The cannabis economy will decide everything about cannabis in the future. As the customer base expands and comes out of the black market, the customers will determine the shape, traffic, and design of cannabis dispensaries.
As states’ start to pocket the attached taxes, regulations will change to serve the market and the revenue. There will be advances forward and two steps back until common interests determine best practices.
One of those issues involves cannabis delivery service. Such service is not approved in all the states where possession and sale have been decriminalized or legalized. Permission is inevitable, but what shape it takes remains to be seen.
States allowing delivery
Alaska, for example, permits marijuana delivery services. And, given Alaska’s size and terrain, there will be ready need for it.
Arizona dispensaries can use delivery services to patients with ID cards or listing on a patient registry. Arizona also permits delivery to documented patients outside the state.
California allows dispensaries and delivery services to authorized patients. What’s more, most medical conditions qualify you to order while many other states limit delivery to those with specific conditions.
Connecticut allows operation of medical marijuana delivery services to patients with medical I.D. or registry.
District of Columbia permits delivery services because it has legalized recreational use.
Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington also permit delivery to authorized and/or registered patients.
Minnesota permits dispensaries to deliver a specified list of liquid extracts.
New York has delivery services with limitations. They may only deliver products that cannot be smoked and contain less that 10mg of THC.
States that do not permit delivery
Colorado is currently debating the introduction of home delivery services.
Hawaii does not permit dispensaries or delivery services even though medical marijuana is legal.
Michigan does not permit delivery services as a matter of state policy, but it allows local areas to determine the legality of dispensary services.
Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Pennsylvania have no provisions for operation of delivery services.
5 tips for choosing a cannabis delivery service
You want to deal with a dispensary that does background checks on its drivers. One reason you are opting for the service is to avoid the streets. So, you need assurance that the black market is not coming to you.
Some services let you track the delivery on your smartphone. The delivery service should have the required permits. The drivers should have I.D. And, you prefer those with a professional behavior.
It will be interesting to see how the services shake out. You may eventually see distinctive delivery vehicles with signage. But, you probably will still prefer discretion. A quiet, no fuss delivery in unmarked, indistinguishable vehicles. It’s a sort of “brown paper bag” approach most recipients will prefer.
When the product comes to you, you can avoid the usual shopping hassles. There is no awkward waiting and nosey patrons. You don’t have to deal with security guards, budtenders, or long lines. So, look for an ordering system that makes things easier for you.
Cannabis delivery services should not operate like Uber. You can’t depend on calling some anonymous dispatcher to send you some weed. Ideally, these services were created as a necessary convenience for those medical patients unable to get about.
But, where states permit, such services may deliver various cannabis products. In some states, the type of product is narrowly defined to strictly medical products. But, wherever you are located you need to check the legal status of the service. You don’t want an “errand boy” delivering your grass.
The delivery to your door is the main convenience, of course. But, the purchase and delivery should be easy in every way. For instance, you need a complete and readable menu to order from.
The menu or related materials should display the service’s credentials and the process to order and receive. If you are ordering by phone, the dispensary should have live, trained, and informed people to talk to.
The things to do:
The future of cannabis delivery services is in limbo. This is one area where Colorado has not taken the lead. Without their experience and data, things lack direction.
That puts California in the lead, and that can be a problem. California is a very diverse state. The San Francisco Bay area knows how to handle these things with propriety. They have been smoking, handling, and sharing there for decades without raising any red flags.
Most of California is rural and happy to have a working delivery system. But, as in so many things, Los Angeles will rule. Unfortunately, L.A. tends to overdue things and reach too far, and that’s a risk in the current political environment.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Gov. Chris Christie have laced their positions and comments with threatening remarks that, if realized, can undue a lot of the achievement so far. Clearly, the political momentum that rolled into the election and approvals of November 2016 has slowed.
Capital investors are reluctant to move into finance delivery opportunities despite their obvious potential because of federal threats and uncertainty. Fortune reported in 2015 that only Eaze, “the delivery service that can bring pot to your door (assuming you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal) recently took in some major investment money.”
In many states, approval was gained through narrow margins, and vocal opposition is still strong. There is a certain paranoia in the canna-economy that worries about anything that rocks the boat. The Sacramento Bee says, “The estimated hundreds of mobile services for medical marijuana are operating in a largely unregulated sector of the cannabis economy, and state lawmakers and officials in cities such as Sacramento are scrambling to draft rules for the businesses or seeking ways to close them down.” If Californians rush to open and multiply cannabis delivery services without prudent security and scrutiny, they invite retaliation.
It just makes sense for individual state monitors to promulgate a template industry standard that the respective states can meet while protecting their consumers and markets.