Eating the Stigma: Is the Cannabis Cafe the Next American Culinary Trend?

Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe, has become America’s first brick and mortar cannabis cafe, recently opening its doors in West Hollywood, California (yes, before Colorado) and it reeks of exclusivity — but rightfully so.

It goes without saying, but most will agree that cannabis and cuisine have an unspoken bond. Yet, it’s taken more than 100 years for America to legally bring them together. So, it’s easy to understand why potheads all over the world are collectively losing their shit that this place ACTUALLY exists.

However, since California voters passed Prop. 64, the Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) in 2016, the state has seemed eager to become a candidate to test this cafe-in-a-dispensary business model. Well, it’s here, but you’ll need to make a reservation if you’d like to get inside.For the thousands of guests already lucky enough to be shown into the wood decor filled dining area of Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Cafe, the cannabis smoke-filled interior is casual and inviting, buzzing with the scents of freshly brewed espresso, wafting clouds of cannabis, and food.

Set behind the bustling dining area, guests can opt to sit in a wide, open-air patio, shaded with small trees and shrubs, which maintains the same good-to-be-here feels you would expect to find inside one of Amsterdam’s culturally iconic coffee shops — except it’s all under a big blue California sky.

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AMERICA’S FIRST CANNABIS CAFE 🌱☕️ // The doors to our nation’s first brick & mortar cannabis cafe have opened in West Hollywood, California. Here’s what I discovered while on assignment for @foodbeast during the @lowellfarms: A Cannabis Cafe’s opening week. • • Pro tip: Go for the food, stay for the high. • • 1️⃣ VEGAN BAHN MI Built on a nice firm, but chewy baguette like any typical bahn mi, but the protein is replaced with cauliflower! Much more ‘meaty’ than I anticipated! The addition of pickled onions & sliced jalapeños give it a nice crunch and a slight kick.🥵 • • 2️⃣ TAMARIND STICKY WINGS 🍗👀 Brushed with a very sweet, almost sour tamarind sauce & hit with sesame seeds. Pair this with something herbaceous strain like gelato for a nice sweet & sour vibe! 🤪🤯 • • 3️⃣ DOUBLE SMASH BURGER 🍔 Smash parties are a serious trend right now, and it’s clear Lowell Farm noticed. Also note, there’s two smash patties in that guy. Served with red onions, cheese, pickles & a house dressing. 🧀🥒 • • 4️⃣ DOUBLE FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH Two fried chicken patties, a house slaw, sliced tomatoes & pickles. • • 5️⃣ ROASTED MARSHMALLOW BROWNIE SUNDAE 👀🍨 Some torched ‘mallows sit atop a few scoops of @mcconnellsicecreams ice cream and a nice brownie base! A pair of brûléed banana slices also make an appearance! 🔥🍌 • • 6️⃣ HAND-ROLLED FUSILLI NOOLE JOINT // A few months ago, @710labs & @710labsflower announced a new line of hand rolled pre-rolled joints, that contain a gluten-free fusilli noodle at the end. Known as a crutch, the uncooked noodle serves as a mouth piece, which provides optimum airflow and acts as a levy that keeps debris from exiting. By far the best pre-roll I’ve ever smoked. • • 7️⃣ CANNABIS & COFFEE Possibly two of my favorite things have merged into one surreal experience. What a time to be alive. If there’s anything we can learn from this experience — it’s that it works. Hopefully, this model can provide a glimpse into a future that’s already trending toward more cannabis-forward dining experiences where guests can control their own adventure.

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How it works

Once seated, your experience begins. Guests are greeted by two different servers — one is a cannabis sommelier, or flower host, who can walk and talk you through the entire purchasing process, all done table side. Your food order is placed with another server, both arrive seamlessly.

Here’s where the crux of Lowell Farm’s cafe model functions like a well-oiled machine. For anyone new to cannabis who has awkwardly waited in line at a dispensary — hat brim dipped low, eyes pointed downward, counting the seconds for the next available bud tender to help you — Lowell Cafe addresses it by working to become the antithesis of those interactions.

Be prepared for a truly surreal experience, with an expansive cannabis menu featuring packaged cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, hashish, and even rentable smoking devices — Lowell Farms thought of everything to make every cannabis connoisseur’s dream a reality, without pushing the average user out of their comfort zone.

While you can abstain from purchasing cannabis on location, guests can BYOC (bring your own cannabis) for a “tokage” fee of $20. Guests can also bring in their own smoking devices.

While the cannabis is obviously a central focus of Lowell’s newest concept, don’t forget about the food — none of which contains cannabis. Sporting a modest cafe-style menu, Lowell features a mix of finger foods like Sticky Tamarind Wings, and shareable items like Animal Style corn dogs. From a personal standpoint, the Vegan Bahn Mi was a sleeper hit, which uses sliced cauliflower as the protein.

For years, American culture shunned public cannabis use, thanks primarily to a government-driven, tax-payer funded war on drugs. While many cannabis users looked past the judging eyes of naysayers in public — Lowell Farms is allowing the underground to flourish in public view, and it doesn’t look like there’s an end in sight.

What we learned

If there’s one thing that Lowell Farms has established, it is being able to create a functional model that goes against drug war propaganda, and establishes proof that the public has been willing to explore cannabis-focused brick & mortar concepts — despite decades of anti-cannabis rhetoric.

 Written by Evan Lancaster. Published with permission from 

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