Californians will soon have the opportunity to enjoy their favorite snacks alongside their cannabis, thanks to a new bill that aims to introduce Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes in the Golden State.
A proposed bill that sought to legalize cannabis cafes in California, mirroring the successful model established in Amsterdam to expand and diversify the marijuana industry in the state, finally arrived on the desk of Gov. Gavin Newsom this week, who also has to sign a bill that would legalize certain psychedelics in the state.
Introduced by Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) in February, the bill would allow marijuana dispensaries and cannabis lounges in California to offer food and beverages and host live music events, much like the cannabis coffee shops in Amsterdam.
This initiative seeks to support marijuana businesses in a fiercely competitive market by allowing them to diversify, akin to the renowned Amsterdam-style cannabis coffee shops that draw marijuana enthusiasts visiting the Dutch capital. In Dutch cannabis cafes, customers can purchase food and non-alcoholic beverages alongside their cannabis products.
Currently, in California, there are a few cannabis lounges primarily found in San Francisco and Oakland. However, they have limitations. These lounges can only offer cannabis products and can’t provide any other items like food. Nevertheless, some businesses have been finding ways to offer on-site consumption and food to their customers. They’ve been doing this in a gray area, collaborating with separate licensed restaurants.
Assembly Bill 374 proposes changes for dispensaries. Instead of just selling marijuana products and accessories, it would allow cities and counties to allow cannabis businesses to sell things like food and beverages and host live music. However, they cannot sell alcohol.
The bill was amended to clarify that hemp-based food items or drinks are not categorized as “non-cannabis” products that can be sold at the cafes. It also specifies that non-cannabis items must be kept and shown separately from all cannabis and cannabis products on the premises.
The legislation is currently awaiting approval from Gov. Newsom. It received strong bipartisan support, passing the California Senate with a vote of 33 to 3 last week and the Assembly with a vote of 66 to 9 on Monday, September 11.
After Gov. Newsom signs the bill, local governments can allow cannabis cafes or consumption lounges to offer soft drinks and freshly prepared food at their dispensaries. However, these establishments will still have restrictions on selling prepackaged food to retailers. Selling alcoholic beverages and smoking tobacco will remain prohibited.
If Gov. Newsom approves it, the law will become effective in January.
Haney’s proposal to introduce cannabis cafes in California seems to contrast with the current situation in Amsterdam, where the city council has recently taken action due to complaints from local residents regarding this type of tourism.
The “Cannabis Cafe” bill has been introduced at a time when public support for marijuana legalization is increasing, with a significant number of people acknowledging their use of the substance.
According to a Gallup survey released last month, 50% of Americans stated that they have experimented with marijuana at some point in their lives.