Are Medical Marijuana Delivery Services Safe?

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The Los Angeles Times says, “Weed on wheels offers patients convenience and owners a cheaper alternative to running a brick-and-mortar shop. Delivery services see huge potential for growth.”

As usual, California becomes a model, not always the most favorable. For instance, California is shutting down dispensaries all over L.A. because they do not meet the standards established as the result of Proposition 64 passed by the electorate in November of 2016.

Los Angeles is also larger concept than the city of L.A. itself. The L.A. area and the reach of its influence extends into other counties and over many self-governing municipalities which have controls over dispensaries within their authority and if and how cannabis dispensaries will operate. Riverside, for example, has prohibited delivery service.

Once there are standards and oversight cannabis delivery services will be everywhere. There’s just too much money to be had to keep them garaged forever. What form they take is not clear because as investors move in, there will be an inevitable shakeout of the smaller and weaker competitors.

In the meantime!

For starters, you might ask how safe it is for the delivery drivers. Long Beach, CA councilwoman Suzie Price has recommended a delivery only policy for sales in the city. The idea would eliminate dispensaries and retail stores.

But, as Stefan Borst-Consullo noted in the Press Telegram, “as the Long Beach City Council itself knows, delivery drivers of any profession risk their personal safety when working in this city.

The issue was so severe that the city had to require taxis to pick up passengers in some parts of town. By forcing operators to deliver a controlled substance, in exchange for cash, Price has created perfect conditions for armed robberies.”

Cannabis delivery is different from pizza runs. The canna-economy in Long Beach alone may be $1 billion, and putting that much money on the street without security and oversight is high risk to drivers and the service.

Eaze, SpeedWeed, and other services work on the Uber model. They don’t employ the drivers; the drivers work for the dispensary. But, the providers offer the platform to take, process, and schedule routes and drivers. They use their own cars and pay for their own fuel, but they are paid $16 to $24 an hour according to Business Insider - and keep all their tips.

Is it quality product?

As a customer, you are not interested in a mobile dealer. And, you can indeed find illegal services willing to be your go-between in a black-market purchase. But, improved legislation and oversight should make things harder for them to operate down the road.

As a customer, especially a patient needing medical marijuana, you want assurance of the product’s quality and safety. You won’t get that confidence from an illegal delivery service.

Las Vegas, for one, has been closing illegal services as they find them even though it’s hard shutting down anything that is internet enabled. So, your best check is to research the dispensary’s service. Spend time reading their testimonials and reviews.

Look for certain keys at the website:

  • Consider how they screen their drivers.
  • Determine if the service is licensed according to your state’s regulations.
  • Identify what they say about their product quality and what assurances they provide.
  • Find out as much as you can about the product’s testing and quality assurance tracking.

A cannabis delivery system is supposed to deliver the dispensaries product, and that product should have met testing standards from seed to sale. Some record of that should appear on the package labeling.

Your product label should identify the contents, potency, and recommended dosage. You also want to see certification of origin and pesticides used. Legal cannabis should have been subjected to Basic Quality Screen (BQS) test regimen to check for the overall fungal load in a cannabis product and a basic pesticide screen for the broad spectrum of pesticides.

You might look for evidence of a Comprehensive Safety Test (CST). This process detects all major pesticides used on cannabis, but also other known harmful fungicides and other Plant Growth Regulators (PGR’s).

And, a test using Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) instrumentation will likely become the gold standard for cannabis production soon.

The SteepHill Cannabis Analysis Laboratory says, “Cannabis dispensaries need to improve the perception that they are not showing enough concern for their patients. As health care providers, they need to improve procedures for buying and distributing medical cannabis, and provide more detailed information about the medicine. The industry has yet to see legal cases involving contaminated cannabis, but they are likely to arrive as the use of medical cannabis grows. Medical cannabis advocates need to promote the testing of cannabis in order to dispel opinions that ‘crude’ herbal cannabis, and especially its preparation, should not be considered medicinal.”

Your access to the final information is a check of the product when it arrives. You should read and examine the packaging label on the spot before letting the driver go. And, you should report anything strange or incorrect about the label and packaging to the dispensary immediately.

Labeling and packaging requirements vary from state to state but most require that the packaging be opaque and childproof or child resistant. Typical labeling requirements include:

The identity of the product in a text size reasonably related to the most prominent printed matter on the panel:

  • The words “cannabis-infused” immediately above the identity of the product in bold type and a text size larger than the text size used for the identity of the product;
  • The net weight or volume of the contents of the package;
  • The THC content and CBD content for the package in its entirety, expressed in milligrams per package;
  • The THC content and CBD content per serving, expressed in milligrams per serving; and
  • The content of other cannabinoids or terpenes per serving if such information is verified by the certificate of analysis issued by a licensed testing laboratory;
  • The primary panel text must be in type size no less than 6-point font and be in relation to the size of the primary panel and container.

So, with research on your dispensary and delivery service, with experience with both, you should have confidence in the quality and safety of your delivered product. The only concern left lies with wither the delivery driver compromised the product. While that remains a possibility, you are the customer and have a voice in outcomes. So, you must remain active in the system by inspecting the product on arrival, providing the required I.D., and providing feedback to your dispensary.

Click here for a list of Cannabis Delivery Services near you!