Assemblymember Matt Haney’s bid to legalize Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes went up in smoke after a Gavin Newsom veto in October, but Haney has high hopes that the governor will take a kinder view of his new version of the bill.

We spent much of 2023 watching with interest SF Assemblymember Matt Haney’s bill to legalize Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes in California, which would have allowed permitted cannabis smoking lounges to sell food and (non-alcoholic) beverages on-site, as well as provide live entertainment. The bill cruised through the state legislature; passing the Assembly 66-9, and the Senate 33-3. But Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the bill in October, saying he was “concerned this bill could undermine California’s long-standing smoke-free workplace protections.” Bummer, dude!

Undaunted, Haney has reintroduced a new version of his cannabis cafe bill for 2024. And intriguingly, Haney’s office says in a Thursday press release that he reintroduced the bill “at the Governor’s urging.”

“To be clear, we’re not saying that coffee shops should be allowed to sell cannabis,” Haney says in that press release. “We’re saying that cannabis shops should be allowed to sell coffee. It shouldn’t be illegal for an existing cannabis business that already allows onsite smoking to move away from only selling marijuana and instead have the opportunity to grow and create jobs by offering coffee or live jazz.”

So it sure sounds like this version of the bill would only permit that sale of food and beverages at existing cannabis smoking lounges that operate within permitted dispensaries. (They prefer to be called “consumption lounges,” and San Francisco has nearly a dozen of them.) These currently can’t sell much more than just cannabis, plus just rolling papers, lighters and such. Haney's bill would allow them to sell food, along with non-alcoholic beverages.

The only jurisdiction in California that allows true cannabis cafes is West Hollywood, which currently has only one called Cannabis Cafe. Haney's bill would extend the right across California, but only to cities that allow cannabis consumption lounges.  

Yet parsing the words of the press release, it appears Haney’s new bill (called AB-1775) is not actually written yet. The release says that “At the Governor’s urging, Haney is in conversations with the Department of Cannabis Control and the Governor’s office, to address those concerns and to create a bill.” The release also adds a quote from Haney saying “I’m looking forward to working closely with (Newsom’s) office and with labor leaders to make sure we get this right for AB 1775,” indicating there is still some legislative sausage-making ahead here.

Should this bill pass, it would go into effect on January 1, 2025. But that doesn’t mean the cafes could open on that day. The release adds that “Local governments will then have the opportunity to create a permitting process and regulations for local cannabis cafes.”

Because just like when we passed recreational marijuana in November 2016, San Francisco dispensaries did not open to recreational users (without a medical card) until January 6, 2018.

Related: Newsom Vetoes Wiener’s Magic Mushrooms Bill, Haney’s Bill That Would Have Allowed Cannabis Cafes [SFist]

Image: Moe Greens via Yelp