While Amsterdam’s famed coffeeshops—cafes where the coffee is normally pretty bad but at least you can buy a rollie—are currently in limbo, at least as far whether or not they will remain open to tourists, they may soon find a new home across the pond. Like, way across it, in California. A bill is working its way through the state government that would allow Amsterdam-style cannabis coffeeshops to operate.
As reported by KTLA, the bill, AB 374, was proposed by Assemblymember Matt Haney of San Francisco and has passed through the State Assembly with a vote of 64 to 9, receiving sweeping bipartisan support. Under current California law, marijuana purveyors can only operate under the dispensary model; you buy what you want and you take it home. AB 374 would allow locations to diversify their offerings away from the cannabis-only model they are currently allowed. “Coffee, food, and live music” are all offered as potential revenue streams for cannabis sellers in the press release from Haney’s office.
“AB 374 will allow struggling cannabis businesses to diversity away from the marijuana-only ‘dispensary’ model and bring much-needed tourist dollars into empty downtowns… Lots of people want to enjoy legal cannabis in the company of others,” said Haney. “And many people want to do that while sipping coffee, eating a scone, or listening to music. There’s absolutely no good reason from an economic, health, or safety standpoint that the state should make that illegal.”
Per KTLA, the cannabis industry in California has struggled, due to “high taxes and a thriving black market.” With AB 374, Haney hopes that statewide cannabis shops will see an influx of capital similar to that of Amsterdam’s, where the 700 coffeeshops account for over $1 billion in sales per year, much of it from tourists.
Still, AB 374 has a few more hurdles to clear before it can be enacted into law, including sign-off from the governor, but it is off to a promising start. One can but hope that California can improve upon Amsterdam’s coffeeshop model in one key way: make the coffee actually good. There are too many world-class coffee scenes and roasters in California for bad coffee to be served, well, anywhere. But should you find yourself in Amsterdam looking for the perfect nexus of cannabis and coffee, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.