By Cnaan Liphshiz
AMSTERDAM (JTA) — Connoisseurs can find a wide range of products containing cannabis in the Netherlands, where it has long been practically legal: Cannabis popsicles, lollipops, chocolate and soap are but a few of the products available for purchase in the Dutch capital.
But don’t expect to have an easy time of it if you’re looking for something to hold your lunchtime turkey slices. 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 available for purchase in Carrefour supermarkets in Brussels and two other Belgian cities later in November, according to a report last month in Vice Belgium. The bread is already 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. Cannabread is also certified organic and, according to Lowy, 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 told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “But it’s true that cannabis products are in right now.”
Boutique bakers in the Netherlands and beyond have occasionally offered cannabis bread in the past, but Lowy is the first to mass produce it, according to media reports.
While 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 found him to resemble Don Draper, the lead character portrayed by Jon Hamm in the hit television drama “Mad Men.” And he has a history of baking innovative breads, including one with beer and a purple bread containing wild rice.
His family story is also a common European Jewish tale of success amid adversity. His late father, Otto, fled to Belgium from his native Austria, when it was annexed by Nazi Germany 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 then 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.”