Until governments decriminalize sale, possession, carry, and use, those regulators make the purchase and delivery of cannabis products a challenge. There will come a time when Amazon, eBay, Costco, Walmart, and other retail sources will sell cannabis. They will likely start with sales online because it has many cost-effective advantages for the sellers.
However, under the right set of conditions, you can legally buy cannabis online and have it delivered safely.
Here is a guide to legally buying cannabis online
Most cannabis resources understand their obligation to applicable laws. While they continue to advocate for more freedom, they appreciate the value of compliance. So, they have had to indulge in temporary fixes or band-aid solutions
The challenge requires cannabis vendors to create and maintain robust websites that the consumer can navigate easily. The websites must have extensive and well-described inventory with easy payment options.
Some websites present themselves as virtual "head" shops believing that they need to be all things to all people. The more substantial websites focus on limited product lines with deep and rich descriptions and illustrations. They will include labeling detail, third-party testing results, and more, answering consumer questions in advance.
In locales where they have decriminalized cannabis, customers can place orders online with a nearby dispensary for later pickup. Customers anywhere can order hemp products (≥ 0.03% THC content) for mail delivery. However, using the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, UPS, or similar interstate systems to mail cannabis remains 100% illegal.
How to take delivery of online cannabis
Customers can order medical cannabis for delivery within the following states:
Each state has its own regulations, and some scrutinize systems more diligently than others. One workaround has customers ordering prudently to increase their dosage of "acceptable."
So, cannabis shoppers should think twice about ordering from websites promising "nationwide delivery.” That may be true in Canada, but the guarantee is illegal. It is also true that cannabis vendors must be licensed in states where they deliver, and those states remain very tight-fisted about permitting licenses.
Online stores can, of course, mail cannabis anonymously. They can wrap packages in nondescript brown paper and mail them to a P.O. box. However, the customer – not the online store - pays the penalty when inspectors identify a suspect package. And it would be best if you remembered that shipping marijuana by common carrier is a federal crime.
Consumers should not fall for low prices. Online cannabis dispensaries do have a pricing advantage over physical stores. They may pass that savings along to customers. However, if the price seems unusually lower than your local dispensary, it raises concerns about quality and legitimacy.
Where states, counties, and cities permit cannabis sales, some online cannabis sites deliver through contracted delivery services like Eaze or NUGG:
Eaze is a California-based technology platform connecting licensed cannabis dispensaries with cannabis customers throughout California and Michigan. Created to serve medical marijuana customers, Eaze connects them with state and local licensed cultivators, manufacturers, and distributors where permitted.
Eaze works like the many delivery systems created by grocers and restaurants to survive during pandemic lockdowns. They use trained employees to package and deliver the products. Distributors in more states hope to secure this freedom in the future. After all, some states have allowed beer, wine, and spirits to be delivered using similar platforms.
NUGG works out of Marina del Rey, California. Qualified customers can shop for medical marijuana online or by smartphone app. The NUGG mission seeks "to operate legally, efficiently, and connect on more than just a transactional basis." Despite its origin in medical marijuana, it offers cannabis flowers, edibles, and concentrates menus. However, they offer a much less inviting image online.
So, what is a cannabis buyer to do?
Assuming you want to do things legally, you should take the following steps:
Start with a computer search for the position taken by your local government on purchase and delivery.
Identify the dispensaries listed as “licensed and approved” for sale and delivery in your area.
Order cannabis online and follow their directions for delivery.
People certainly do buy cannabis online and receive their orders by illegal means. But authorities following the Colorado or California model have built many red flags into the licenses they offer. These seed-to-sale rules monitor everyone who touches cannabis in its lifespan. As the data accumulates, the monitors will catch violations. Assuming you willingly risk getting caught, you still have problems.
Online or on-ground dispensaries invest heavily in securing their license and sustaining their image. They will not survive criminal charges. Nonetheless, websites continue to make promises they cannot keep. They rely on disinformation, scams spread by word-of-mouth or careless shopping.
If you have been buying from street dealers, your mindset may want to run the same risk. But it is a mistake to believe you can find legitimate dealers online that are willing and able to mail your cannabis purchase unless you live and buy in a locale that has permitted buy and deliver.