On Tuesday, West Hollywood stepped out in front of the cannabis dining and entertainment market by approving the country’s first licensed restaurant featuring THC and CBD-infused food. Lowell Farms — a project of marijuana company Lowell Herb Co. — will also offer an open-air smoking area. While cannabis industry types and users rejoiced over the decision, not all neighbors were pleased.
Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef and Elevation VIP Coop founder Andrea Drummer has been tapped to put together a menu for Lowell Farms that features CBD, THC, or both in every dish, with an emphasis on highlighting cannabis’ benefits for personal wellness. Customers will not be able to order alcoholic beverages (which aren’t allowed at sites selling cannabis comestibles per California law), but will be able to snag tea, coffee, juice, and smoothies with their meal.
“Anyone who has one of those licenses should feel an enormous sense of responsibility—and there should be—not only to the city of West Hollywood but to the country,” Drummer told a local website in April. “There are eyes on us in doing this and executing it.”
The location will offer the first brick and mortar cannabis restaurant in the United States, but this will not be the country’s first cannabis café. That would be Portland, Oregon’s World Famous Cannabis Café (now NW Cannabis Club), which offered a space for members to consume marijuana products bought elsewhere, and a food and drink menu. In the UK, The Canna Kitchen has been showing its Brighton customers how to make a meal with weed, and specializes in meat and animal product-free fare infused with CBD and other cannabinoids.
But Lowell Farms will be the current high water mark of the cannabis fine dining trend, which has largely cropped up in the United States in the form of private dinners and pop up events organized by chefs who specialize in marijuana edibles.
Aesthetically, the business plan appears to be anything but out of the norm for the area. The Lowell Farms design showcases a recognizable Hollywood brunch chic. The outdoor dining areas feature walls of dangling succulents and cushioned lawn-type furniture that would not look out of place in a passive aggressive lunch scene on Real Housewives.
West Hollywood started accepting applications for eight consumption lounges permits in April.
Not everyone was thrilled about Lowell Farms’ approval. The synagogue Congregation Kol Ami is located 300 feet away from the site of the future restaurant, and made its disapproval of the plans known early on. The synagogue fears that clouds of cannabis smoke will bother its members, especially those who come for help with addiction problems or to attend its rooftop Friday night dinners. The congregation’s rabbi sent an email to city council members saying, “I don’t know why my congregation members and participants have to walk through clouds of marijuana to get to synagogue.”
But Lowell Farms general manager told Eater Los Angeles that the spot was committed to being the least amount of bother possible to its faithful neighbors. “We are respectful of the neighborhood and are committed to ensure any cannabis scent generated from our property doesn’t impact our neighbors,” commented Kevin Brady.
A local NBC affiliate reported that “After the café was approved, the rabbi left without a word.”