The world’s first legal cannabis cafe is now open in the United States. Does it meet the hype?
Cannabis culture has grown exponentially since cannabis was first legalized recreationally in Colorado in 2012. With more states starting their own legal cannabis industries than ever before, the stigma surrounding cannabis is finally being broken down piece by piece.
As cannabis becomes more culturally accepted into the mainstream, so grows the cannabis consumer base, looking for a place to enjoy their cannabis. Unfortunately, a lot of states have laws on the books preventing public consumption, which means that you can only consume cannabis on private property. For a lot of people that rent, it just isn’t possible.
While some attempts at cannabis consumption businesses have popped up, they are very limited in their permissions, with all of them only allowing vaping, edibles or dabbing, with no smoking of flower allowed. That is, until now.
Lowell Farms: a Cannabis Cafe
Lowell Farms is a well known name in the California cannabis industry, with their pre-roll joint packs being found on just about every dispensary shelf in the state. But Lowell is more than that now. They are also the first company to open a legal cannabis consumption cafe in the United States.
So how does the world’s first cannabis cafe operate? Well it’s not like any dispensary or cafe you’ve ever been to, that’s for sure.
The best way to describe Lowell Farms cannabis cafe is a half restaurant, half dispensary hybrid. You can get your food and your cannabis from the same place, but not from the same people. If that sounds confusing, let me dive into the full experience for you.
The Lowell Farms Experience
It’s an incredibly simple concept, that works alright in practice. When you walk into Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe, you wouldn’t be wrong if you mistook it for your average restaurant. It has an indoor and outdoor seating area, a bar in the middle of the dining room, and hustling and bustling waiters and waitresses.
After being seated, you’re given not one, but two menus. The first is your average food and drink menu with soft drinks, tea, coffee, small plates and lunch entrees. The second menu is the cannabis menu. This menu has your pre-rolls, joint packs, concentrates, and flower to pick from.
When your first server comes to the table, you can order tea, coffee, other drinks and food off of the first menu, just like your average dining experience. But then your second server comes, who would be described better as a walking dispensary.
The cannabis server came up and took our order just like the food server did, but because the cafe is half restaurant and half dispensary, the orders are taken and paid for (and tipped) separately, which can be a hassle especially if you decide you want seconds. The selection of cannabis products is varied, and there are a lot of options to pick from, including outdoor, greenhouse and indoor cannabis flower, hash-packed pre-rolls and more.
The food came out less than 5 minutes after we ordered it, which is great. Unfortunately, we had just rolled up our first joint, and had to let the food sit while we smoked. If there was a little more delay between servers with the cannabis coming out first followed by the food, the experience definitely wouldn’t feel so rushed.
California cannabis is world renowned, and only having tried it one other time back in 2013 I wanted to take advantage. While Lowell Farms actually allows customers to bring their own cannabis for $20, buying your cannabis there gets you a rolling tray, grinder and papers that you would otherwise need to bring yourself, so we went with buying ours there. Not just to save us the trouble of bringing our own, but to really see what kind of products they are selling.
The pricing of each product seemed to vary on whether it was indoor or outdoor, in addition to brand name. Upon asking our budtender/server how the prices were structured, we were told that the prices are set according to what the cafe pays their vendors to get it all. If that’s the case, Lowell Farms must be paying a pretty penny for their product.
We will dive into the costs of the Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe experience soon, but for now let’s dive into the actual product. We decided to keep it simple on our visit, and only bought an eighth of flower. Out of the 20-30 flower options on the menu, only the first two were not indoor-grown, and they were also the cheapest. Other than that, the prices slowly rose as you went down the menu, with the “exotic” strains being the most expensive at the bottom. We went with a middle of the road Zkittles eighth, grown indoors.
As much as I hate to say it for the price we paid, I have seen Colorado outdoor that looked better than this cannabis. That’s not to say it didn’t look good, smoke well, taste good and get the job done, but I just wasn’t impressed with the look. Machine trimmed, compact nugs with not much trichome shine on the outside, and a sweet and mild fruit smell when you cracked the bud open. Throughout our time there we rolled up four joints, and had about a gram and half left by the time we decided to head out.
That’s really it. You get some food, you get some cannabis, and you enjoy. We weren’t rushed out the door with our leftover cannabis once we were done eating, but we did feel a little odd sticking around 30 minutes after we finished our meal to keep smoking, especially knowing that servers are trying to hustle as many tables as possible. But like I said, had we had more time before the food arrived to enjoy our cannabis, it probably wouldn’t have been an issue.
Now let’s get down to the biggest pitfall of Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe – the price.
The Price of a Good Time
Can you really put a price on a good time? At Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe, the answer is yes and then some.
I get it. This is the first cannabis cafe in the history of the United States, there’s a lot of demand, and it’s in Los Angeles which is an expensive city. It should be no surprise that a cafe that advertises itself as a luxury cannabis lifestyle experience charges a premium for it. But let’s put it all in perspective.
In our time at Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe, we purchased one eighth of flower and one pre-roll with some hash in it. Our total was over $100. Throw in the $24 for the meal we split, and you’re looking at an expensive experience just to smoke in peace and have a snack. When an eighth of cannabis costs $55 without any tax, you expect a certain quality, and frankly the flower we got from Lowell Farms did not meet that standard for me.
Is Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe Worth It?
As a one-time experience to check out the only cannabis cafe in the country? Yes, it is worth it.
Being in a public space with a hundred other people, all just relaxing, smoking and enjoying good food is a real sight to see. It makes me so excited for the future cannabis cafes that are bound to start popping up across the country, and competitive market is going to drive down the prices for these places over time.
But for Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe, there are still a lot of adjustments to be made before it’s a real accessible, enjoyable experience for your average cannabis consumer. The cannabis is insanely over-priced, and it all comes pre-packed. Our flower had been sitting in its jar since July 2019, and we went to Lowells in Mid-November.
In a realistic Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe experience, the cheapest flower you’ll find will still be over $60 with tax (and that’s the outdoor), the concentrates will be over $70 (without tax) for half a gram, and the pre-rolls come small. But for a once in a lifetime experience that you can’t find anywhere else in the country, Lowell Farms Cannabis Cafe is worth a visit.