There was a lot of hope that California’s fully legal marijuana industry would give way to new tech services, allowing packages of marijuana to be delivered to the doorsteps of the stoner community by way of autonomous vehicles, but new regulations created last week by the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control puts the kibosh on this novel concept—prohibiting toker transport via drones, self-driving cars or other vehicles not directly operated by a human.
Once the state’s recreational marijuana trade finally gets off the ground sometime next year, a move predicted to spawn a $5 billion boon to the state’s economy, the market will have to settle for conventional delivery services, while other industries, from pizza to prescription drugs, still get to relish in the possibilities of using unmanned technology.
“Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” the emergency regulations read, reports “alpha geek” publication Ars Technica.
“Deliveries may be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle. Cannabis goods may not be visible to the public during deliveries. Cannabis goods may not be left in an unattended motor vehicle unless the vehicle has an active alarm system. Vehicles used for delivery must have a dedicated, active GPS device that enables the dispensary to identify the geographic location of the vehicle during delivery,” the regulations read.
The new rules are expected to create some additional hardships for start-ups like MDelivers, Eaze and Trees Delivery, which have been experimenting with the delivering cannabis products through the use of drones. But even without the state’s new restrictions, these types of companies were destined to run into trouble with the federal government.
Not too long ago, a number of reports indicated that some weed delivery services had petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to bring their drone-driven dope deliveries to states where marijuana is legal. Companies like Eaze, which has been called the Uber of medical marijuana, have been working to get its drone service approved by the federal government since 2014.
But so far, the FAA has not given any indication as to whether it is going to permit the cannabis industry to use drone delivery.
There are some influential companies out there, like Amazon, pushing the FAA to change some of the rules associated with drone delivery. But even if those changes come to pass, they are not expected to have any impact on states that have legalized the leaf for medical and recreational use.
In short, it is going to take a change in federal law before these types of weed delivery services get off the ground.