California to consider Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes

A San Francisco lawmaker proposed a new bill aimed at allowing cannabis dispensaries to open Amsterdam style cafes.

Backers of the legislation said it would create more of a coffee shop or local bar atmosphere rather than the buy-and-go model that is currently in place now.

The new legislation would allow cannabis shops to sell food, coffee and even host live music events.

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California's law bans the sale of other items dispensaries, but AB 374, introduced by Assemblyman Matt Haney, would allow the cannabis shops to diversify what they sell.

"We're missing this big opportunity for California to be a destination for cannabis just like we are for wine. Many people want to enjoy cannabis socially with others," said Haney.

Cannabis users love the concept.

"You don't have to come in here and purchase the cannabis. You can come in and purchase regular coffee, regular tea," said Liz Holland. "For the people who are just here for the vibe, not really for the indulgence but the vibe that it brings."

California Street Cannabis Company said the bill would allow them to grow their business. Their flagship location already shares a building with a vacant storefront they say could easily be converted into a cannabis lounge.

Co-owner Drakari Donaldson, says that would allow them to adapt to what their customers want; a more social experience.

"Being able to sell coffee, muffins even finding ways to sell entertainment whether it be music or art or whatever it may be," said Donaldson. "These are all things that are big parts of the cannabis culture."

Backers of the bill say cannabis businesses are struggling, with an over-saturation of dispensaries, plus competition from the black market.

Haney says his bill could change the status quo and help them adapt and survive.

"What we've done, unfortunately, is put these really harsh restrictions and taxes on these folks, and they're struggling and this industry will not make it," said Haney. "They'll lose out to the illegal market unless we allow them to be creative and entrepreneurial."

The bill was introduced Friday and headed to committee. A vote could come by the summer.