WeHo’s Lowell Café on Its Way to Become the Nation’s First Cannabis Café

The patio at Lowell Café

A unanimous vote Tuesday night by the West Hollywood Business License Commission has put Lowell Café on its way to becoming the nation’s first cannabis café.

The commission agreed to grant Flore Flora LLC the necessary license to open the cannabis consumption lounge at 1201 N. La Brea Ave. near Lexington. Customers will be able to smoke, vape and consume edible cannabis products on an outdoor patio enclosed with fencing and plants. The café also will offer a menu that includes salads and sandwiches along with coffee and tea and juices. Alcohol will not be served.

Flore Flora must next obtain a state cannabis license, which is not expected to be difficult. Richard Brenner, the chief operating officer of Hugo’s restaurant for 18 years, will be the general manager of the café. He said he expects Lowells to open next month.

The city’s cannabis ordinance would allow Lowells to operate between 6 a.m. and 2 a.m. the following day. However, the state cannabis law bars the sale or delivery of any cannabis product after 10 p.m.  The license granted Lowells would allow it to be open between 10 a.m. and 2 a.m., with the provision that no cannabis could be sold after 10 p.m.

The commission also approved a license for Pleasure Med LLC, which plans to open a business at 7715 Santa Monica Blvd., adjacent to the Pleasure Chest adult store, from which it will sell recreational and medical-use cannabis, have a lounge where cannabis can be smoked and eaten and operate a delivery service.  

A rendering of Lowell Café on the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard at Lexington

The commission decided to grant the license to Flore Flora despite opposition from Rabbi Denise Eger of Congregation Kol Ami, whose synagogue is on the opposite side of La Brea Avenue. Rabbi Eger said she was concerned that cannabis smoke would drift outside the Lowell Café property and possibly affect Kol Ami’s congregation, which includes young children and people in recovery from drug addiction.

John Leonard, who as the city’s community and legislative affairs manager has overseen its complex cannabis licensing process, said Lowell Café’s business license specifies that no odor generated by the café can be detectable outside the property. Leonard said the café has contracted with an HVAC and filtration company to install air purification systems to absorb odors and it will features number of fragrant and odor-absorbing plants as an additional odor-control measure. 

A large number of local residents appeared before the commission to support granting Lowell Café a license, many of them organized by Renee Nahum, a political consultant who Flore describes as the “public face of Flore.” Also speaking in favor were Scott Schmidt, who is executive director of AURA, the Adult Use Retailers Association, which represents the city’s eight recipients of recreational cannabis licenses, and Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Behind the scenes, Flore Flora has an impressive roster of creators. Hollywood Reporter reports that it was the idea of Sean Black and David Elias, co-founders of the Los Angeles-based cannabis brand Lowell Herb Co.whose pre-rolled Lowell Smokes are sold at over 300 dispensaries. Their partners in the venture include Mark and Jonnie Houston, whose nightclub and restaurant business attracts celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Jimmy Kimmel, Paris Jackson, Chelsea Handler, Usher and David LaChapelle. MedMen, which failed to qualify for a recreational cannabis license, is said to be an investor in Lowell Herb Co.

Illustration of PleasureMed, 7715 Santa Monica Blvd.

PleasureMed was approved without any objections from the community. It is a project of Brian Robinson, owner of the nearby Pleasure Chest for more than 20 years.  It will feature recreational and medical use cannabis spaces on the first floor of the new building. On the second floor, there will be a lounge where customers can consume cannabis products. PleasureMed also will deliver cannabis products to customers within a 10-mile radius. A staff report to the Business License Commission describes PleasureMed’s interior as “designed to create a museum-like setting with high ceilings, decorative beams, crawling greenery and ornamental arched windows.”

Rendering of the second floor interior of PleasureMed

John Leonard said he expects other winners of licenses to come before the Business License Commission next month. The city has approved eight cannabis licenses in each of five categories  — recreational sales, medical use sales, delivery, smoking and vaping lounges and edible product lounges, with some applicants like Pleasure Med LLC being granted licenses in multiple categories. To open, the licensees must secure a location for the business and then obtain the appropriate planning permits from the city’s Current and Historic Preservation Planning Division, affirming that the proposed use is permitted within the zoning for the property. After obtaining planning permits the licensees have a hearing before the Business License Commission in which the commission will approve or deny issuance for the business license and set any necessary conditions on the business. Then each licensee must obtain a license from the State of California.


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enemyofthestate
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enemyofthestate

And will tobacco smokers be forced to go out outside to smoke?

Buzzed
Guest
Buzzed

At first glance, the photo appeared to possibly be the interior of an alternative health care venue…..perhaps dedicated to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Unfortunately not, as this a sophisticated marketing strategy for a cannabis cafe, the polar opposite. If one is interested in solutions, TCM is worth investigation after positive results fo more than 5000 years since first being recorded in writing, during the Shang Dynasty in 1766 BC. Qualified practitioners of TCM in various disciplines, utilizing proven therapies and Chinese herbs produce measurable results one can compare with Western Medicine and alternatives. Medical Marijuana and its social related madness served… Read more »

Ham
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Ham

this is such a terrible trend. nothing good ever comes from using drugs.

mark
Guest
mark

One more point. If you can’t defend yourself clearly and with boundaries when high, don’t use it. I was falsely accused of something and arrested partly because I couldn’t speak clearly from being in SHOCK from the arrest while worrying about my pet home alone. The police aren’t trained to deal with people that may be having a bad reaction to a new weed they are trying mixed with what they ate for dinner, pharma they may be on, personal stresses, etc. That deadly mix can cost you your life. I’m a smart guy. I was voted most likely to… Read more »

mark
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mark

To those who quote “science” as their argument please know that we never know where something is sourced which changes constantly. This includes big pharma (which is continually being sued for fraud and changing ingredients without letting people know. Once an ingredient is approved they can swap them out like trading cards with no additional studies, or studies of the accumulative effects). Weed, even if so-called organic (good look proving that since some of it has pesticides on it, or can be genetically modified) can have the sourcing changed at any time and the high employees will look at you… Read more »

mark
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mark

All I can say is this. After growing up with an abusive father who smoked pot to hide/numb his past, it made my life a living hell. I rejected the drug as a young adult because it reminded me of him. I eventually began using it. Each time I used it I’d get a different affect, making my behaviors irrational and even dangerous. I almost committed suicide while on it. Almost harmed someone driving, thinking it was out of my system. It wasn’t. And one night I was arrested because I over-reacted to a situation and that scared me because… Read more »

Eric Jon Schmidt
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I really am sorry for what you experienced in your youth with your Father. I truly hope you can find forgiveness and closure about that. Pot affects everyone differently much like booze. Some people shouldn’t use either. I am one of them. I’m sorry about your bad experience with pot. I tried it when it became legal too and had similar affects as you described. It’s not for me. However, for most people they have a pleasant experience with it and they now have the legal right to use it. I believe in social responsibility, but I also believe in… Read more »

Shorty
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Shorty

Sorry but I’m highly skeptical about this. Weed might’ve been present around your life troubles, but I highly doubt they were all *caused* by it. Scientific literature simply does not support such a dark scenario. This is one case; by and large, weed is hardly harmful as presented. Glad you’re getting the help you need to cope with your abusive father.