Jay Z Caliva

The Week in Cannabis

Full-service cannabis cafes, Jay-Z, Congressional marijuana hearings, and more

(Sean Black / Lowell Herb Co.)

The country’s first-ever cannabis café is set to open this August in West Hollywood. Known as Lowell Farms, the café will consist of a full-service rooftop restaurant with a THC and CBD-based menu, along with a vibey smoking area. Unsurprisingly, the space is lush and green, and looks perfectly suited to hip-but-relaxed social gatherings. After guests order food, they can expect to be visited by a cannabis sommelier, who will make knowledgeable recommendations on the menu options. Co-founder Sean Black claims this truly marks the end of prohibition and told the L.A. Times that the goal was “to make cannabis as acceptable as alcohol in social situations.”

Not everyone is in love, however. The neighboring synagogue has expressed frustration that the outdoor seating area will put their congregants uncomfortably close to cannabis consumers. The stalemate has yet to be resolved, but the hype surrounding the new business and hopes for others like it has set the community abuzz.

In other news, Mr. Carter-Knowles, otherwise known as Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z, has added his named to the growing list of celebrities entering the cannabis industry. He announced he would join the California brand Caliva, lending his heavyweight presence as chief brand strategist. He will apparently help the company with creative decisions and strategy, but will also take on an advocacy role and confront social justice issues in the cannabis space. According to a statement, this will include outreach and job training for the previously incarcerated and others who have been largely excluded from the legal pot business. Kraig Fox, CEO of High Times first reported the news: “Jay-Z entering the cannabis space reaffirms that effective brands will drive the future of the cannabis industry. We applaud his efforts to be a part of the solution in righting the disproportionate impact that the war on drugs has had on minority communities. Jay personifies the perfect mix of celebrity, entrepreneur and true brand,”

On the political front, Congress held a landmark hearing on legalization and cannabis reform. Amazingly, the hearing directly addressed core issues that legalization advocates have been pushing for years: the need for marijuana’s re-assessment as a Schedule 1 drug; the disproportionate effect of anti-drug laws on poor people and people of color; and the difficulties faced by cannabis consumers and businesses despite the spread of legalization. Although the hearing highlighted the slow nature of reform, some advocates contend that the information shared there could help push upcoming reform bills through congress.

Such bills were introduced this week by media darling Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and 2020 democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris (D-CA). The companion bills seek to protect people with minor drug convictions from losing access to public housing – another step in rising efforts to abandon harsh penalties seen as out of step with a public that favors legalizations by some 60 percent. Also in the past week, Hawaii added its name to the list of states to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Watch this space for more as it happens!

Christina Rock is a Seattle-based writer and photographer.