West Hollywood cannabis cafe opens with booming business on 1st day

WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- The nation's first legal cannabis cafe has opened up in West Hollywood and the lines were out the door on the first day.

Customers waited longer than an hour to get inside Lowell Garden cafe.

But many said it was worth the wait.

"If I can hang out with my friends and enjoy cannabis under the sun in L.A., I think everybody's gonna have a real good time," said customer Kenneth Seligson, from San Francisco.

Customers can choose to visit Lowell cafe's restaurant or the cannabis lounge. They aren't allowed to smoke in the restaurant but they can order food from the kitchen and have it delivered to the lounge. According to the city, Proposition 64 allows indoor smoking in cannabis lounges.

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West Hollywood's new cannabis cafe was a popular spot on its first day.

Lowell cafe allows smoking, vaping and offers prepackaged edibles, but no one under 21 gets through the doors.

"We've had people reach out from Russia, from Italy, from Mexico City that are planning their vacations here," said the cafe's Kevin Brady. "But we've also seen people that are excited to bring their grandparents in because they're using THC to combat some forms of illness."

City leaders say neighboring businesses have been welcoming of the new business, aside from one expressing concerns about smoke and odor.

"Throughout this process, we've had very little pushback," said John Leonard, an official with the city. "Only one neighboring business was concerned about potentially smell and smoke leaving the premises and drifting into other businesses. That's not going to happen here."

Heavy-duty ventilation and filtration systems are in place to contain smells and odors within the premises.

So how will local law enforcement keep nearby motorists safe from anyone who might partake too much?

"Law enforcement will handle it the same way they do alcohol and DUI," Leonard said. "It's essentially the same thing."

In general, Leonard said, the city will encourage people not to drive if they are partaking in cannabis, but instead to walk, rideshare or use other alternative means.

The city expects three more cannabis consumption lounges to open within the next six months, and as many as 12 more within two years.
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