Although cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, numerous states have decriminalized the substance, allow cannabis for medical purposes with a valid prescription, or allow adults 21 and older to use marijuana recreationally.
Currently, at least six states also allow legal marijuana delivery:
Rhode Island recently joined these half-dozen states, although apparently, no retailer has applied for a delivery license yet.
The laws regarding delivery vary from one state to the next. Some require delivery drivers to be registered employees of licensed marijuana dispensaries, while others allow anyone at least 21 years of age to deliver cannabis.
A Breakdown of Current Marijuana Delivery Laws
The six states allowing cannabis delivery services have different rules and regulations.
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana after voters approved Proposition 215 in 1996. Since 2016, both medical and recreational cannabis have been legal there.
It’s no surprise that the Golden State was one of the first states to permit marijuana delivery directly to customers. Delivery drivers can carry cannabis products in their vehicles with a value of up to $5,000.
However, new legislation will allow up to $10,000 of cannabis in delivery vehicles starting January 1, 2023. Drivers must carry a lockbox only they can access. They must also complete a paper or digital ledger for each transaction with details, such as:
- Type of product sold
- Brand and cost of the products
- Track and trace data
- Volume or number of pieces in each package
Every dispensary must use a log to monitor their delivery drivers. They must record every address the drivers serve to keep track of all destinations and routes.
The delivery regulations in Nevada are similar to those in California. Couriers can’t carry more than five ounces of flower in a single trip. However, they can make multiple stops to deliver the product.
Delivery drivers can’t drop off cannabis at casinos. They can only deliver to private residences. They must also use unmarked cars. Using a two-wheel vehicle for delivery is illegal.
In Colorado, the legality of cannabis delivery is left to local municipalities. Deliveries must go through a third-party fulfillment contractor. Dispensaries must also have a delivery permit to provide home courier services.
For example, licensed transporters in Denver must have a state delivery permit, a Denver transporter license, and a Denver delivery permit. However, a dispensary license only requires a Denver delivery permit and a state delivery permit.
Like other states, deliveries in Oregon can only be to private residences. Delivering cannabis to transient dwellings is illegal. Addresses must also be in the same city as the retailer.
An employee of the retailer location can make deliveries. However, only one delivery is allowed to each address each day. Permitted hours are between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. Couriers can’t carry more than $3,000 worth of product in their vehicle.
Massachusetts has stricter regulations than other states. Two couriers wearing body cams must fulfill every cannabis delivery. However, vehicles can contain up to $10,000 in goods, much higher than most other states.
Legal recreational cannabis delivery started in 2019. Regulations include the same laws as other states, including maximum values for the product in delivery vehicles and monitoring couriers with GPS.
Many cannabis businesses offer delivery services within a specific radius of their dispensaries. For example, Winewood Organics offers free delivery to customers within two miles of the dispensary. Anyone located within a fifteen-mile radius has a $50 minimum order.
States Gearing Up for Cannabis Delivery
In New York, the Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) recently announced qualifying licensees could submit their own proposed retail locations for approval. Before the new guidance, licensees were required to receive a site from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).
Despite the guidance changes, the DASNY will continue trying to secure places for cannabis retailers without their own locations. Anyone with a proposed location can also seek financial support from the Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund for renovations.
The OCM also announced new guidance for delivering marijuana products. Retail licensees must fulfill orders at a warehouse while building a permanent dispensary for up to one year. Each business can have up to 25 delivery staff to meet the requirements under New York cannabis law.
Couriers can use motor vehicles, bicycles, scooters, or similar transportation methods to deliver products to customers 21 and older. However, customers cannot pick up their orders from the warehouse. In-person sales are also prohibited.
Although new legalization allows delivering recreational marijuana in Rhode Island, dispensaries have yet to request to add delivery to their services. The state licenses five out of six medical marijuana dispensaries. They were allowed to start selling cannabis for recreational use on December 1, 2022.
One of the medical marijuana dispensaries, Sweetspot Dispensary in South Kingstown, hasn’t submitted an application to also sell recreational cannabis. Currently, they only deliver medical marijuana products to private residences.
Illinois governor JB Pritzker recently announced his support for cannabis delivery in the future, after early saying he was not advocating for his state to follow others in delivering marijuana to customers. However, he now supports the idea after touring Ivy Hall, a dispensary in the Bucktown neighborhood of Chicago that opened last month.
The first social equity dispensary opened in the state last week. According to Pritzker, all 192 licenses were issued, allowing more social equity licensees to open their cannabis facilities in the coming months.
Pritzker believes that marijuana delivery, when properly regulated, is no different than a customer walking into a store to make their purchase, and should not be treated differently. However, regulations must ensure the person placing the order is the person who receives the product, and that they’re legally allowed to possess cannabis.
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