Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes may soon be making their way to California as Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, introduces a bill in the California Legislature to allow weed shops to serve food and coffee and host live music events. Assembly Bill 374 aims to diversify struggling pot businesses in a saturated market and promote growth for small businesses.
Benefits Of The Bill
According to Haney’s office, the 700 cannabis cafes in the Netherlands attract over 1.5 million visitors annually, making it a potential tourist draw for California. The bill aims to turn cannabis consumption into a social experience where customers can purchase food and drinks alongside their cannabis. Haney emphasized that this would create jobs and promote growth for small businesses.
“Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others,” said Haney. “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,” added Haney.
Current Status Of Cannabis Lounges
There are currently 13 cannabis lounges in San Francisco, but they cannot serve non-cannabis-infused products. Assembly Bill 374 would change that, allowing these spaces to function similarly to wine bars or pubs, though purchasing alcohol would still be prohibited. This bill aims to reclaim California’s position as the international capital of pot and move away from the pharmaceutical approach to dispensary operation policies that the state is currently facing.
Challenges Facing The Cannabis Industry
California’s cannabis businesses are struggling due to over-saturation, high taxes, and the thriving black market, which hurts cannabis businesses that follow the rules and pay taxes. The introduction of Assembly Bill 374 could help businesses compete with illegal sellers who sell weed at lower prices due to tax and permitting policies that they circumvent.
Promoting Growth For Small Businesses
Assembly Member Haney emphasized the need for cannabis cafes to offer more than just cannabis. “We’re saying that cannabis shops should be allowed to sell coffee. It shouldn’t be illegal for an existing cannabis business to move away from only selling marijuana and instead have the opportunity to grow, thrive, and create jobs by offering coffee or live jazz,” said Haney.
Towards A Social Experience
The bill hopes to bring Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes to California, offering customers a social experience while enjoying legal cannabis. The 700 cannabis cafes across the Netherlands attract over 1.5 million visitors annually, and California hopes to replicate this success. With Assembly Bill 374, the state could turn cannabis consumption into a social experience and tourism draw for empty downtowns.
Normalizing Cannabis Use
The bill would allow for the creation of cannabis cafes that could serve food and coffee and host live music events, making it a social experience for customers. The bill would also help small businesses compete with illegal sellers who sell weed at cheaper prices by offering more than just cannabis and creating jobs. The bill hopes to turn California into a hub for cannabis consumption, much like Amsterdam.
Reclaiming California’s Position
The introduction of Assembly Bill 374 is a step towards a more progressive and accepting approach to cannabis use. The bill would allow cannabis lounges to function more like wine bars or pubs, as it would allow them to offer a social experience, food, drinks, and live music events. In turn, this would provide a new source of revenue and create more job opportunities.
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