OPINION: Lowell Farms’ cannabis cafe helps normalize cannabis

By Steven Adamo

The new cannabis cafe from Lowell Farms opened yesterday in West Hollywood, a first of its kind in California and possibly a first of  many more. 

More of these types of businesses will help normalize cannabis use and local businesses profit in ways that local breweries have for the past several years. 

It will also help to counter years of misinformation and the effects of its criminalization.

The cafe sells non-cannabis-infused foods that are paired with various strains of cannabis that has been tested and approved by the state of California.

The information printed on some of Lowell Farms’ products includes a little insight into their business and their process— like the fact that they grow their cannabis using organic fertilizers instead of synthetic pesticides, as well as using natural materials throughout the entire process. This is helpful to those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes. 

California was the first state to criminalize cannabis, then known as “Indian Hemp.” The first known marijuana bust occurred in 1914, one year after The Poison Act was amended to include cannabis. 

It occurred in the Mexican-American neighborhood known as Sonoratown, which is currently Chinatown. 

Just as alcohol prohibition was ending in the 1930s, the first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger spread misleading and false information regarding the effects of cannabis use with the help of yellow journalist, William Randolph Hearst. 

In 1959, Anslinger and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics treated drug use as a crime, even handcuffing singer Billie Holiday to her hospital bed where she died days later at the age of 44. 

Race played a big part in Anslinger’s anti-marijuana campaign. In an article posted last month on NPR.org, an FBI memo quoted a source in the Federal Bureau of Narcotics that said “because of the importance of Holiday, it has been the policy of this bureau to discredit individuals of this caliber using narcotics.” 

With the misinformation and the singling-out of communities of color, the war on drugs like cannabis has to end. 

Thankfully, several counties in California have been expunging prior marijuana convictions and reducing felonies to misdemeanors. Parts of the new legalization law also gives job priority to those whose lives have been affected by the war on drugs. 

Most of the horror stories that Anslinger and company told in order to influence federal regulation of cannabis have long been disproven. 

A lot of the money generated from cannabis sales goes into the general fund which a lot of other communities don’t receive because they’ve chosen not to participate. 

However, with the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates promoting plans like Medicare for all and free college tuition, with a lot of the discussion focused on how to pay for it, some of the extra revenue collected from cannabis could help fund these programs. 

Now that the first cannabis cafe is open, this will only add to the tax revenue that legal cannabis brings in. This will also help a lot of entrepreneurs who want to dive into this new economy.  

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