California’s Cannabis Lounges and Assembly Bill 374: Food, Fun, Weed

As California continues to pioneer in the cannabis industry, a new trend is taking the scene by storm: cannabis consumption lounges. These lounges are becoming the ultimate hangout spots, and the latest buzz is about adding food and non-alcoholic drinks to the menu. Let’s dive into what’s happening with consumption lounges in California and how they’re looking to integrate food and beverages for an even better experience, through proposed legislation known as Assembly Bill 374 (“AB-374”).

What’s a cannabis consumption lounge?

Think of a cannabis consumption lounge as the cool new spot where adults can legally enjoy cannabis products in a social setting. These lounges, unlike retail dispensaries, let you kick back and consume cannabis on-site, much like a bar does with alcohol. Whether you’re in West Hollywood or San Francisco, some cities are all in on this idea, while others are still warming up to it.

Cannabis-friendly cafés: already a thing in California

Yes, cannabis-friendly cafés are already a reality in California! West Hollywood started the trend in 2018 with its cannabis lounge program. Imagine enjoying tacos, burgers, or wings while choosing from a menu of pre-rolls, edibles, infused beverages, or concentrates. These cafés are unique because they operate with special permissions: they’re part dispensary and part consumption lounge, thanks to both state and city authorizations.

New bill to expand food sales for dispensaries

Exciting news: a new bill just passed in California’s lower house that could change the game for cannabis dispensaries. That bill is AB-374 and you can view it here. If AB-374 becomes law, these spots will be able to sell food and non-alcoholic drinks alongside their cannabis products. This will not only create new opportunities in the cannabis space but will go along way towards normalizing its use and enjoyment. Picture a cozy café where you can enjoy a coffee or a sandwich while indulging in your favorite cannabis goodies, just like the famous cafés in Amsterdam.

Assemblymember Matt Haney is the force behind this bill. He pointed out the missed opportunities under the current rules, which prohibit dispensaries from selling anything other than cannabis. His new bill includes strict regulations ensuring that cannabis and food areas are kept separate to prevent any contamination. Proposed regulations include prohibiting customers or employees from smoking or vaping cannabis products in food preparation, food storage or washing areas, and requiring non-cannabis food and beverages be kept separate in order to prevent contamination. The added language remedies prior concerns by California’s Governor, who vetoed an earlier version of the bill.

Come for the wine, stay for the cannabis

California’s push to expand food sales in consumption lounges marks a big step towards normalizing cannabis. By blending cannabis with food culture, the state aims to boost local economies and create a unique draw for tourists, much like its famous wine industry. Haney captures this vision perfectly: “People come to California for our wine industry; they can come for our cannabis as well.”

California’s consumption lounges are poised to become the next big thing in social cannabis use. So, whether you’re a local or a tourist, get ready to enjoy a more vibrant and social cannabis experience in the Golden State!

We will continue to track developments with cannabis consumption lounges and AB-374. In the meantime, feel free to reach out to our California cannabis attorneys with any questions.

Kristin Westphal

Kristin is a versatile litigator with a depth of legal experience gained from spending time in the trenches and taking cases to trial. Having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in corporate, business, construction, intellectual property and trademark litigation, she has a deep understanding of her clients’ legal needs and an uncanny ability to see around corners. As a creative problem solver and zealous advocate, Kristin is focused on obtaining the best possible outcome for each client.

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