Californians might soon experience the charm of Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes in their very own backyard.
California’s Pending Transformation
On the brink of a radical change, California stands just one signature away from Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes spreading across the state by next year.
Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafes on the Horizon
A bill, currently awaiting final approval from Gov. Gavin Newsom, proposes that weed dispensaries turn into welcoming cafes.
This transformation would not only grant them the license to sell cannabis but also to delight their customers with food, beverages, and live music.
The legislation recently sailed through the California Senate with a resounding 33-to-3 vote.
It subsequently garnered strong support in the Assembly, clinching a final tally of 66 to 9 on Monday.
Matt Haney’s Vision for the Cannabis Café Model
Assemblyman Matt Haney, the driving force behind this transformative bill, shed light on the potential benefits.
Haney remarked that this legislation might be the lifeline that struggling dispensaries need, offering a boost in sales tax revenue.
Breaking the Legal Barriers
Current laws present an issue. While customers can consume cannabis within a dispensary, it is a legal violation for these establishments to serve non-cannabis products like food or coffee.
Assembly Bill 374’s Promise of a Welcoming Atmosphere
Haney’s Assembly Bill 374 promises a refreshing change to this rigid model, permitting a more flexible and welcoming atmosphere for dispensaries.
Clear Boundaries in the Bill
However, the bill maintains a clear line, prohibiting the sale of alcohol in these cafes and barring coffee shops from peddling cannabis.
Local regulations still hold the reins, and these cafes can’t spring up where cannabis shops are banned.
Dispensaries Can’t Sprout Up Everywhere
In Haney’s words, “Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others.”
His sentiments captured the essence of the bill, which advocates for the coexistence of cannabis consumption alongside regular café activities like sipping coffee or savoring a scone.
Economic, Health, and Safety Benefits of Integrated Cafes
Haney talked about the economic, health, and safety benefits of this integrated model, emphasizing that “there’s absolutely no good reason from an economic, health, or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal.”
A Glimpse of the Netherlands
Drawing parallels with the Netherlands, where over 700 coffee shops successfully sell cannabis, generating sales in excess of a billion dollars annually, Haney’s intent becomes clear.
He imagines a shift from a purely medical marijuana culture to a relaxed ambiance echoing Dutch cafes.
The Road Ahead for Cannabis Cafes
He expressed his optimism about ushering in a new era, stating, “There’s just a huge opportunity to bring people into these establishments to consume cannabis safely and legally and to create community and culture at the same time.”
West Hollywood’s Limited Cannabis Lounge Program
West Hollywood has previously dipped its toes into this concept, launching a limited cannabis lounge program in 2018 and handing licenses out to a few select establishments.
However, these lounges are currently hindered by strict regulations that prohibit them from preparing food on their premises.
Challenges Faced by Cannabis Lounges in Preparing Food
This has led to innovative solutions, with cafes collaborating with outside kitchens to allow patrons to dine on their premises.
High Economic Potential
With such establishments facing stiff competition from not only restaurants and bars but also the growing illegal market, Haney emphasized the need for a rethink.
He critically evaluated the existing regulations, terming them as “arbitrary and irrational.” He emphasized the potential harm these rules could inflict on the legalized cannabis industry, which he believes is crucial for California’s economic well-being.
Awaiting Gov. Newsom’s Decision
As the state keenly awaits Gov. Newsom’s decision, a potential revolution hovers on the horizon.
Should he get approval, Californians could be ringing in the New Year with the aroma of weed mingling with the scent of freshly brewed coffee.
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Source: La times