In this week’s cannabis news round-up, California state assembly passes bill allowing Amsterdam-style cannabis cafés; Colombian senators pass cannabis legalization bill, paving the way for the final vote; Kansas City Royals secure second CBD sponsorship deal in professional baseball and the California senate approves bill prohibiting employers from inquiring about previous cannabis use.
California State Assembly Passes Bill Allowing Amsterdam-Style Cannabis Cafés
In a show of broad bipartisan support, the California State Assembly passed a bill on Wednesday with a vote of 64-9, aiming to establish cannabis cafés similar to those found in Amsterdam. These cafés would enable customers to consume cannabis onsite, creating a more inviting and coffee shop-like experience. While limited onsite cannabis consumption is already permitted under certain circumstances, AB 374 would go further by allowing the sale of non-cannabis-infused products, which is currently prohibited by law.
Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco), the bill’s author, envisions this legislation to build upon California’s rich cannabis culture and position the state to better compete with Amsterdam, a city globally known for its cannabis scene. With more than 700 cafés allowing onsite cannabis use, Amsterdam generates an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue.
“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 said. “There’s no good reason from an economic, health or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal. If an authorized cannabis retail store wants to also sell a cup of coffee and a sandwich, we should allow cities to make that possible and stop holding back these small businesses.”
Haney hopes the bill will transform the cannabis industry from a purely transactional “pharmacy-like business” into a more social and interactive setting. Moreover, he believes the bill will provide struggling cannabis businesses opportunities for diversification and contribute to tourism and revitalization efforts in downtown areas and other economically challenged business districts across the state.
“California’s small cannabis businesses are struggling,” he said. “Issues such as over-saturation, high taxes and the thriving black market are hurting cannabis businesses who follow the rules and pay taxes.”
Colombian Senators Pass Pot Legalization Bill, Paving the Way for the Final Vote
A bill aimed at legalizing cannabis in Colombia has received approval in its second-to-last vote in the Senate on Tuesday, bringing the country one step closer to ending prohibition. However, advocates have raised concerns that unrelated governmental controversies may pose a risk to the bill’s progress as approaching deadlines loom. The proposal, put forth by Rep. Juan Carlos Losada Vargas, had previously passed through multiple votes and cleared the full Chamber of Representatives last month. In a 15-4 vote, the Senate First Committee also approved.
This marks the seventh of eight required votes before the proposed constitutional amendment reaches the president for final consideration. The next and final step is a Senate floor vote scheduled for June 16. It’s important to note that if amendments are made to the bill, lawmakers would have less than a week for bicameral reconciliation before the legislative session concludes.
Sen. María José Pizarro, a prominent advocate of the legislation in the Senate, expressed in an op-ed column last month that the criminalization of cannabis has empowered criminal organizations that continue to spread terror worldwide.
“In parallel, a significant percentage of the increase in the population deprived of liberty worldwide corresponds to people arrested or prosecuted for possession and consumption, which has led to overcrowding and a prison crisis,” she said.
As a proposed constitutional amendment, the bill must go through the full legislative process in each Chamber twice, in separate calendar years, to become law.
Last year, the Chamber and Senate passed different versions of marijuana legalization legislation and efforts were made in December to align the bills. The Senate overwhelmingly approved its version of the bill after receiving initial approval in the Chamber.
The proposed legalization bill aims to uphold the “right of free personal development, allowing citizens to decide on cannabis consumption within a regulated legal framework.” It also addresses “arbitrary discriminatory or unequal treatment faced by the consuming population.”
Kansas City Royals Secure Second CBD Sponsorship Deal in Professional Baseball
The Kansas City Royals have partnered with Pure Spectrum CBD, a Colorado-headquartered company with the stated aim to educate major league baseball fans about the potential benefits of CBD.
While specific details of the Royals-Pure Spectrum deal weren’t disclosed, the partnership has already commenced with a brand activation called the Pure Spectrum Lodge outfield experience at Kauffman Stadium, the team’s home field. This initiative invites fans to enjoy the game while allowing them to learn about CBD.
“As someone who grew up in Kansas City, this partnership with the Kansas City Royals is more than a ‘dream come true’ for me,” Dan Huerter, CEO of Pure Spectrum, said in a statement. “To be able to work with such an iconic organization and to be a part of promoting health and wellness in my hometown is an incredible honor.”
This move by the Royals follows in the footsteps of the Chicago Cubs, who established a CBD sponsorship agreement with Mynd Drinks in April, after MLB’s announcement in 2022 allowing such partnerships.
California Senate Approves Bill Prohibiting Employers from Inquiring About Previous Cannabis Use
The California Senate has passed a bill that would make it illegal for employers to inquire about an applicant’s past cannabis use. The legislation, introduced by Sen. Steven Bradford (D), received a 29-9 vote in favor on Tuesday after going through four committees.
The new bill states that employers cannot ask job applicants about their prior cannabis use. Exceptions to this policy include workers in the building and construction trades and those requiring federal background checks and security clearances.
The bill will now move to the Assembly for further consideration. If signed into law, it would expand on existing employment protections that prevent employers from penalizing workers who use cannabis outside of work in accordance with state law.
If passed into law, the commencement date of the legislation will be January 1, 2024, aligning with the effective date of the previous cannabis employment protections signed by Gov Gavin Newsom (D) last year.