Earlier this week, a California legislator introduced a bill that would allow cannabis dispensaries to offer food and consumption lounges to host live events. In California, cannabis dispensaries are prohibited from selling non-cannabis food, and consumption lounges (restaurants where cannabis can be consumed) are prohibited from selling live event tickets.

According to Assembly Bill 374, local governments can manage their own rules to ease these regulations. AB 374 could change operations throughout the state and make it possible to enjoy a meal at a consumption lounge while watching stand-up comedy or live music, or order french fries with a pre-rolled joint.

Since California has a robust black market for cannabis, Assemblyman Matt Haney introduced AB 374 on February 1. The bill is intended to support struggling legalized cannabis businesses. Due to high taxes (resulting in higher-than-street prices), underwhelming revenues and even oversaturation of the market, such as in Palm Springs, many legal cannabis dispensaries are experiencing underwhelming revenues.

During an interview with KQED, Haney said the bill would inject economic life into cannabis businesses. “If an authorized cannabis retail store wants to sell someone cannabis, tea, and a sandwich, we should let cities allow that to happen, and stop hindering the economy,” says Haney. According to state law, all those things are now illegal.

Dispensaries would be permitted to sell non-infused food and beverages, while cannabis consumption lounges would be permitted to sell nonalcoholic beverages, as well as sell tickets to live performances.

West Hollywood is well-known for having a lenient stance towards cannabis and currently has two consumption lounges/dispensaries. The Artist Tree Studio Cannabis Lounge offers food from an outside vendor and holds stand-up comedy and drag brunches events. Palm Springs even goes further with ten lounges around the city. When contacted, West Hollywood officials have not commented concerning how they would move forward with the proposed law.

California cannabis laws can be cumbersome and difficult to navigate. The Original Cannabis Cafe in Southern California was confronted with a costly decision to divide itself into two distinct enterprises, a restaurant and a cannabis retail shop, in order to abide by local and state regulations. Thankfully, the West Hollywood City Council introduced changes in 2019 which allowed diners at the cafe to bring leftovers home from the establishment - even though it remains temporarily closed. Hopefully, AB 374 will have a positive impact on the ever-growing cannabis sector in California by simplifying its rules in some way.