California Senate Committee Approves Assembly-Passed Bill to Legalize Marijuana Cafés

A key committee in the California Senate has approved legislation to legalize marijuana cafés, following its passage in the full Assembly.

The Senate’s Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee has voted 9 to 2 to pass Assembly Bill 1775, roughly three weeks after it passed the Assembly by a vote of 58 to 6. The measure will now be up for consideration by the full Senate.

Filed by State Representative Matt Haney (D), the proposed law would 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.”

Rep. Haney says “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.”

Haney says his proposal “will allow struggling cannabis businesses to diversify away from the marijuana-only ‘dispensary’ model and bring much-needed tourist dollars into empty downtowns”.

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.

If the measure is passed by the Senate, it will be sent to Governor Gavin Newson. 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.

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