California may soon see the legalization of cannabis cafes, a potential game-changer for the state’s budding cannabis industry, pending approval from Governor Gavin Newsom.
The current law prohibits cannabis smoke lounges from serving non-cannabis-infused drinks and food. However, Assembly Bill 374 (AB-374), which has garnered substantial bipartisan support, aims to alter this restriction.
AB-374, now awaiting the governor’s signature, would enable local jurisdictions to grant licenses for Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes within dispensaries.
While some cities already permit cannabis smoke lounges, the prohibition on selling conventional food and beverages inside has limited their offerings.
California’s cannabis industry has faced challenges, including high tax rates and limited banking options, which disadvantage small dispensaries. The thriving black market is also posing a threat to compliant, tax-paying businesses.
Assemblymember Matt Haney, the bill’s author, believes AB-374 could help revive 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.
Haney envisions these cannabis cafes as social spaces similar to those in the Netherlands, offering coffee, food, and even live music. Such changes could also bolster smaller dispensaries by creating more job opportunities and enhancing the overall consumer experience.
But not everyone is on board with this initiative. Groups like the American Non-Smokers Rights Foundation have voiced concerns, arguing that the proposed law jeopardizes smoke-free protections.
The fate of AB-374 now rests with Governor Newsom. If signed into law, it would take effect next year, potentially paving the way for a unique and vibrant cannabis cafe culture in California.