California bill would allow marijuana retailers to serve food, beverages

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A lawmaker in San Francisco introduced a bill that would allow marijuana retailers in California to operate kitchens and host events at their stores.

Assembly Bill 374, sponsored by Assembly Member Matt Haney, would remove some of the biggest restrictions on cannabis consumption lounges, allowing operators to serve prepared foods and coffee as well as to host live music events.

“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,” Haney told The (San Mateo) Daily Journal.

“To be clear, we’re not saying that coffee shops should be allowed to sell cannabis. We’re saying that cannabis shops should be allowed to sell coffee.”

California has a few dozen consumption lounges across the state, though roughly half of them are in the Bay Area.

Under California’s strict rules, generating revenue at consumption lounges is a major challenge for licensees, who are prohibited from preparing and serving food and beverages in-house, relegating third-party providers to handle those tasks.

They are allowed to sell only cannabis and accessories or rent smoking devices.

And specific consumption lounge licenses are not available in the state, so applicants can apply only for retail permits.

Most consumption lounges in California essentially act as marijuana smoking rooms, though some have inked partnerships with neighboring or nearby cafes and restaurants to deliver food and beverages to consumers in the lounge, typically ordered through QR codes.

That equates to lost potential revenue in every sale.