The cradle and current capital of America’s legal marijuana economy is unquestionably Colorado. The country’s first recreational dispensaries were here, and soon, Denver will have the country’s first Amsterdam-style cannabis cafes. But all the while, something’s been missing—legitimate cannabis delivery.
The first retail storefronts selling recreational cannabis opened for business in Colorado on January 1, 2014. The state’s marijuana dispensaries, which famously outnumber Starbucks locations and McDonald’s franchises (as if that’s a bad thing), sold more than $1.3 billion worth of cannabis last year. Yet the simple act of ordering marijuana products via telephone or internet, with its appearance on your doorstep some time later, is still an illegal act in Colorado.
The brace of outfits offering delivery do so illegally.
Since they’re still in business despite advertising on the internet and publicized by media, running outlaw weed businesses isn’t much of a risk for them. But considering the cannabis is technically part of the “gray market” and not subject to the state’s official quality control process, including tests for pesticides and contamination from bacteria or mold, wildcat delivery services are a risk for consumers.
In any event, not permitting delivery is a bizarre oversight—and, considering how long delivery’s been up and running in states lagging behind Colorado in almost every other area (hi, California), it’s near-inexplicable. Coming to the rescue is the Colorado State Senate, where a bill to (finally) permit marijuana delivery was introduced last week.
As Westword reports, under Senate Bill 192, already-permitted recreational or medical dispensaries would be allowed to send an employee or a contractor with up to an ounce (two ounces for medical patients) to residences. Local jurisdictions would not have the right to ban delivery, but shipments would not be allowed to a business, dormitory or hotel—all similar to a recently launched delivery program in Oregon.
If SB 192 is approved, medical dispensaries could start delivering in 2018, with recreational dispensaries earning the right the following year. According to state Rep. Jonathan Singer, one of the bill’s sponsors, delivery solves part of the problem with marijuana DUIs and also gives patients too sick to leave the house a viable option for accessing cannabis.
But in addition to delivery, SB 192 also gives Colorado’s recreational marijuana sector a line of defense from any federal crackdown led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Right now, inventory of Colorado cannabis is tightly controlled—everything is supposed to be tracked from seed to sale. SB 192 would allow recreational dispensaries to transfer inventory to a medical dispensary, should there be any change in local or federal law.
A majority of Americans are in favor of legalization, but medical marijuana enjoys even more support, including among right-wing lawmakers. Even Donald Trump hasn’t had anything bad to say about medical marijuana.
For these reasons, medical marijuana dispensaries are a logical safe haven during the crisis of a crackdown. Federal drug cops will never be the wiser.
SB 192 has its first hearing on March 1.