The Lowell Cafe in Los Angeles is set to make history as the nation’s first cannabis lounge. The West Hollywood Business License Commission voted unanimously on July 16 to allow the lounge to open Sept. 1 at 1201 N. La Brea Ave.
According to the Los Angeles Times, customers will sit outside, surrounded by “lush greenery,” and be served by a “cannabis sommelier.”
But Rabbi Denise L. Eger, spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami — an LGBTQ-friendly Reform synagogue across the street from the proposed cafe — isn’t excited about the prospect,
She said some of her congregants are enrolled in 12-step programs, and others could get a “contact high” while on the way to synagogue worship services and classes.
“The business is to have outdoor space for smoking pot — and I don’t know why my congregation members and participants have to walk through clouds of marijuana to get to synagogue. It will limit the use of our outdoor space as well because of the contact high from the smoke that will waft in the area,” Rabbi Eger wrote in a letter to city council members.
The cafe’s creators say they have addressed the kinds of concerns raised by Rabbi Eger by installing a special HVAC system to remove the smoke smells from the air. They have also promised to encircle the smoking area with “fragrant” and “odor-absorbing” plants.
In 2015, Rabbi Eger became the first openly gay individual to head the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the largest organization of Reform rabbis in the United States.
The city of West Hollywood will be monitoring the Lowell Cafe business for a year, until its license expires, to determine how the business is impacting neighbors like the Kol Ami congregation.
Gabe Friedman writes for the JTA international news agency and wire service.