Washington Officials Warn Against Cannabis Delivery ‘Loophole’

Regulators in Washington state have warned cannabis companies away from home delivery options that claim to have found a loophole in state regulations, which specifically outlaw the commercial delivery of retail cannabis products.

Full story after the jump.

In a policy bulletin last week, Washington cannabis regulators said, explicitly, that retail cannabis home delivery is “not legal” despite language in the law that would appear to provide a loophole for the service.

According to the Liquor and Cannabis Board bulletin, “some companies claim to have found a way around the delivery prohibition” with the part of the law that states:

“The delivery by a person twenty-one years of age or older to one or more persons twenty-one years of age or older, during a single twenty-four hour period, for noncommercial purposes and not conditioned upon or done in connection with the provision or receipt of financial consideration, of any of the following marijuana products, is not a violation of this section, this chapter, or any other provisions of Washington state law.”

The bulletin clarifies that the “exception is specifically for non-commercial, and non-financial purposes.”

“It does not exempt licensees from their prohibition on home delivery, and there is no legal pathway for commercial delivery, delivery service, or a delivery app to be used to facilitate home delivery from retail licensed locations to customers.” – Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board, February 26, 2020, Bulletin No. 20-01

According to an Inlander report, the bulletin is targeting Pelican Delivers, which provides an app for retail cannabis home delivery in the state. Through the app, the company facilitates payment from the customer to a dispensary and provides a delivery driver, who is paid for the service, with the customer and the dispensary, the report says.

It’s unclear, however, who pays the driver, which has led to the confusion about the legality of the service as it could be argued that the driver is simply delivering a legal product but is not accepting cash from the customer; however, the LCD bulletin appears to clarify the agency’s position.

“Retail licensees cannot participate in home delivery, home delivery services, or apps for home delivery that violate any of the two stipulations [in the law],” the bulletin says. “If approached with proposals claiming to allow for legal home delivery, please contact your enforcement officer.”

Last year, regulators sent draft legislation to the members of the state’s cannabis industry that included adding retail delivery for producers that cultivate 2,000 square feet or less in an effort to give them a “leg up” over larger-scale producers, LCB spokesman Brian Smith told the Spokesman-Review last summer. That bill has yet to materialize in the Legislature.

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