Cannabis cafes coming to California

In this week’s cannabis news roundup, California’s bill allowing cannabis cafes is submitted to Governor Newson for final approval; New York launches broader cannabis licensing in October. Massachusetts achieved a record $5 billion in adult-use cannabis sales.

Photo by Kaziaka Konrad

California bill allowing cannabis cafes is presented to the governor for his signature

The California Assembly achieved a major milestone Monday by passing a bill allowing Amsterdam-style cannabis consumption Cafes all over the Golden State. The bill has now been submitted to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) for a final green light. Initially introduced by Assemblyman Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) in February, the Assembly’s resounding 66-9 endorsement followed the state Senate’s 34-3 approval last week.

While some cities in California already allow social cannabis use, including San Francisco and Oakland, they are prohibited from serving foods or beverages that do not contain cannabis along with cannabis consumption. Under the proposed measure, local jurisdictions would have the authority to grant permission to cannabis retailers to prepare and serve foods and beverages that do not contain cannabis. These establishments may also host and sell tickets for live music performances or other events within the designated area where cannabis consumption is permitted, as outlined in the legislative summary.

Assembly Bill 374 states that cannabis retailers cannot sell alcohol or cannabis products, and any retailer with a suspended license is prohibited from engaging in activities authorized under the bill. The bill states that all non-cannabis-containing foods and beverages in retail settings must be stored and displayed separately from hemp and hemp products. A strict tobacco use prevention policy must also be implemented.

Photo by Rossman Ray

New York will launch broader cannabis licensing in October

New York is preparing to open cannabis industry applications to the general public, starting October 4, expanding the opportunity to include existing state medical cannabis companies. On Tuesday, September 12, the New York Cannabis Control Board voted to open license applications for the cultivation, manufacture and sale of adult-use cannabis to non-social applicants.

The decision paves the way for multi-state-based operators, including Curaleaf, Acreage Holdings, Columbia Care and Cresco Labs, to venture into what experts expect will become the largest cannabis market on the East Coast, with projected revenues reaching $7.07 billion by 2025.

This development comes on the heels of the recent approval of regulations by the Cannabis Control Board, charting a path to increased participation in the Empire State’s cannabis market. New York’s cannabis industry has faced hurdles due to its slow rollout and a recent lawsuit that effectively halted statewide licensing.

The regulations comprise a wide range of cannabis-related activities, including plant nurseries, growers, processors, cooperatives, distributors, dispensaries, delivery services, and small businesses. Currently, vertically integrated medical cannabis companies in the state will be required to pay a special licensing fee of $20 million to establish three adult-use dispensaries at their current locations.

Under this measure, current conditional license holders who follow state regulations have the opportunity to convert to unconditional licenses. Application and licensing fees for new licenses range from $750 to $300,000. Lower fees will apply to Social Equity applicants to maintain the state’s commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion within the industry. The regulations do not include restrictions on the number of types of licenses.

Massachusetts State House, Boston. Image of the king of hearts

Massachusetts generates $5 billion in adult-use cannabis sales

Massachusetts has hit a milestone in the adult-use cannabis market, reaching $5 billion in total sales by August 31. This follows a string of record monthly sales in June, July and August, according to the state Cannabis Control Commission (CCC). The jump from $4 billion to $5 billion occurred in just eight months, marking the shortest period for Massachusetts companies to generate an additional $1 billion in total sales.

“Massachusetts continues to achieve record sales even as other states go online. In fact, our neighboring states, Maine, Rhode Island and Connecticut, achieved record sales this summer,” Shawn Collins, the commission’s executive director, said in a statement. “High-quality cannabis products tested strong in the region and consumers shopping in other states did not impact Massachusetts’ success.”

In addition to this impressive sales figure, the CCC also provided insights into the regulatory landscape of the industry. So far, only five cannabis retailers in the state have surrendered their licenses or allowed them to expire. Likewise, a total of 16 cannabis companies in various sectors have had their licenses expired, surrendered, or face revocation. At present, Massachusetts has 317 cannabis retailers, nine couriers, eight delivery operators, and one small business equipped with a delivery acknowledgment.

Adult-use cannabis sales in the Bay State began in 2018 with the passage of Question 4.

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