The United States will now have its first open cannabis consuming lounge on Monday. It’s known as Lowell Café. The establishment is in West Hollywood. What stands out about this particular establishment is that it brings a bit of Amsterdam to America and not just by name.
For the first time, consumers in this country will be able to order pot just like a bottle of wine. This product is the upscale analog that the bar owners are aiming to have. The pot can, as pre-rolled or vaped joints. This particular advantage comes despite having a spike in health-related issues and deaths that are directly linked to vaping.
The café serves as an extended opening to the cannabis market. Right now, dispensaries, as well as web-based orders, make up the sale. It serves as a testing ground for far more open and exposed consumption of the product that still considered illegal in many parts of the country.
David Elias, the co-founder of the Lowell Herb Company and owner of the café, states that consumers make do with receiving their joints in a plastic bag while they go to dinner with exquisite bottles of wine. People want to do this with their friends instead of over a dark alley are in their car as did they have something to hide.
Lowell sells pre-rolled merchandise to more than 300 establishments. The former trader started in 2017 with only five employees. This rough beginning was just a year after the Adult use of marijuana act in California finally passed. He now has a staff of over 200 and has among many others Miley Cyrus as an investor.
Quite a Challenge
With executive order that curbs youth vaping taking effect this month, and California governor Newsom’s spending of more than $20,000,000 to promote an awareness campaign against nicotine and cannabis vaping, the café has a lot of tricky challenges ahead of it.
Elias admits that this is an extremely tricky situation, indeed in an interview at his café in Hollywood. He says that they’re closely monitoring this every day and allows them to make informed decisions based on limited available data.
Just a day after the interview, Federal Health officials discovered that almost 77% of vaping-related lung issues were related to products that have THC—the main component of marijuana that has psychoactive properties. This piece of data further compounds evidence that vaping and such devices could cause the worsening epidemic. According to pry these reports, Lowell also said that they are committed to the safety of consumers and that they will ensure strictest implementations and compliance of imposed guidelines within the state. The institution also implies that there needs to be a crackdown on the black market industry that houses these contaminants.
There are other more local concerns. Elias also talked about working with the local synagogue across from the bar that had an issue with cannabis smell. He claimed that the issue has already been addressed through exhaust systems within the 220 seater venue both indoors and outdoors.
Open consumption of cannabis has not taken hold in the U.S. just yet. For Amsterdam tourists who have cafes lined the streets, it is so confusing to have it legal there but have none that sells it directly. Elias’ café aims to cater to that market by creating a strong California brand, much like Levi Strauss and his jeans.
According to the Brightfield Group’s director of research In the event of success, they could easily replicate the business model across the country. Brightfield is known for its extensive cannabis market research efforts.
However, it is still not clear if the popularity and demand will rise as it did for the jeans company. The need for public cannabis consumption locales still leans towards a specific group.
Tons of Roadblocks
Being the first of eight cafes scheduled to open in Hollywood, (out of 400 applicants) Elias’ acknowledged that specific blockages for entry do exist in hordes. This challenge still comes in spite of having huge competition with access to large funds.
Lowell finally completed its second financing round from the main investor. Beehouse, a well-known venture capital firm, had invested up to $45,000,000. This piece of information came from Elias who had met with at least 100 investors. He decided to take a risk on venture capitalists rather than turning to public markets. Elias’ also declined to make comments on company valuation or any specific investor stakes except to expound on this role as the majority owner.
Aside from Cyrus, many other celebrities such as Chris Rock, Mark Ronson, and MedMen Enterprises Inc. also bought at least 3.9% stakes each from the parent company just last year. Brightfield labeled the establishment as the Cannabis Apple Store, which focuses on high-end products. Elias’ admits that he is now considering an IPO or listing as long as the correct circumstances occur. He has the financing funds to back it up.
According to him, many of these similar companies do not target long-term growth. They aim for the highest valuation in public markets and IPO. He wants to fight for history using the first American pot cafe.