California Assembly Votes 58 to 6 to Legalize Marijuana Cafés

California’s full Assembly has passed legislation to legalize marijuana cafés.

Assembly Bill 1775, filed by State Representative Matt Haney (D), was approved yesterday by California’s Assembly with an overwhelming vote of 58 to 6. The measure will now be sent to the Senate and, if approved, to Governor Gavin Newsom. In October, Newsom vetoed a similar bill. Despite this, Rep. Haney says he’s been told by the governor that “there’s a path forward” for the new iteration of the measure being enacted into law.

Assembly Bill 1775 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 diversify 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.

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