At a meeting on April 26th, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted 4-1 to approve home delivery of cannabis in the Commonwealth. A final vote on the details of a home delivery plan is expected in mid-May; no start date for home delivery has been announced.

In an article in the Boston Globe on 5/2, several issues about home delivery were brought up:

  • Consumers will have to register in person at a bricks and mortar dispensary to receive deliveries.
  • 3rd party delivery companies and their employee (who must be separate from dispensaries) will need to pass rigorous background checks.
  • Two employees must attend each delivery and must wear body cameras to record every customer transaction.
  • Deliveries will not be possible in municipalities that have banned cannabis dispensaries.

While we applaud the commissions’ move towards home delivery, we’re afraid that the restrictions posed will make it difficult for adults in Massachusetts to receive cannabis deliveries at home, and the staffing required for 3rd-party delivery will make home-delivered cannabis even more expensive than the already high fees charged by dispensaries.

What the Cannabis Control Commission Tentatively Approved

According to the Boston Globe article “Home delivery of marijuana in Massachusetts could start this year,” delivery of cannabis products would come only from licensed dispensaries, not cultivators or processors.  Business making the deliveries, though, would be independent firms who could contract with multiple dispensaries. “To get a license,” reports the Globe, “those companies and their employees would have to clear rigorous background checks and vehicle inspections, plus meet security and inventory-tracking requirements.”

Under the proposal approved by the Commission, for at least two years delivery license would go only to those in the Commissions’ economic empowerment and social equity programs, defined as companies that are led by or employ members of communities with high rates of drug arrests.

There will be a number of restrictions imposed as part of this proposed home delivery plan:

  • Consumers will have to register in person at a bricks and mortar dispensary to receive deliveries.
  • Customers will have to sign a manifest to receive their deliveries.
  • Initially, customers will be able to pay only in cash
  • Two employees must attend each delivery and must wear body cameras to record every customer transaction.
  • Deliveries will not be possible in municipalities that have banned cannabis dispensaries.

Issues

Making home delivery customers register in person at a dispensary, with so few dispensaries open so far, will discourage many from taking advantage of this service.

Signing a manifest and having their sale recorded on video may stop customers who value their privacy.

Cash-only sales, in a society that has become largely cash-free, means home delivery customers must travel out of their homes to a bank or ATM before making purchases.

Restricting delivery to participants in the Commission’s economic empowerment and social equity programs, which have failed so far to establish any such dispensaries, may run into the same problems, delaying home delivery even further.

Use of 3rd-party companies, with 2-person delivery teams, will add significantly to the cost of home-delivered cannabis,

Preclusion of sales in banned communities means tens of thousands of potential home delivery customers in Essex County will be unable to use this service.  To date, 11 communities have outright bans: Andover, Boxford, Danvers, Hamilton, Lawrence, Lynnfield, Merrimac, Methuen, Middleton, North Andover, Wenham.

Impact of This Plan

The Commission is trying to provide a convenience to cannabis consumers and benefit grass roots, minority business at the same time, but their desire to build in rigorous safeguards, may be defeating both purposes.

  • Getting home delivery will not be easy for consumers.
  • The process may seem like an invasion of privacy.
  • Home delivered cannabis will be prohibitively expensive for most consumers.
  • Delivery will be impossible in 80 communities in the Commonwealth, including 11 in Essex County alone.
  • Setting up and staffing a delivery company will be difficult for the people the Commission favors.
  • There may be no viable candidates companies for delivery service for the foreseeable future.

What Other States are Doing

Colorado state legislators advanced a bill to make medical cannabis delivery legal in 2020 and recreational deliveries in 2021.

California recently made cannabis delivery legal everywhere in the state.  Before this, each municipality to determine their own regulations, creating a confusing patchwork of where some towns permitted delivery and others banned it. 

In Oregon, delivery is regulated by municipality, and few cities other than Portland have set up delivery services.  Restrictions on these firms are intense (they must operate with the same rigorous standards as dispensaries), and costly (drivers must return to the shop between each delivery).  So far only a few delivery services are operating, and these are struggling to make a profit.

In Washington, DC, where weed is legal, but there are no legal dispensaries, delivery services sell related products, like T-shirts, and provide a free “gift” of cannabis.

In Washington State, dispensaries are allowed to use common carriers to deliver cannabis to their customers.

In nearby Maine and Vermont, recreational cannabis is legal, but selling it and delivering it aren’t.  Because of this ban, delivery services similar to those in DC that provide a small “free gift” of cannabis with purchase of something else are doing a lively business in cities like Portland and Burlington. To address this, legislation legalizing delivery is pending in both states.

Why Growing Your Own Cannabis is a Great Alternative

If you’ve been waiting for home delivery to make cannabis more convenient, you may still have a long wait here in Massachusetts.  A better solution? Grow your own. To learn more about how you can grow high quality, organic cannabis, at a fraction of what dispensaries and home delivery services will charge, contact Home Grow Community. We’re a local, family-run business specializing in home cultivation of cannabis.

Sources

Boston Globe: “Home delivery of marijuana in Massachusetts could start this year”

Marijuana Business Daily: “Colorado House panel advances marijuana home delivery bill” 

Green Entrepreneur: “California Gives Green Light to  Marijuana Home Delivery” 

Forbes: “A Tale of Two Markets: Cannabis Delivery in California and Oregon”

Gentleman Toker: “How to Get Weed in DC”

Washington State Legislature