Alcoholic Beverages and Marijuana?
In 2018, commercial recreational use of cannabis products became legal. Questions have followed since the legalization regarding what is allowed on/in premises that are licensed by the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). We will discuss frequently asked questions that have been addressed by ABC in hopes of providing guidance not legal advice. Before taking action for a business, consult independent legal advice; decisions should not be based on this article alone. So, can alcoholic beverages and marijuana be served or sold at the same location?
1. Can I hold both an ABC license and a license to grow, process, or sell cannabis products?
- Yes. There is no prohibition to stop persons that hold a license to sell alcohol or manufacture alcohol from also holding a license authorized under MAUCRSA. Neither the ABC Act nor the Medicinal and Adult- Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) prohibit having both licenses. Regardless of what other license your business holds, your business’s application for ABC license must meet all requirements.
2. If I hold licenses under both the ABC Act and the MAUCRSA, can I sell alcoholic beverages and marijuana or cannabis products at the same location?
- No. The MAUCRSA prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages and marijuana, and tobacco products, in any licensed establishment. This code also states that anyone who engages in commercial marijuana activity without a license is subject to civil and criminal penalties.
- Commercial cannabis products can only be cultivated, processed, and sold at licensed premises. Strictly following the requirements of the MAUCRSA, establishments may not be licensed both for an ABC and a license under the same scheme.
3. Although I cannot sell cannabis products in my bar or restaurant licensed by ABC, can I offer it to consumers in other ways, or allow consumers to bring their own cannabis products onto the premises and consume it?
- No. The Health and Safety Code prohibits the use and possession of marijuana in a public place. This includes establishments that are licensed to sell or consume alcoholic beverages.
- Even if an ABC licensee is not actively participating in the operation of the business, they may still be prohibited from selling or possessing commercial cannabis products on their premises. This code applies to anyone who engages in commercial activities on the premises without a license.
- Although there are some exceptions to this rule, the sale of alcoholic beverages on the premises is strictly prohibited. Also, the consumption of legal industrial hemp products, which are not considered marijuana, is not allowed on the premises.
4. I have seen news articles talking about wine, food, and cannabis product pairing events (or similar such activities). Are these types of events which have alcohol beverages and marijuana at the same time allowed?
- Not allowed in a licensed establishment under the ABC Act. This means that alcoholic beverages, including beer, are not allowed to be consumed or sold within the same time as the consumption of marijuana products.
5. Are industrial hemp products regulated like cannabis products?
- The exact definition of marijuana within the MAUCRSA does not include industrial hemp. The Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture are responsible for the regulation of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp products are not allowed to be sold or consumed under California Law. If they have been approved by the DPH and DFA, then the restrictions on these products do not apply.
6. Can I infuse (or mix) alcoholic beverages and marijuana? Or with either cannabis products or industrial hemp products (either as a manufacturer or retailer)?
- No. On September 27, 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 2914, which prohibits the sale and manufacturing of alcoholic beverages containing tetrahydrocannabinols or cannabinoids. This means that these products are not allowed to be used in the making of alcoholic beverages.
7. Am I allowed to sell or use at my ABC-licensed premises industrial hemp products?
- A new law was also passed in 2019 that aims to allow the use of industrial hemp derivatives in the food, beverages, and other products. An ABC licensee can sell or use products on their licensed premises if it is in accordance with the Sherman Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law.