California Lawmakers Approve Bill To Legalize Marijuana Cafes, Months After Governor’s Veto Of Earlier Measure | Turn 420
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California Lawmakers Approve Bill To Legalize Marijuana Cafes, Months After Governor’s Veto Of Earlier Measure

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California lawmakers have approved a bill to legalize cannabis cafes in the state, months after the governor vetoed a previous iteration of the proposal.

The Assembly passed the legislation in a vote of 58-6 vote on Monday, sending it to the Senate for consideration.

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

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

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

Speaking on the Assembly floor on Monday, Haney said the new legislation “supports our legal small businesses that just want to diversify their businesses and do the right thing.”

“The illicit illegal market is continuing to grow and thrive while our legal cannabis market is struggling,” he said. “Small businesses and local governments that want to authorize simply allowing existing cannabis lounges—which already exist in law—to be able to serve food should be able to do so.”

The lawmaker said he and other supporters of the current bill have been working to address the governor’s concerns with the prior version, saying that “we’ve already taken a number of amendments.”

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New changes create a “separation,” he said, between public consumption spaces and back rooms of businesses where food is prepared or stored in order to better protection the health of workers in line with the governor’s concerns.

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

The bill makes explicitly clear that hemp-based food items or drinks are not considered “non-cannabis” products that could be sold at the cafes. It also says that non-cannabis items “shall be stored and displayed separately and distinctly from all cannabis and cannabis products present on the premises.”

The legislation would also allow live musical or other performances on the premises of a cannabis retailer in areas where on-site consumption is allowed.

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.



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