California Governor Vetoes Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafes

California Governor Vetoes Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafes

A customer buys marijuana in a coffee shop in the city centre of Amsterdam, Netherlands on Jan. 8, 2021. (Evert Elzinga/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

10/11/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

A California bill that would have allowed licensed cannabis retailers to sell food and drinks and host live events, in an effort to boost the legal cannabis market, was vetoed by Gov. Gavin Newsom Oct. 8.
“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,” Mr. Newsom said in a statement.
Authored by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), Assembly Bill 374 would have allowed local governments to license so-called cannabis cafes where food and beverages would be sold and consumed alongside marijuana, instead of being sold over the counter like a pharmacy.
The bill passed the Assembly in September on a 66–9 vote and the Senate the same month on a 34–3 vote.
In a statement following the governor’s decision, Mr. Haney contended that smoking cannabis is already allowed in licensed dispensaries, so the bill wouldn’t have affected the state’s smoke-free workplace laws.
Voters legalized smoking cannabis in such locations in 2016 with the passing of Prop 64.
“The voters of California have already decided to legalize 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,” Mr. Haney said in a social media post Oct. 9.
Mr. Haney further contended that the bill was “an attempt to level the playing field,” against the illegal black market.
Legal cannabis sales face a highly regulated and taxed industry, while illegal sales surpassed $8 billion in 2020, he said, double the legal sales the same year.
“If we keep allowing unnecessary regulations to strangle California’s legal cannabis businesses, we’re just encouraging illegal drug sales and all of the problems that come with that,” he said.
Smoking inside buildings is generally not allowed in California. But according to California code, marijuana stores are permitted to have smoking rooms, restricted to those 21 or older and must be out of sight from public view.
According to the bill’s text, cannabis stores would have also been allowed to have live music—or other ticketed entertainment performances—alongside food, beverages, and the consumption of marijuana or marijuana-infused products.
“This bill could essentially turn a cannabis establishment into a restaurant and potentially force workers to accept exposure to toxic chemicals in order to keep their jobs. Workers should not have to choose between their health and a good job,” those opposed to the bill, including national organizations such as the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association, said in a September Assembly analysis of the bill.
The bill will likely return to the California Legislature next year, as Mr. Newsom encouraged lawmakers to address his concerns in subsequent legislation, which Mr. Haney said he intends to do.
“I appreciate and respect the Governor’s concerns about worker’s 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 again next year,” Mr. Haney said in the same post.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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