Customers love delivery services. Whether ordering sweet-and-sour pork with a side of eggrolls or a bag of marijuana with some edible gummies on the side, California delivery services enjoy big demand. The demand makes sense when you consider the time involved with getting through traffic on California’s jammed-packed roadways.
In the age of Uber, UberEats, and Postmates, technology makes delivery services much more available and easier to operate. Apps power these delivery services, allowing customers to place online orders from their smartphones. Apps also provide an inexpensive way for businesses to manage a fleet of delivery drivers.
Small marijuana businesses have been making deliveries in California since the start of the decade. After Prop. 64 passed, they expanded into recreational delivery, and more competition came on the scene. California marijuana businesses enjoy legal status, but a muddle of often contradictory state and local laws leave them in a legal limbo when it comes to delivery.
The overall lack of clarity in California’s marijuana laws creates this legal limbo. Prop. 64 states it’s legal for adults over 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, up to seven grams of abstract, and grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes. Most people find that clear enough, provided they know how to measure an ounce or seven grams and know what a marijuana leaf looks like.
Can they grow any of those six plants outside? Are medical dispensaries open in their towns? When and where can you shop for legal pot? No one really knows.
This opaqueness results from having statewide legalization with few guidelines. As a result, cities and counties decided to come up with their own regulations. Now Californians are confronted with regulations that change from county to county and town to town. Some jurisdictions embrace legalized pot, others could make you wonder if Jeff Sessions is mayor.
Obviously, you don’t want to get busted for delivering marijuana in one of these unfriendly regions. Penalties could be severe, including fines, arrest, and prosecution. Of course, the penalties are variable and undefined. One jurisdiction might confiscate your product and impound your car. Another might give you a warning. Another might give you your Miranda warning. Chances are, you’ll need a good local attorney.
California law considers a vehicle a marijuana business if it’s engaged in deliveries. That means that to be legal, you have to have the proper licensing for the area, if delivery is permitted. For example, in the Bay Area, there are 114 different jurisdictions, all with their own unique laws. For a delivery driver, that’s problematic. Imagine if Uber and Lyft were legal in one town but not the next. A lot of grumpy passengers might complain about driver’s pulling over at town lines and telling them the ride’s over.
Despite this, the marijuana delivery business flourishes across California. It’s hard to argue with consumer demand. Many delivery businesses simply deliver across their regions, quietly in towns and counties where the legal status of marijuana delivery remains questionable.
Some delivery services solve the problem with technology. Speed Weed, one of the largest marijuana delivery services, provides customers with an app that shows where delivery is available. Speed Weed’s system tracks the legality of delivery by geography and automatically prohibits it in certain regions. For example, since Van Nuys and San Pedro have both declared weed delivery illegal, Speed Weed can’t provide service to requests from those cities.
Advocates of marijuana delivery point out that the services reduce marijuana DUI-related incidents and provide a method for sick people to more easily obtain medical marijuana. As strong as these arguments may be, certain communities in California simply won’t listen. Many protest these restrictions. Perhaps when these jurisdictions consider lost tax revenues, they will lift the restrictions.