CALIFORNIA – Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, California dispensaries allowed their customers to pick up products curbside to prevent any further spread of the disease. Although COVID restrictions are easing in the state, cannabis regulators want to make curbside pickup a permanent part of retail cannabis sales.
According to the Fresno Bee, extending the curbside pickup option was proposed by the California DCC (Department of Cannabis Control,) and could be enacted by the end of this year.
Curbside pickup first became possible on March 15th, 2020, when the California Bureau of Cannabis Control suspended the ban on drive-thru services, enabling dispensaries to begin applying for licenses. The first dispensaries were approved and received temporary curbside pickup licenses just three days later.
California was just one of many states to authorize curbside pickup and delivery as a safer alternative to entering a physical business in the early weeks of the pandemic. The typical curbside delivery experience is as follows:
- Customers place an order online or by phone at their local dispensary.
- Once notified that their order is ready for pickup, the customer can drive to the store and park in a designated space.
- A dispensary employee comes to the customer’s vehicle to verify their ID and take payment.
- The employee then retrieves the cannabis products inside the dispensary and delivers them to the customer.
“DCC began authorizing retailers to engage in curbside delivery at the start of the pandemic, in order to facilitate important public health measures, as part of disaster relief provisions in the regulations,” said DCC spokesperson Christina Dempsey.
Dempsey adds that curbside pickup was offered for over two years without any significant concerns raised by customers or retailers. In contrast, many businesses and consumers support the permanent implementation of curbside service.
“As such, DCC determined that the prohibitions on curbside delivery are no longer necessary. DCC also heard significant interest from retailers and consumers alike for continuing to allow curbside delivery,” she continued.
Cannabis retailer and President of the United Cannabis Business Association, Jerred Kiloh, said about one-third of his sales are completed via curbside pickup.
“The reality is, this is safer for people. It’s easier. It’s convenient, and it’s become a part of our whole economy,” Kiloh explains.
The recent push for permanent curbside delivery in California comes just a few weeks after Ontario, Canada’s biggest market for cannabis sales, enacted its own program for curbside pickup and delivery on March 15th. Unlike California, the law in Ontario does not permit cannabis retail stores to operate solely as a delivery service.
Tips For Curbside Cannabis Delivery
If it is your first time purchasing cannabis through curbside pickup, there are a few things you should know to make the process easy and convenient:
- Do your research before ordering
Ordering cannabis online or through the phone, while convenient, can result in receiving a product that does not suit your needs. Without the help of a budtender to recommend a strain or product, you should research what you are purchasing to ensure it is the proper dosage. Typically, you can find further information on strains and products on the dispensary’s website.
- Remember your ID
Just as if you were going inside the dispensary, you must have a valid form of ID with you. If you do not have an ID, the dispensary legally cannot sell you cannabis.
- Monitor order confirmations and pickup times
Don’t forget about the weed you ordered earlier in the day by the time it’s ready to be picked up later on. Set a reminder to check for confirmation messages or updates to your pickup time.
- Pay with cash
Cash is king when purchasing cannabis. If you are able to bring exact change, that is always best. While debit cards are accepted at most dispensaries, you will likely be charged an additional processing fee.
- Be Patient
California dispensaries are busy places. Due to high sales volume, it could take several hours between placing your order and being able to pick it up. But rest assured, the employees are doing everything they can to prepare your order in a timely fashion. If you feel you were waiting too long, do not hesitate to contact the dispensary about your estimated pickup time.
- Double-check your order before leaving
Although most dispensaries operate like well-oiled machines, mistakes do happen occasionally. That is why you should always check your order before leaving the parking lot. The last thing you want is to make it all the way home with someone else’s weed.
In addition to the extension of curbside cannabis delivery, the DCC proposed several additional regulatory changes, including:
- Increase in the value and amount a cannabis delivery driver can have in their vehicle to $10,000 as well as removing the requirements for goods to be pre-ordered before they leave the dispensary.
- Permit local consumption lounges to sell non-alcoholic beverages and food.
- Allow cultivators to enter the weight of an entire harvest batch into Metrc, a product tracking system, rather than weighing each individual plant.
- Cannabis goods to be displayed by all licensees participating in an event.
- Prohibiting products classified as medical devices or over the counter drugs (eye drops, nasal sprays, etc…)
- Eliminate the requirement for cannabis beverages to be in opaque bottles.
- Require all bulk goods transferred between businesses to be labeled with allergens and ingredients.
- Specify the types of conflicts of interest prohibited in testing laboratories.
The DCC also released a video of a recent meeting wherein Dempsy highlights all of the changes they hope to make throughout the coming year.
“The proposed regulations contain numerous changes resulting from public feedback and designed to simplify the regulatory environment while enhancing consumer protections,” Dempsey said.
If the proposed regulations are approved, the DCC believes they will go into effect sometime this fall. The deadline for the public to submit comments on the matter is April 19th at 5 p.m. PT. All comments can be submitted via email to email@example.com.