California Bill to Legalize Marijuana Cafes Moved to Second Reading in Senate, Already Passed Assembly

Legislation to legalize marijuana cafes in California has been amended in the second and ordered to a second reading.

In June the California Senate passed a bill to legalize marijuana cafes through its second reading, moving it to its third and final reading. Yesterday the Senate amended the bill and ordered it back to its second reading. The proposal has already been passed by the full Assembly, but will need to go back for one final vote if it’s passed by the Senate through a third reading, given it was amended.

Assembly Bill 374 would authorize locations where marijuana and marijuana products, as well as other food and drink products, can be purchased and consumed. The measure would also allow marijuana stores to hold live entertainment events.

The measure was approved in an overwhelming 64 to 9 vote on May 31 through the California Assembly.

According to its legislative digest, this bill would authorize a local jurisdiction “to allow for the preparation or sale of noncannabis food or beverage products, as specified, by a licensed retailer or microbusiness in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed, to allow for the sale of prepackaged, noncannabis-infused, nonalcoholic food and beverages by a licensed retailer, and to allow, and to sell tickets for, live musical or other performances on the premises. of a licensed retailer or microbusiness in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed.”

“Cannabis cafes in the Netherlands capitalize on the social experience of cannabis by offering coffee, food, and live music, all of those opportunities are currently illegal under California law,” says Assembly Member Matt Haney, the bill’s prime sponsor. “AB 374 will allow struggling cannabis businesses to diversity away from the marijuana-only ‘dispensary’ model and bring much needed tourist dollars into empty downtowns.”

Haney says “Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others. And many people want to do that while sipping coffee, eating a scone, or listening to music. There’s absolutely no good reason from an economic, health, or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal.”

Under current California law cannabis consumption lounges are not allowed to sell freshly prepared food, a rule that many call arbitrary and unnecessary. A November 2022 rules change allowed lounges to offer prepackaged food and beverages on a limited basis, but nothing freshly made or beverages ready to be consumed without opening.

Assembly Bill 374 would change this by explicitly allowing licensed marijuana consumption sites to that sell freshly made foods and beverages and host live events such as concerts and seminars. Some are dubbing this the “cannabis café” bill, as it would introduce Amsterdam-style locations that allow for marijuana to be consumed and food and beverages to be purchased such as coffee, tea and sandwiches.

The full text of Assembly Bill 374 can be found by clicking here.

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