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California Marijuana Consumption Lounge Bill Sent to State Senate

A measure that would permit marijuana lounges to sell food and nonalcoholic drinks has been forwarded to California’s senate for approval. Several local governments have already permitted marijuana lounges, including government officials in Oakland, San Francisco, Weed and Sacramento.

The recent measure, Assembly Bill 1775, was authored by San Francisco Democrat and Assemblymember Matt Haney. This is the second attempt in which Haney is introducing such a measure, after a similar bill was vetoed by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2023.

The new measure includes amendments to ensure there is separation between food areas and marijuana consumption in lounges. This will allow businesses to sell tickets to different events, including music performances. Haney also highlighted that his measure wouldn’t legalize consumption lounges but expand the lounges’ offerings.

Currently, local governments in the state of California permit marijuana lounges where individuals can consume the substance on site. The businesses are allowed to provide prepackaged food and beverages but not prepare anything on the premises.

The proposed change is focused on helping the legal market, which is struggling. Speaking on behalf of the state’s National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Pamela Lopez stated that this measure would improve consumer experiences. Lopez explained that marijuana lounges were important for urban communities, adding that a communal space where individuals could consume marijuana together was needed, particularly now that loneliness was at its peak.

This argument was supported by the spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, Kristin Heidelbach, who noted that this change would also help prevent individuals from using marijuana in public spaces. Heidelbach referred to the measure as a lifeline for hurting businesses.

The measure was also supported by State Senator Roger Niello, who observed that he wanted to help legal marijuana businesses that were struggling.

Those who opposed the measure raised concerns on the dangers of secondhand smoke. American Lung Association’s Kesa Bruce claimed that the measure bypassed current state laws that protect individuals from secondhand smoke, noting that employees at these establishments had the same protections as any other employee.

Professor Suzaynn Schick of the University of California theorizes that secondhand smoke can affect the air quality of an area. Schick conducts research on how air pollution affects human health, focusing on how marijuana and tobacco smoke can cause diseases of the lungs and heart.

State Senator Richard Roth also noted that he was concerned about the effects of smoke but added that Proposition 64 approved areas such as marijuana lounges.

Companies such as Verano Holdings Corp. (CSE: VRNO) (OTCQX: VRNOF) could take a keen interest in these regulatory developments in California as other jurisdictions could enact similar reforms.

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