Marijuana Delivery: Legal in Seattle Soon?

Who will become the Uber of Seattle Weed deliveries?
Who will become the Uber of Seattle Weed delivery?

Seattle marijuana delivery services are illegal and widely available. A recent Seattle Times op-ed addressing this issue accurately stated that marijuana delivery services are unequivocally illegal under state law. Despite this, marijuana delivery services advertise in publications like The Stranger and online through Leafly. The op-ed asserts that the proliferation of Seattle cannabis delivery services stems from a lack of enforcement.

Seattle city officials and the Washington State Legislature are now proposing a solution to the so-far vexing marijuana delivery problem. On January 19, Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and Mayor Ed Murray issued a statement supporting House Bill 2368 (HB 2368) that would create a pilot program for legal marijuana home delivery service in Washington cities with 650,000 or more people. Seeing as how only one city in Washington even comes close to having this many people, this bill is clearly aimed straight at Seattle. Mr. Holmes, who was integral in passing Initiative 502 to legalize recreational cannabis in Washington, commented on how the illegal delivery services undermine Washington’s regulatory scheme and how legal delivery would address this problem. He is right.

Seattle Mayor Murray was also supportive of the bill:

We must address illegal delivery services that are undermining I-502 and allow responsible businesses to offer delivery service in Seattle. The proposed pilot delivery program, along with increased enforcement of existing marijuana laws, will better protect customers, patients and business owners, while strengthening the legal marijuana industry.

Though HB 2368 is at this point only being proposed, the support it has already received from City Attorney Holmes and from Mayor Murray leads our cannabis lawyers to believe it will eventually become state law. Mayor Murray was formerly a powerful and widely-respected Washington State legislator and he no doubt still has influence on that governmental body despite having relocated from Olympia to Seattle.

If HB 2368 does pass, here’s is what it could mean:

  • Delivery will be allowed only in Seattle. HB 2368 allows for delivery in cities with populations greater than 650,000. It is no coincidence that the only qualifying city is Seattle. The next closest qualifying city is Spokane, which has just over 200,000 residents.
  • It will be a temporary program. This bill will create a two year pilot program. This is the legislature’s way of “experimenting” with legal marijuana. If the legislature does not elect to extend it, the program would terminate on September 1, 2018.
  • Only five retailers can deliver marijuana. A select group of only five retailers would receive a “marijuana delivery endorsement” under HB 2368. Nothing in the bill indicates how these retailers would be selected. Will it be based on merit or on a lottery or on some combination of the two?
  • Consumer residency will be required. Seattle cannabis retail stores with a cannabis delivery endorsement could deliver only to a private residence and only Washington residents over twenty-one can order marijuana for delivery.
  • The Liquor and Cannabis Board would have rule making power. Unsurprisingly, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board would be tasked with regulating marijuana deliveries.

If HB 2368 does become law, it will likely go through some changes. The bill has only been proposed at this point and it will likely be the topic of debate in the legislature. Additionally, Governor Inslee would need to sign the bill into law and he may veto certain sections. This bill is not a sure-bet to become law, but we think it has a very good shot.

For more on the legal issues surrounding marijuana delivery check out the following: