Cannabis delivery is a hot topic in California these days. The focus of discussion is the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) regulation 5416(d), which provides that a “delivery employee may deliver to any jurisdiction within the State of California provided that such delivery is conducted in compliance with all delivery provisions of this division.”
The dispute involves the question of exactly what California voters had intended when they voted on Proposition 64, which made marijuana legal in California. Leading the dispute is the League of California Cities, which states that BCC 5416 “subverts the intent of the voters who approved Proposition 64 by removing local government’s ability to prohibit cannabis deliveries within its jurisdiction.”
These days, consumers can have nearly anything delivered from Amazon including office supplies, electronics, groceries, and food from a local restaurant. It seems reasonable that if you have just ordered some munchies like ice cream or potato chips in preparation for an evening with Game of Thrones, you might also want to have your favorite dispensary send over an order of your favorite Indica strain. However, 25 California localities don’t agree.
These 25 local jurisdictions have sued the BCC to clarify if they actually have control over whether cannabis can be delivered to residents of their cities. They question BCC Regulation 5416(d), which has apparently expressly authorized cannabis deliveries statewide. Their point is that local jurisdictions should be able to decide who can legally sell cannabis and related products in their cities. After all, the licensing is a responsibility of local authorities.
According to the BCC, delivery services are non-storefront retailers. They are only allowed to sell cannabis products through delivery to residences, and customers are not allowed to come into the shop to buy. All deliveries must be made by actual employees of the company. Independent contractors or outside delivery services cannot make deliveries of cannabis.
The problem arises when local communities want to remain free of cannabis dispensaries but are finding that dispensaries are delivering cannabis from other neighboring cities.
There is still a thriving Black Market for cannabis in California, and it has long been the case that growers would deliver their product to their customers’ homes or businesses. One argument is that it is difficult to tell whether your cannabis is being delivered by a legal delivery dispensary or by a black market provider. In the case of Black Market cannabis, there are no legal safeguards against the use of toxic substances such as pesticides or drugs to enhance the potency of the marijuana. There is also the possibility that Black Market providers could deliver marijuana to underage consumers near schools and parks.
Another reason why cities want to keep control over who may deliver cannabis products within their city limits has to do with tax revenues. Municipalities have been encouraged to allow the sale of cannabis because it will bring in much-needed tax revenue. If cannabis is being sold by a delivery service in the next county, the collection of taxes on the sale can be difficult if not impossible.
If you are wondering how to start a cannabis delivery business, you will need to find and contract for a location that is zoned for the legal sale of cannabis. The application process is similar to that of a storefront dispensary except for the requirement that sales may be only off-premises and the cannabis products must be stored where customers are not allowed.
Considering the regulatory confusion that now infects California’s legal cannabis industry, it is probably a good idea to also hire a good cannabis consultant or attorney who specializes in cannabis law.
Current problems with the laws governing cannabis will eventually be worked out. Delivery of cannabis is one area that is expected to show significant growth as the industry matures so don’t let current confusion discourage you from planning your legal cannabis delivery service.
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