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Bill to legalize Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes in California heads to Gov. Newsom's desk

Growing concerns about California's cannabis industry
Growing concerns about California's cannabis industry 01:57

SAN FRANCISCO – A Bay Area lawmaker's bill that would legalize Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes in California is heading to Gov. Gavin Newsom's desk, after being approved by the legislature.

Assembly Bill 374 by Asm. Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) would allow cannabis businesses to sell non-cannabis food items and tickets to live performances. The measure passed the State Senate in a 33-3 vote and in the Assembly with a 66-9 vote.

"Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others," Haney said in a statement. "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."

Haney, who introduced AB374 in February, billed the measure as a lifeline for struggling cannabis businesses, which continue to face challenges from the black market. While legal sales reached $4 billion in 2020, illicit cannabis sales were estimated at over $8 billion, according to data from Haney's office.

Over 700 cannabis cafes are in operation in the Netherlands, a country with less than half the population of California. The establishments generate more than $1 billion in sales each year.

"To be clear, we're not saying that coffee shops should be allowed to sell cannabis," said Haney. "We're saying that cannabis shops should be allowed to sell coffee. It shouldn't be illegal for an existing cannabis business to move away from only selling marijuana and instead have the opportunity to grow, and create jobs by offering coffee or live jazz."  

According to Haney, cafes would only be allowed to open in cities and counties that pass legislation allowing such establishments. So far, only West Hollywood has passed legislation creating a licensing system for cannabis cafes.

Meanwhile, a similar measure is working through the legislative process in San Francisco, Haney said.

If signed by Newsom, AB374 would go into effect on January 1, 2024.

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