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New Bill Would Expand California Consumption Lounge Offerings

Ed Knight

By Ed Knight

February 14, 2023

A

lawmaker wants to bring a taste of Amsterdam to the Golden State. 

Matt Haney, a Democratic assemblyman from San Francisco, filed legislation earlier this month that would help promote so-called “cannabis cafes” in

, where recreational cannabis has been legal since voters approved a ballot measure in 2016.

“It’s not unlike a neighborhood bar or cafe where people gather and get a lot of social value [out] of that,”

. “We’re allowing in many places on-site consumption of cannabis, but they’re pretty sad places right now because you can’t eat or drink.”

“If an authorized cannabis retail store wants to sell someone cannabis, a cup of tea and a sandwich, we should allow cities to make that possible and stop holding back our economy and a service that people want. Those things are all illegal under state law now,”

.

, local jurisdictions in California “may allow the retailer or microbusiness to conduct business activities on the premises other than the smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting of cannabis or cannabis products, including, but not limited to, selling non-cannabis-infused food, selling nonalcoholic beverages, and allowing, and selling tickets for, live musical or other performances.”

In other words, per the Los Angeles Times, the measure would allow for food and nonalcoholic beverages to be sold at cannabis lounges and retailers, while alcohol would not be allowed at such cannabis cafes. It would also allow for live performances at the establishments.

Haney said his proposal could be a shot in the arm for California’s beleaguered legal marijuana industry.

, he “compared the possibilities to Amsterdam, the Dutch city where marijuana is decriminalized and available at coffee shops, which has been a major tourism boon,” but he “noted that his bill would not allow existing coffee shops to sell marijuana, but licensed marijuana retailers to sell coffee.”

California Consumption Lounges to Save the Industry?

California’s legal marijuana crop lost nearly 40% of its value in 2021,

, as the regulated industry continues to struggle to keep pace with the illicit cannabis trade in the state.

“If we want this legal industry to survive in California, we have to change these laws. They’re losing to the illegal cannabis industry, and one thing that the legal cannabis small business can offer is an experience,”

. “Cannabis businesses told us that they may have to close their doors unless the laws change. The regulations that prohibit them from offering other products like food are a huge burden.”

Some existing cannabis consumption lounges in the state have found workarounds to serve customers food and drink.

, “one of the two consumption lounges/dispensaries [in West Hollywood] — the Artist Tree Studio Cannabis Lounge — already sells food from an outside vendor and hosts live events like stand-up comedy and drag brunches.”

“For decades, West Hollywood officials leaned towards cannabis-friendly policies and will likely welcome the loosened restrictions. Palm Springs also holds a similar stance with 10 consumption lounges that vastly outnumber West Hollywood’s,” according to

As Haney put it, “there is absolutely no good reason from an economic, health, safety or fairness standpoint that the state should make those things illegal.”

“Many people want to consume cannabis legally while socializing with others, and many want to do it while drinking coffee, eating a muffin or listening to music,” the lawmaker told

.

Haney also expressed hope that, should the bill make it to Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s desk, it would be signed.

“I hope that the governor, as a small-business owner himself in the past who has been involved in the hospitality industry, can now see this as an opportunity,” Haney told

.

Ed Knight

About The Author

Ed Knight

HIGH THERE MISSION

WE’RE A CREATIVE COMMUNITY — EXPLORING THE SCIENCE, CRAFT, AND CULTURE OF CANNABIS.
WE BELIEVE THAT WE HAVE A COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TOWARDS ERADICATING THE STIGMA, MISINFORMATION, AND INEQUITIES SURROUNDING THIS PLANT, SO WE CAN UNLOCK ITS TRUE POTENTIAL FOR ALL.