No Cannabis Cafes for You! – California Governor Newsom Vetoes Weed Cafes in the Golden State

October 18, 2023 ·

Governor Gavin Newsom (D) of California recently took a series of actions that yielded varied outcomes for the cannabis industry and advocates of marijuana reform. Notably, he vetoed a proposal to legalize cannabis cafes, which left supporters disheartened as they believed it could have provided new social opportunities for consumers and spurred business growth.

Simultaneously, he vetoed marijuana packaging regulations, which industry operators argued would have imposed overly burdensome restrictions. On the positive side, Governor Newsom signed several other bills into law that will usher in changes to the state’s marijuana regulations, focusing on aspects like equity, tracking, testing, and licensing.

The Governor’s recent decisions followed his veto of a bill to legalize the possession of specific psychedelics, alongside his approval of a law preventing employers from inquiring about past marijuana usage during the hiring process.

The now vetoed AB 374, which pertained to cannabis cafes, sought to grant local governments the authority to permit marijuana consumption lounges to serve non-cannabis food and beverages on their premises.

The proposed legislation also explicitly sanctioned hosting live musical performances and other events in areas designated for cannabis consumption, allowing for the sale of tickets for these performances.

In his veto statement, Governor Newsom expressed his understanding of the bill’s goal to offer cannabis retailers additional business prospects and a means to draw in new customers. However, he voiced his apprehension that this legislation might compromise California’s well-established protections for smoke-free workplaces.

He emphasized the utmost importance of safeguarding the health and well-being of workers and encouraged the bill’s author to tackle this concern in future legislative efforts. Assemblymember Matt Haney (D), the bill’s sponsor, asserted that the legislation was primarily designed to promote fairness and support businesses that adhere to regulations.

He stated that if unnecessary regulations persist in constraining California’s legal cannabis businesses, the result would be an inadvertent encouragement of illicit drug sales and associated problems. He emphasized that many people desire the opportunity to enjoy legal cannabis in a social setting and stressed that, from an economic, health, or safety perspective, the state has no justifiable reason to maintain such a prohibition.

Furthermore, he pointed out that the health department had yet to convey concerns about smoke-free workplaces during the seven months of legislation drafting. He also highlighted that consumption lounges involving smoking already exist, having been a part of Proposition 64, a measure advocated by the Governor.

Packaging Regulations for Cannabis Products

The distinct packaging bill that Governor Newsom vetoed aimed to establish a revised description for marijuana product packaging, deeming items “attractive to children” as prohibited. This legislation would have explicitly forbidden the inclusion of images featuring elements like “cartoons, toys, or robots,” “real or fictional humans,” “fictional animals or creatures,” and “fruits or vegetables,” unless used for accurate depiction of product ingredients or flavors.

In his veto message, the Governor expressed a profound appreciation for the legislation’s intent while expressing reservations about the overly broad definition of what qualifies as “attractive to children.” He explained that by banning entire categories of images, this bill would encompass standard designs, and he is still determining if these added restrictions will provide children with more significant protection beyond the existing legal requirements.

The Governor emphasized the need for California to continually improve and advance its cannabis regulations to safeguard the well-being of children. Accordingly, he directed the Department of Cannabis Control to reinforce and expand the existing youth protection measures and enhance their enforcement.

Pamela Epstein, the President of the California Cannabis Industry Association, lauded the Governor’s decision to veto the bill. “AB 1207,” she contended, posed a substantial risk to the industry, as it imposed onerous restrictions that inadvertently provided an advantage to the illicit market and compromised essential tax revenues designated for youth prevention programs.

Advancements in Cannabis Regulation and Environmental Sustainability

Senator Allen (D), the bill’s sponsor, emphasized the need for responsible action to address plastic products’ public health risks and environmental consequences. He noted that plastics have posed environmental and financial challenges for our local governments and have emerged as a public health concern, with microplastics detected in bloodstreams.

He affirmed that their responsibility is to minimize plastic use wherever possible judiciously. As California’s cannabis industry continues to evolve, prioritizing sustainability is integral to its growth. SB 622 is designed to achieve just that, and I extend my gratitude to Governor Newsom for endorsing this sensible measure.”

Tiffany Devitt, who serves as the head of regulatory affairs for CannaCraft, also celebrated the bill’s enactment into law. She stated, “Over the past five years, the state has utilized between 200 and 250 million plant tags, producing over one million pounds of plastic waste.

The financial cost of this waste is significant, with California expending approximately $15 million annually to purchase these tags and distribute them to cannabis farms. The most regrettable aspect is that these tags failed to fulfill their intended purpose of preventing diversion, as initially intended.”

Furthermore, the Governor signed a separate bill that alters the tracking requirements for marijuana plants, a move welcomed by supporters who believe it will enhance environmental sustainability by eliminating disposable plastic bags.


The recent legislative actions in California surrounding cannabis-related bills reflect the delicate balance between promoting a thriving, responsible cannabis industry and safeguarding public health, the environment, and tax revenues. Governor Gavin Newsom’s veto of AB 1207, a bill with perceived excessive restrictions, aimed to strike this balance and prevent unintentional support for the illicit market.

Additionally, the signing of SB 622, which modifies tracking requirements for marijuana plants to reduce plastic waste, underscores the growing importance of sustainability in the cannabis sector.

Senator Allen and other advocates emphasize the need for responsible environmental stewardship and a concerted effort to curb plastic use, citing the presence of microplastics in bloodstreams as a public health concern. These measures, coupled with the commitment to youth deterrence programs and sustainability, serve as critical building blocks for the continued development of California’s cannabis industry.

The progression of the cannabis industry, emphasizing both economic expansion and responsible conduct, highlights the state’s enduring dedication to harmonizing public health, safety, and environmental sustainability within the dynamic realm of legalized cannabis. As the industry continues to develop and mature, pursuing the appropriate regulatory framework will be paramount in ensuring its enduring success. (Full Story)

In categories:Lounge Politics
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