Cal NORML-sponsored Cannabis Café Bill Moves to Senate Floor

UPDATE: AB 1775, the cannabis café bill sponsored by Cal NORML, passed the CA Sen. Business and Professions committee in a bipartisan 9-2-2 vote on Monday, June 10. The two No votes were from committee chair Angelique Ashby (D-Elk Grove) and co-chair Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach). Senators Roth, Archuleta, and Neillo expressed concerns about the bill at the hearing (viewable here). However, all except the chair said they would support it, with Niello adding he was “not happy about it.”

The bill’s author Asm. Matt Haney (D-SF) wrapped up saying, “This about giving local control and create jobs and revenue. However you feel about cannabis, I hope we can all get behind the bill.” He said the bill has amendments that require separation of food preparation and smoking areas to protect workers, and that his office is continuing to engage the Governor’s office about possible further amendments before the bill goes to the floor.

Pam Lopez, testifying for the Cal NORML, called AB 1775 a “quality of life” measure for cannabis consumers, as well as a safety measure, since those visiting lounges could have a sandwich and sober up before leaving. Adult loneliness is at an all-time high, Lopez said, and it affects the health of millions of cannabis consumers in California who don’t have places to consume with others.
Kristen Heidelbach of UFCW, also testifying in favor, said she appreciated the bill from a worker’s rights perspective and also as a parent, saying it would help keep people from consuming in parks and public settings where children are present. Representatives from the California Travel Association, the Origins Council, and Americans Alliance for Medical Cannabis and Americans for Safe Access added their support at the hearing.

The bill will now move to the Senate floor. Write to your State Senator in support of AB 1775, the California NORML-sponsored “cannabis café” bill to allow California cannabis lounges to sell food and event tickets.

AB 1775, the California NORML-sponsored “cannabis café” bill to allow California cannabis lounges to sell food and event tickets, made a media splash when it passed the Assembly floor by a vote of 58-6 on May 20. Thanks to all who took action to help pass this bill through the Assembly.

AB 1775 would give local governments the authority to allow cannabis retailers and microbusinesses that have licenses to operate cannabis consumption lounges to conduct additional business activities, such as preparing and selling non-cannabis-infused food, selling non-alcoholic beverages, and allowing, and selling tickets for, live musical or other performances.

Existing law does not allow cannabis lounges to engage in these activities, and  this puts them at a severe disadvantage compared to bars, clubs and other venues that can serve alcohol, not to mention illegal gatherings serving cannabis.

Cannabis consumers and tourists in California have limited places where they can socialize legally. Consumption is currently restricted to licensed cannabis lounges, which can’t serve coffee or fresh food, or provide entertainment.

The lack of socialization can have serious health consequences. A recent report from the US Surgeon General found that lacking social connection is as dangerous as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, or drinking 6 alcoholic drinks daily.

AB 1775 does not allow coffee shops to sell cannabis; instead, cannabis shops would be allowed to sell coffee. Existing cannabis businesses should be allowed to move away from exclusively selling marijuana products. Giving this industry the chance to grow will create jobs and help their cities and communities thrive, and in turn will benefit the medical patients and consumers who rely on industry products for pain and symptom management, or for recreation.

Local nuisance ordinances governing cannabis lounges have properly restricted odors from other spaces, and AB 1775 has been amended to require food preparation and smoking areas to be separated, in order to answer worker-safety objections raised by the Governor Newsom when he vetoed a similar bill last year.

The Los Angeles Times’s opinion columnist LZ Granderson editorialized:

Bring on the cannabis cafes.⁩ More Americans now consume marijuana on a daily basis than drink alcohol every day, according to a recent study. In short: “Just say no” is dead. Long live “pass the dutchie ’pon the left-hand side.” The next important step in having policy actually reflect society would be for Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign the “munchie bill” that’s likely to be headed his way soon.

In the SF Chronicle, columnist Drew Magary visited a San Francisco cannabis lounge and reported:

But first, a quick clarification. These consumption lounges are not full-service cafes. They can’t sell food, or even nonalcoholic drinks like Amsterdam’s weed cafes. A proposed bill that Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed last year, which just passed the state Assembly again with an overwhelming bipartisan vote, would allow these spaces to actually sell food alongside gummies, pre-rolls, dimebags, dabs and weed-infused blocks of gouda cheese. So for now, Cali’s current hash bars don’t tick off every box on a stoner’s wish list, but they can offer a tantalizing glimpse of what a fully armed and operational weed scene could look like….Imagine scores of weed cafes popping up all across this gorgeous country, starting right here in California. Starbucks, but with weed. And with better food. I can see it in my head right now, and it delights me to no end. So don’t kill my buzz, Gavin. You’re fighting a battle that you’ll never win.

Track AB 1775 and watch its hearings.

Please write to your State Senator in support of AB 1775

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