California senators approve bill to legalize marijuana cafes where people can smoke, eat and watch events like concerts

A California Senate panel has approved a bill to legalize cannabis cafes in the state, months after the governor vetoed an earlier version of the proposal.

The Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee voted the legislation 9-2 on Monday, about three weeks after it cleared the full House.

Assemblymember Matt Haney (D) is again sponsoring the proposal, which would allow on-site marijuana consumption at licensed businesses that can also offer non-cannabis food and non-alcoholic beverages and host live events such as concerts if they receive permission from their local government.

Governor Gavin Newsom (D) vetoed the earlier version, saying that while he appreciated that the intent was to “provide cannabis retailers with more business opportunities and a way to attract new customers,” he “felt concerned that this bill could undermine California’s long run.” standing smoke-free workplace protections.”

“Protecting the health and safety of workers is of paramount importance,” the governor said at the time. “I encourage the author to address this concern in future legislation.”

Speaking to senators on Monday, Haney clarified that this bill would not legalize consumption lounges, but would instead let marijuana businesses add new revenue streams to the facilities already in use.

“Consumption lounges currently exist throughout the state of California, if approved by local government, and people are actively consuming cannabis in these lounges,” he said. “However, what is currently not allowed under existing law, and is completely prohibited, is the ability for cannabis retailers to diversify their business by selling food, drinks and an experience.”

“The cannabis industry is having a hard time. Issues like oversaturation, high taxes and a still-thriving black market are hurting cannabis companies that follow the rules and pay taxes,” Haney said. “By allowing cannabis retailers to diversify their operations, we are increasing revenue for California’s small businesses.”

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Changes to the bill from the version vetoed by the governor would create a “separation,” he said, between public consumption areas and back rooms of businesses where food is prepared or stored to better protect the health of employees, consistent with the recommendations of the governor. to assure.

The legislation would also allow local governments to decide whether to allow cannabis cafes to operate rather than automatically legalizing them statewide.

The bill makes it explicitly clear that hemp-based foods or drinks are not considered ‘non-cannabis’ products that could be sold in the cafes. It also states that non-cannabis items must be “stored and displayed separately and separately from all cannabis and cannabis products on the premises.”

The legislation would also allow live music or other performances on the premises of a cannabis store in areas where on-site consumption is permitted.

There are examples of California companies that have found solutions to allow on-site consumption while making food available to guests, but they have operated in a gray area and partnered with separately licensed restaurants that receive the profits.

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