St. Louis Alderman Wants to Allow Cannabis Cafes with Longer Dispensary Hours

St. Louis Alderman Wants to Allow Cannabis Cafes with Longer Dispensary Hours

Doubling down on weed could be a revenue boost for the city, Rasheen Aldridge says.

As the St. Louis Board of Aldermen’s new session begins, Ward 14 Alderman Rasheen Aldridge hopes to explore legislation to allow cannabis cafes and extend the hours dispensaries can legally operate.

Cannabis cafes would offer a place where people can smoke on site, likely in a special ventilated room. Aldridge says that while no bills have been formally introduced this session, he is working on legislation to make them possible.

This legislation, along with Board Bill 15 introduced by Aldridge to extend the operating hours of dispensaries, would help to bring in more revenue for the city as it faces a tumultuous budget year, he says. 

The City of St. Louis is facing serious threats to its earnings tax and has announced a hiring freeze as it prepares for the worst-case scenario of losing that revenue. Aldridge says this inspired him to introduce the legislation to allow dispensaries to open from 8 a.m. to midnight so that they can bring in additional tax revenue for the city.

“These dispensaries have been a positive in the city of St. Louis,” Aldridge says. “Knowing that they close at 8 o’clock, we were just thinking how this could be an additional revenue boost to the city of St. Louis without doing a tax on the people.”

Aldridge says that through conversations with customers and dispensary owners, he has learned that being forced to close by 8 p.m. is a burden.

“This gives them an opportunity not to just bring in more sales, but also bring in growth to the City of St. Louis,” he says. 

Aldridge thinks cannabis cafes could provide a similar function. He sees restaurants or other businesses being allowed to created designated spaces for smoking weed. These rooms would be isolated and equipped with special ventilation systems like a cigar bar, he says. 

“Also understanding that we will have to have separation between marijuana and alcohol because they can't be in the same spot,” Aldridge says. However if there was say a restaurant that wanted to have a designated room for marijuana use, that would be allowed. 

Aldridge says he is in the last stretch of finalizing verbiage in order to introduce an ordinance. That includes working with city agencies to make sure the city has the proper licenses in order because this would be new territory for St. Louis.

“I do think there'll be a lot of support around it,” he says. “There seems to be also a good swath of support around bringing cannabis cafes to the City of St. Louis. And I know President Green is in full support as I'm working with her staff on this legislation.”

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Region: Missouri

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