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High Time in California: Assembly Greenlights Bill for Marijuana Cafes to Blaze a New Path

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In a decisive 59-9 vote, the California Assembly has approved a groundbreaking bill that legalizes marijuana cafes, permitting dispensaries to offer non-cannabis food and beverages at their locations upon receiving local approval.

Assembly member Matt Haney (D), the driving force behind the legislation, passionately addressed the chamber, highlighting the challenges faced by the struggling legal cannabis industry. Issues such as oversaturation, exorbitant taxes, and a thriving black market have hindered law-abiding cannabis businesses. Haney's AB 374 grants local governments the power to authorize the preparation and sale of non-cannabis edibles and soft drinks in licensed cannabis consumption lounges. It's crucial to note that this measure does not permit coffee shops to sell cannabis; instead, it allows cannabis shops to sell coffee, subject to pre-approval by local governments.

Haney emphasized that existing cannabis businesses should not be restricted to solely selling marijuana. With AB 374, they can diversify their offerings, fostering growth, prosperity, and job creation, such as by providing coffee or hosting live jazz performances. However, the legislation maintains the prohibition on selling alcoholic beverages and smoking tobacco at cannabis cafes. Notably, the bill explicitly authorizes the presence of live musical performances and the sale of tickets in areas where cannabis consumption is allowed.

While retailers and microbusinesses will be allowed to offer freshly prepared food and drinks, the sale of prepackaged food will be limited to retailers, aligning with the regulations set forth by the state's Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) in late 2022. Currently, some California businesses have operated in a gray area, collaborating with separately licensed restaurants to enable on-site consumption while providing food to guests. Haney pointed out the irony of the current law, which restricts cannabis shops to solely selling drugs, and expressed the belief that businesses should have the freedom to expand beyond that model and sell items like muffins and coffee. By granting this flexibility, the bill aims to support small businesses while affording local governments the autonomy to make decisions in their jurisdictions.

 

Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.