaping will also be permitted.
West Hollywood’s original cannabis dispensaries have raised concerns about the months-long process undertaken by city officials to determine which applicants would receive consumption facility licenses. Local dispensaries that had been established during the first wave of California medical cannabis legalization starting in the late 1990s—prior to recreational legalization in 2016—include Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHS), Los Angeles Patients and Caregivers Group (LAPCG), MedMen, and Zen Healing Collective.
Currently, those businesses have been operating under temporary recreational cannabis sales licenses. The city is considering whether to limit the dispensaries to sales of medical cannabis products, which the businesses argue would put them out of business. West Hollywood officials voted in June to extend the temporary licenses for the dispensaries, until more consideration can be given to policies.
Applicants that were granted approval for consumption facility licenses include Lowell Farms, as well as The Antidote, The Artist Tree, Door Number Six, Essence, Calma WeHo, Greenwolf West Hollywood, Flore West Hollywood, and PleasureMed.
In 2017, mgRetailer spoke to West Hollywood’s then-mayor John Heilman, we asked if progressive “WeHo” was queuing up to be the next Amsterdam, known for decades as a world-famous European hub for cannabis coffee shops and other adult tourist attractions.
“Amsterdam is a beautiful city but I don’t think West Hollywood will become another Amsterdam,” Mayor Heilman said, humorously.