Marijuana Delivery Services: It’s Complicated

Marijuana Delivery ServicesSo, you want to start a marijuana delivery service? Not so fast. What you want to do may or may not be legal in your state.

State law varies significantly on the issue of cannabis delivery. Lawmakers have made cannabis delivery businesses illegal in some states, usually to avoid coming up against federal enforcement priorities outlined in the Cole Memo by preventing cannabis deliveries that may be diverted out of state. However, some states allow cannabis deliveries.

The below is a quick rundown on where Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington stand with respect to the legality of cannabis deliveries.

Alaska:  Alaska legalized recreational cannabis in February 2015 but licenses for recreational shops will not be issued until sometime in 2016. When the Alaska market is up and running, you should expect to see delivery services right away as they are allowed under the new laws.

Alaska previously banned MMJ deliveries outright, but the state has taken a different approach with recreational cannabis. The law that legalized marijuana in Alaska, Ballot Measure 2, expressly calls for “delivering, distributing, or selling marijuana or marijuana products to consumers.” One of the reasons Alaska legalized deliveries is because it has so many “outposts” where there may be no local source of supply.

California:  California has not directly addressed the delivery of MMJ at the state level. Instead, counties and cities decide whether to allow delivery, resulting in a patchwork of local regulations around the state. Los Angeles, one of the largest cannabis markets in the nation, may allow for delivery, but it is unclear. Proposition D, seems to allow for the issuance of MMJ licenses to vehicles, which suggests that delivery services are allowed. However, Proposition D also restricts licenses only to MMJ businesses that were licensed in 2007 and, at that time, no delivery services were actually licensed. Despite that ambiguity, businesses may want to steer clear as the L.A. City attorney has made it a priority to shut down at least one major marijuana delivery app.

Colorado: Colorado prohibits delivery of recreational cannabis, but MMJ deliveries are allowed so long as they are not done for profit. Only a patient’s primary caregiver can make a delivery.

Illinois: Illinois allows delivery by a patient’s primary caregiver, but otherwise prohibits cannabis deliveries.

Nevada: Nevada permits the delivery of cannabis from a retail Medical Marijuana Establishment to “[a] person who holds a valid registry identification card or his or her designated primary caregiver.” The delivery process is heavily regulated to ensure that product is not diverted while in transport.

Oregon: Oregon’s MMJ rules prohibit cannabis deliveries, but Measure 91 (the initiative that legalizes recreational cannabis) states that “deliveries may be made by the marijuana retailer to consumers pursuant to bona fide orders received on the licensed premises prior to delivery.” We read this to mean that if a consumer places its order in a retail store, an order can be delivered to the consumer at another location. If this portion of the measure stands, it would seem that a consumer could go to his or her favorite marijuana retailer and place a standing order for X quantity of Y strain to be delivered every Tuesday for the next year. It would even seem that this same consumer might be able to call, text message, or communicate via an app to the retailer to adjust their standing order. We fully expect the Oregon Liquor Control Commission to expand on and fully define marijuana deliveries as a result of its upcoming rule-making process.

Washington: Cannabis deliveries are illegal in Washington, and this holds true for both medical and recreational marijuana. The State Senate recently passed Senate Bill 5052, which overhauls the State’s current medical marijuana laws (which laws formerly allowed for delivery). Despite massive changes in state law, the delivery of all cannabis is now illegal.