Monday, April 15, 2024

Cannabis Cafés in California: The Bill on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Desk Explained

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California May Soon Have Cannabis Cafés: What You Need to Know

California is considering a new law that would allow marijuana dispensaries to become like Amsterdam-style cannabis cafés. This means people could enjoy both cannabis products and food or drinks in these places.

The bill is awaiting approval from Governor Gavin Newsom, and it has strong support from both Democrats and Republicans. It passed in the California Senate with a vote of 33 to 3 and in the Assembly with a vote of 66 to 9.

The lawmaker behind this bill, Assemblyman Matt Haney from San Francisco, believes it would benefit local businesses and increase the state’s sales tax revenue.

So, California might soon see a new kind of café where you can relax and enjoy cannabis alongside a meal.”

“Many folks want to share the experience of legal cannabis with friends,” Haney said. “Some prefer to do it over a cup of coffee, a snack, or while enjoying music. There’s really no valid reason, whether it’s about money, health, or safety, for the state to ban this.”

Haney’s office did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment on Wednesday.

What can dispensaries do under this bill?

As the public increasingly supports marijuana legalization and more people admit to trying the drug, a new bill is making its way. According to a recent Gallup survey, a record 50% of Americans have tried marijuana at some point.

This bill, known as Assembly Bill 374, takes inspiration from cannabis cafés in Amsterdam and the Netherlands. It aims to change how dispensaries operate. Instead of just selling marijuana products and related items, this bill would allow local governments like cities and counties to give licenses to cannabis businesses. These businesses could then sell things like food, coffee, and even host live music events. However, it would not permit dispensaries to sell alcohol, and coffee shops wouldn’t be allowed to sell cannabis.

If Governor Newsom approves the bill, it would start in January.

A West Hollywood café made history by becoming the first to permit cannabis smoking.

“In 2018, West Hollywood introduced its own program for cannabis lounges, allowing only a few licenses. This happened two years after recreational marijuana became legal in California.

In 2019, Lowell Cafe, now known as The Original Cannabis Cafe, made history as the first restaurant in the United States where people could openly smoke marijuana. The café had a stylish atmosphere with vintage photos, wooden decor, and high ceilings, similar to other trendy Los Angeles lounges.

Even though it served a diverse menu, including items like fried chicken sandwiches, banh mi, and vegan nachos, Lowell Cafe had to find a workaround. California law only permits dispensaries to sell cannabis products, so the café technically operated as a dispensary on the state level while being a “cannabis consumption lounge” locally. They kept their kitchen and dining area separate from the cannabis area and issued separate bills for food and cannabis.

Assemblyman Haney believes that such rules are holding back businesses and should disappear if the governor signs the bill into law.”

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