Transforming Legislation: Matt Haney’s Stride Towards Change
In a noteworthy advancement for the California cannabis industry, Assembly member Matt Haney’s (D-San Francisco) bill, advocating for the establishment of Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes, has gained solid bipartisan support.
This novel bill has successfully emerged from the State Assembly, receiving an impressive 64 to 9 vote, signalling a potential shift in California’s cannabis law.
Cannabis Cafes: Emulating the Dutch Model
Cannabis cafes in the Netherlands have achieved substantial popularity by offering a sociable cannabis experience, complemented by amenities such as coffee, food, and live music.
Unfortunately, such experiences are currently forbidden under California law. However, the enactment of Haney’s AB 374 could serve as a lifeline for struggling cannabis businesses, enabling them to diverge from the existing marijuana-centric “dispensary” model.
This shift could stimulate local economies, inviting tourism and rejuvenating dormant down town areas.
“Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others…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. If an authorized cannabis retail store wants to also sell a cup of coffee and a sandwich, we should allow cities to make that possible and stop holding back these small businesses.”
Cannabis Cultures: California vs Amsterdam
California is globally recognized as a frontrunner in the cannabis culture, owing to its trailblazing initiatives towards medical cannabis and notable cultivation expertise.
Yet, it faces stiff competition from Amsterdam, often considered the world capital of cannabis, boasting over 700 cannabis cafes.
Conversely, California grapples with the unforeseen repercussions of its long-standing medical marijuana-only policies.
The socially dynamic Amsterdam-style cannabis scene has been largely supplanted by impersonal, pharmacy-like dispensaries. These outlets restrict customers to purchase cannabis only, limiting potential growth and customer experience.
The Struggle of California’s Small Cannabis Businesses
“California’s small cannabis businesses are struggling,” says Haney. “Issues like over-saturation, high taxes, and the thriving black market are hurting cannabis businesses who follow the rules and pay taxes.”
Although consuming cannabis on-site at retailers is technically permitted in California, the sale of non-cannabis-infused products isn’t.
Haney’s AB 374 offers a simple, yet revolutionary solution, allowing cannabis retailers to diversify their offerings and evolve from the struggling dispensary model.
“To be clear, we’re not saying that coffee shops should be allowed to sell cannabis,” clarified Assembly member Matt Haney.
“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.”
The Future of AB 374
The landmark AB 374 is now slated to proceed to the Senate for approval, following which it will be presented to the governor for final endorsement.
This bill holds the potential to redefine the future of the cannabis industry in California, paving the way for a more diversified and economically stable cannabis sector.