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Could Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes be coming to California? Bill is sent to governor

Residents and travelers to California can already visit cannabis dispensaries to buy legal weed. They can even consume their purchases on-site, but usually in an environment more akin to a pharmacy than a relaxing hangout.

But an Amsterdam-style café experience – complete with coffee and snacks served alongside legal weed – could be in the offing throughout the state.

Assembly Bill 374 is waiting on Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom’s signature to become law. It passed the California Senate in a 33-to-3 vote and the Assembly in a final vote of 66 to 9 on Monday.

Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill, framed the issue around tax revenues.

“Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others,” Haney said in a news release this week. “And many people want to do that while sipping coffee, eating a scone, or listening to music. There’s absolutely no good reason from an economic, health, or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal.”

What the cannabis bill allows – and what it doesn’t

If a host of state regulations and requirements are met, the bill permits the following:

• Preparation or sale of noncannabis food or beverage products (such as pastries and coffee) at licensed dispensaries.
• Live musical or other performances on the premises.

However, there are restrictions the state has put in place in the bill. They include:

• Access to the area where cannabis consumption is allowed would be restricted to people 21 or older.
• The pot consumption can’t be within view of a public area.
• Sales of alcohol or tobacco won’t be permitted on the premises.
• Coffee shops will not be allowed to sell cannabis.

If Newsom signs the bill, it would go into effect in January 2024. Local jurisdictions would still have the authority to regulate the businesses.

The Los Angeles Times newspaper reported that the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network opposes the bill and is urging Newsom to use his veto power.

“Allowing marijuana smoking in public places and expanding where smoking is allowed undermines the effectiveness of California’s smoke-free law and compromises its enforcement,” the group’s legislative director, Autumn Ogden-Smith, said in a statement reported in the paper.

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