Increased legalization is causing entrepreneurs to come up with creative ways to sell cannabis items. Cannabis cafes are the latest trend. But they require legislative measures before they come to your state.

An interior shot of a cafe with chairs near the bar with wooden tables

California cafes are currently pending approval from Gov. Gavin Newstead. If the bill passes, dispensaries will be permitted to convert their businesses into cafes that serve food, drink, and cannabis. Find out more about the issue.

Cannabis Cafes Gain Support

The bill to allow cannabis cafes has gained overwhelming support. The California Senate backs them with a 33 to 3 vote. The Assembly weighed in with a 66 to 9 vote.

The bill was developed by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D- San Francisco). He feels it will improve California business and tax revenue.

“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,” Haney said.

The assemblyman noted that the Netherlands attracts over 1.5 million tourists who travel to experience its cannabis cafes. The country hosts over 700 lounges that generate an income of more than $1 billion annually.

He is hoping to generate similar income for the state of California. In addition to boosting the state’s economy, it will also help legal businesses outpace illegal dispensaries.

If Newsom approves the bill, it will go into effect in January.

What the Cannabis Café Bill Means for Dispensaries

The cannabis café bill is a sign of the growing legalization and approval of cannabis among the masses. A recent Gallup survey shows that a record 50% of Americans report using marijuana at some point in their lives.

The bill would allow dispensaries to model their businesses after cannabis cafes in Amsterdam and other parts of the Netherlands. It would allow them to sell food, coffee, and other beverages alongside marijuana products.  They could produce a lounge-like atmosphere and even host live music.

The bill would not allow dispensaries to sell alcohol or allow coffee shops to sell cannabis.

Critics of the Bill

The cannabis cafes bill is gaining overwhelming approval. But some critics oppose it. Most notable of these is the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. They are asking Newsom to use his veto power to shut the bill down.

“Allowing marijuana smoking in public places and expanding where smoking is allowed undermines the effectiveness of California’s smoke-free law and compromises its enforcement,” said Autumn Ogden-Smith, the group’s legislative director.

West Hollywood Has Its Own Cannabis Café Program

If the cannabis cafes bill goes into effect, cities across California will follow in the footsteps of West Hollywood. The city launched a cannabis café program in 2018, two years after recreational marijuana was legalized in the state.

In 2019, the Lowell Café, now called the Original Cannabis Café, opened its doors as the first restaurant in America that allowed guests to openly smoke marijuana. The establishment, which was decorated with vintage photographs, wood accents, and high ceilings, quickly became THEE place to go for a meal.

The café, which is temporarily closed, offered a diverse menu that features items like vegan nachos, fried chicken sandwiches, and bahn mi. But it had to get creative with its business model.

Current California law only allows dispensaries to sell cannabis products. So the Lowell Café had to operate as a dispensary on a state level and as a “cannabis consumption lounge” on the city level.

Doing so required them to keep their dining area and kitchen separate from their consumption area. They also had to keep cannabis and food checks separate.

Haney feels these regulations are preventing dispensaries from transforming their businesses into lounges. He believes the cannabis cafes bill will make it easy for businesses to serve both functions simultaneously.

“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 these small businesses back,” Haney said.

States that Have Cannabis Cafes

California is often seen as a leader in cannabis legalization. So it may surprise you to find that several states have legalized consumption lounges in some shape and form. These include:

Benefits of Cannabis Cafes

Marijuana buds with marijuana joints and Cannabis oil

Haney backs cannabis cafes because they increase state revenue and help legal marijuana businesses. But they offer additional benefits such as:

Cannabis cafes are an up-and-coming trend. It is unknown, though likely, that they will be legalized in California. Other states will probably begin approving them as well.

Hopefully, they will create benefits for businesses, states, and consumers.