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Politics & Policy

Food and music at your cannabis cafe? This California lawmaker wants to make it happen

Customers stand at counter at cannabis store
The Russian Hill Cannabis Club in San Francisco is a cannabis dispensary with a lounge. | Camille Cohen/The Standard

If at first you don’t succeed, try again—that’s what San Francisco’s Assemblymember Matt Haney is doing with a bill to legalize “Amsterdam-Style” cannabis cafes in California, a measure vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year. 

The new bill, AB 1775, would legalize California businesses where customers can enjoy food, nonalcoholic beverages and entertainment with their cannabis. It’s just like last year’s iteration of the bill, AB 374, which was vetoed by Newsom in October; he cited “California’s long-standing smoke-free workplace protections,” which, he argued, could be “undermined” by the bill.

AB 374 passed through the Legislature with strong and bipartisan support last year, with votes of 64-9 in favor in the Assembly and 33-3 in favor in the state Senate

Haney introduced the original bill to help struggling cannabis dispensaries reinvigorate their businesses by combining on-site partaking of cannabis with food, coffee and entertainment that is currently prohibited. The end result would be to introduce a new type of business similar to the cannabis cafes in Holland.

Haney promised to reintroduce the bill last year and noted his intent to respect workplace protections in today’s announcement.

In a text to The Standard, Haney explained that the new version of the bill will eventually include amendments to allay Newsom’s concerns, “which will be worked out in the coming months.” 

“[Gov. Newsom’s] office let me know they believe there is a path forward,” Haney said in the text.  “We are in conversation with his departments about what exactly that will include,” he added, noting that San Francisco currently has regulations for smoking lounges that require the separation of smoking and other working areas such as kitchens, as well as ventilation requirements. 

“To be clear, we’re not saying that coffee shops should be allowed to sell cannabis; we’re saying that cannabis shops should be allowed to sell coffee,” Haney explained in a statement Thursday. 

“It shouldn’t be illegal for an existing cannabis business that already allows onsite smoking to move away from only selling marijuana and instead have the opportunity to grow and create jobs by offering coffee or live jazz,” he added.