California Gov. Gavin Newsom has vetoed a bill that would have opened the door for cannabis businesses to serve food and nonalcoholic drinks.
The bill, AB 374, was authored by Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco. It would have permitted local city governments to decide whether to allow small cannabis retailers to "diversify their businesses with food and nonalcoholic drinks," Haney told The Standard in September.
Haney initially announced the bill in early February and cited the 700 cannabis cafes across the Netherlands, which typically draw 1.5 million tourists each year to the famously tolerant nation widely regarded as the world’s cannabis paradise.
Additionally, the legislation would have given small cannabis businesses the green light for live music and other performances.
But Newsom rejected the bill, saying: "I appreciate the author's intent to provide cannabis retailers with increased business opportunities and an avenue to attract new customers. However, I am concerned this bill could undermine California's long-standing smoke-free workplace protections."
He added: "Protecting the health and safety of workers is paramount. I encourage the author to address this concern in subsequent legislation. For this reason, I cannot sign this bill."
Haney responded to news of the veto with a tweet:
Later, Haney released a statement about the veto. He vowed to re-introduce the bill next year. He noted that California voters have already legalized the smoking of cannabis in public dispensaries.
“AB 374 just allows businesses where smoking is already happening to sell coffee and food and hold live shows," he said. "I appreciate and respect the governor's concerns about workers' health. And I’m looking forward to working closely with his office and with labor leaders to make sure we get this right when I introduce the bill next year.”
Haney said California was allowing "unnecessary regulations" to strangle legal cannabis businesses and continuing to do so was “encouraging illegal drug sales and all of the problems that come with that.”
“So much of the world's cannabis culture comes from right here in California,” added Haney. “Californians are proud of our state's wine culture, and we do everything we can to make sure that our winemakers receive the support they need—we need to be doing the exact same thing for cannabis. If we don’t start better supporting these businesses, we are going to lose decades of being at the forefront of the cannabis movement, and other states will be ready to swoop in and take it from us.”
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