The California Senate has approved an Assembly-passed bill to legalize marijuana cafes, allowing dispensaries to offer non-cannabis food and drinks at their location if they receive local approval.
The Senate advanced the legislation from Assemblymember Matt Haney (D) in a 33-3 vote on Thursday. Because it was slightly amended in a Senate committee, it must return to the Assembly for a concurrence vote before potentially heading to the governor’s desk.
Haney touted the “strong bipartisan support” the measure received on Thursday and said that concurrence would be a “quick” process.
My bill, AB 374, to allow for Cannabis Cafes in California just passed out of the Senate 33-3! Strong bipartisan support. A quick concurrence vote in the Assembly soon and then on to the Governor!
The bill will allow local governments to permit existing cannabis small… pic.twitter.com/RblZO3ubUl
— Matt Haney (@MattHaneySF) September 7, 2023
AB 374 would allow local governments to authorize cannabis consumption lounges to prepare and sell non-cannabis foods and soft drinks at their facilities. The sale of alcoholic beverages at the cannabis cafes would continue to be prohibited, as would smoking tobacco.
The legislation would further explicitly authorize “live musical or other performances on the premises of a retailer or microbusiness licensed under this division in the area where the consumption of cannabis is allowed, and the sale of tickets for those performances.”
Retailers and microbusinesses would be permitted to offer freshly prepared food and drinks, but the bill limits the sale of prepackaged food to retailers, which is consistent with regulations that the state’s Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) adopted late last year.
The bill was revised in the Assembly to make it explicitly clear that hemp-based food items or drinks are not considered “non-cannabis” products that could be sold at the cafes. It also now says that non-cannabis items “shall be stored and displayed separately and distinctly from all cannabis and cannabis products present on the premises.”
There have been examples of California businesses that have found workarounds to permit on-site consumption while making food available to guests—but they’ve operated in a grey area, partnering with separately licensed restaurants that receive the profits.
Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,000 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.
Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.
Meanwhile, lawmakers sent Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) a bill to legalize psychedelics for adults 21 and older on Thursday.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee also recently approved a Senate-passed bill that is meant to bolster protections for workers who use cannabis off the job. The panel adopted technical amendments to the measure from Sen. Steven Bradford (D), however, so it will go back to the Senate for concurrence if it is approved by the full Assembly.
The bill would build on existing employment protections enacted last session that bar employers from penalizing most workers for using cannabis in compliance with state law off the job.
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Rob Bonta (D) announced a new program last month aimed at curtailing the illicit market, and he also argued that the high tax rate for cannabis in the state is partly to blame for why illegal sales are continuing.
Bonta’s office has also been soliciting input from local government and cannabis industry groups as it works to finalize an opinion on the potential legal risks of authorizing interstate marijuana commerce under ongoing federal prohibition, documents obtained by Marijuana Moment show.