SACRAMENTO – Cannabis cafes could soon become legal in California – that is, if the governor signs the bill into law.
Right now, it's illegal for cannabis smoke lounges to sell drinks and food that don't have pot in them. But this new legislation could change that.
AB-374 is now in the hands of Gov. Gavin Newsom after passing through with broad bipartisan support.
The bill would allow local jurisdictions to license Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes at dispensaries.
"It would help us create a more welcoming environment, more of a lounge if you will, for our consumers," said Haley Andrew, owner of the Dixon Wellness Collective.
Cannabis smoke lounges are already legal in some cities. But selling food and drinks inside is not.
"This would entice people to stay and also help us promote our business with revenue as well," Andrew said.
There is already concern about California's cannabis industry. High tax rates and a lack of banking options put small dispensaries at a disadvantage.
Meanwhile, a thriving black market is hurting businesses that follow the rules and pay taxes.
Bill writer, Assemblymember Matt Haney, says this may help reverse the damages to the industry.
"If we can provide an experience that Californians actually want, which is consuming a legal product with other safely, we need to change our laws," Haney said.
So what would it look like?
Assemblymember Haney says it could be a social experience – something similar you would see at "cannabis cafes" in the Netherlands. That means coffee, food, and even live music.
Andrews says the changes could even help smaller dispensaries grow.
"I really think it would help create more jobs," Andrew said. "There would be more people there to help our consumers, so that's always a step in the right direction when it comes to cannabis."
Meantime, groups like the American Non-Smokers Rights Foundation opposed this bill – saying the proposed law threatens smoke-free protections.
The bill is now on the governor's desk. If signed, it will go into law next year.
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