The opening of State Street's newest restaurant The High Crowd Cafe is making a statement for the normalization of cannabis for recreational use in Wisconsin, giving a new meaning to getting blasted.
The cafe is not the first store to open in Madison that sells THC legally, as THC stores can be found throughout the town. However, the High Crowd Cafe is unique because it sells beverages and food infused with THC and CBD, an experience unlike many of Madison's other cafes.
The High Crowd’s beverages range from lattes to fruity lemonades infused with the customer’s choice of anywhere from 25 to 100 milligrams of THC, according to their website.
The High Crowd Cafe in Madison is the store’s second location, with the first residing in Chicago's Lincoln Park. The opening of this State Street location is an indication of the progress Madison has made toward accepting the recreational use of cannabis.
While the typical hangout spots for the University of Wisconsin-Madison students are various bars around the city, the addition of a cafe dedicated to providing THC-infused goods is a breath of fresh air for students looking for a new spot. Dispensaries do not typically offer spaces for customers to consume their products, so a THC-friendly establishment like a cafe gives users a new experience.
There are many seating options where people can get work done or catch up with friends. High Crowd also has different entertainment outlets — such as board games and TVs — where customers can watch sports and socialize.
High Crowd could be a new breakthrough in the Madison social scene, as it provides an alternative to “going out” and drinking alcohol. While there may be some concerns about the cafe’s presence and the accessibility of its products to the student body, customers must be 21 years or older to purchase the THC-infused products.
High Crowd also may raise confusion due to the status of marijuana's legality in Wisconsin. While marijuana may not be legal, THC-infused products can still be bought and sold when they are derived from hemp plants.
Hemp is classified as containing less than 0.3% THC, which is the psychoactive component also found in marijuana. Common types of hemp-derived products are CBD, Delta-8 and Delta-9.
Delta-8 and Delta-9 share some similar psychoactive effects that cannabis from a marijuana plant would. Due to the lower concentration of THC, their effects are not as strong and therefore are tolerated by Wisconsin law because they do not elicit the typical effects of being “high.”
I have experienced the broad horizon of edibles, ranging from chocolates and gummies bought at dispensaries to homemade brownies and rice crispies. The Purple Punch tea from the High Crowd Cafe, however, was my first experience with a THC-infused beverage.
As someone with a moderate tolerance, I did not expect a drink with 10 mg of THC to have much of an effect on me; within the first hour, I felt the effects, though. Despite already feeling the effects of the drink, I decided to also try their oatmeal raisin cookie, which had 75 mg of THC. I ate only a third of the cookie, but I felt progressively higher, especially when paired with the beverage I had earlier. My friends and I split the remainder of the cookie.
With only positive reviews, we are already making plans to revisit the cafe.
The High Crowd Cafe is definitely a positive addition to Madison. Whether you are skeptical of THC, or even if you have a more negative opinion on the use of THC, you can still visit and buy a “virgin” beverage to check out the location.
If you decide you want to try the other products out, the affordable prices make it a non-committal option for exploring the effects of THC. At the end of the day, the High Crowd Cafe is playing a major role in normalizing the acceptance of recreational THC usage, making Madison even more inclusive.