Second California Committee Votes in Favor of Legalizing Marijuana Cafés

Legislation to legalize marijuana cafés in California has been passed by a second committee in the state’s Assembly.

Assembly Bill 1775, filed by Rep. Matt Haney (D), was given approval yesterday by the Committee on Governmental Organization, with the vote being 13 to 2. The measure, which now heads to a third and final reading of the full Assembly, was passed through the Committee on Business and Professions earlier this month 14 to 2.

The proposed law would “authorize a local jurisdiction, if specified conditions are met, 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, 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.”

The bill would additionally “specify that these provisions do not authorize a licensed retailer or microbusiness to prepare or sell industrial hemp or products containing industrial hemp”.

“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 primary 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.

In October, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a similar bill, but Rep. Haney says he’s been told “there’s a path forward” to the new iteration of the measure being enacted into law.

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