Connoisseurs can find a wide range of products containing cannabis in the Netherlands, where it has been practically legal for a long time. Cannabis popsicles, lollipops, chocolate, and soap are but a few of the products you can buy in Amsterdam.
But don’t expect to have an easy time of it if you’re looking for something to use to make a sandwich. For that, you will need to take a trip to neighboring Belgium, where a Jewish baker is about to launch Europe’s first commercial line of cannabis bread.
Cannabread will be in Carrefour supermarkets in Brussels and two other Belgian cities later in November, according to a report last month in Vice Belgium. The bread already is on sale in at least one of five Lowy’s bakery shops in Brussels.
Lowy’s owner, Charly Lowy, said about 15 percent of the dough in Cannabread is made from cannabis seeds, but eating the bread will not get you high. The level of THC, the psychoactive chemical in cannabis, is low, which is also why it can be sold without restrictions in Belgium, where marijuana laws are more restrictive than they are in the Netherlands. Cannabread is certified as organic and, according to Lowy it is full of minerals, vitamin E, Omega 3 and 6, fibers, carotene, and magnesium.
“The bread is intended first and foremost for people who just love bread, and different kinds of it,” Lowy said. “But it’s true that cannabis products are in right now.”
Boutique bakers in the Netherlands and beyond occasionally have offered cannabis bread already, but Lowy is the first to mass produce it, according to media reports.
While it is not intoxicating, the bread does taste and smell like cannabis, the Vice report said. Which may be why Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain raided the bakery in 2018 and destroyed Lowy’s entire stock of Cannabread, citing the absence of certificates proving it does not get people high.
Lowy is tall and handsome. The Vice writer said that he looks like Don Draper, the lead character Jon Hamm played in the hit television drama “Mad Men.” And he has a history of baking innovative breads, including one with beer and a purple one that contains wild rice.
His family story is a prototypical European Jewish tale of success amid adversity. His late father, Otto, fled to Belgium from his native Austria when Nazi Germany annexed it in 1938. After the Nazis invaded Belgium in 1940, Otto went underground. It was then, during the most perilous period of his life, that he met his wife, Hania, a Jewish immigrant from Poland. They wed in 1942 and had three children. Charly is the youngest.
When Otto died in 1980, Charly, who was studying political science, took over the bakery and massively expanded the family business that his father had established in 1947.
Back then, the bakery’s motto was: “Bread, that’s all.”