SAN DIEGO — A piece of Amsterdam could be coming to the Golden State.
The State Assembly has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would allow cannabis cafes here in California.
Supporters say it would help struggling cannabis retailers by expanding what they can offer, including coffee, food and live music.
Under this legislation, coffee shops would not be allowed to sell cannabis. However, cannabis shops would be allowed to sell coffee, food, and even offer live music: an idea that many San Diegans are backing.
For Hillcrest resident Stella Salam, combining cafe culture with cannabis culture makes sense.
"Cannabis makes everything better," she told CBS 8. "Live music, coffee... it stimulates the brain and everything."
"And when the tourists come around, they have money to spend - because they're on vacation," added Ocean Beach resident Chloe Valentine.
Currently, under state law, cannabis retailers cannot sell non-cannabis products.
"It's pretty much a relic of when cannabis was first legalized in California where we wanted to make these businesses almost like pharmacies," said state Assembly Member Matt Haney, who proposed this bill.
It would allow for the sale of coffee and other non-alcoholic drinks, as well as food: similar to the cannabis cafes already popular in the Netherlands.
This proposal passed the Assembly by a 64 to 9 vote with wide support from both Democrats and Republicans.
"So there are people who did not even support originally the legalization of cannabis who support his bill because it's about supporting small businesses, and jobs and economic development," Haney told CBS 8.
He added that legal cannabis retailers playing by the rules are losing out to a thriving black market.
This legislation would help generate new business and attract vital tourism dollars, Haney said.
"We got to get our state back on its feet, we got to bring people back to our downtowns and our cities," he added. "This can help."
While this would clear the way for cannabis cafes when it comes to state law, local governments would ultimately have to give the green light. Haney believes this would be a boon for cities and counties statewide.
"California is a destination for wine, for beer," he said. "It should be one for legal cannabis as well."
The American Heart Association, American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network are opposed to the bill, citing concerns that workers would be forcibly exposed to harmful chemicals.
Haney pointed out that already, cannabis lounges are legal in California , where cannabis only can be consumed on-site, adding that ventilation systems are also in place.
"These are places where everyone who works and goes there know that there will be some smoking," he said.
This bill now heads to the State Senate for a vote sometime this summer. If it passes, it will then head to Governor Gavin Newsom's desk for his signature.
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