California legalized cannabis in 2016. Approximately 400 clinics in California now offer home delivery of cannabis. The 2016 law stated that local governments could ban businesses in their communities if they so wished. However, the state’s commercial and professional code specifies that governments “shall not prevent the delivery of cannabis or cannabis products on the public highway” by a licensed operator.
However, some municipalities are suing California to see if the deliveries can be banned.
So far, judges have temporarily sided with the state and ruled that deliveries cannot be banned. While cities have banned recreational sales, they have not put in place any specific orders prohibiting shipments.
The League of California Cities and police chiefs had complained that unlimited home deliveries would create a chaotic market for largely hidden cannabis transactions while undermining the local control guaranteed by the 2016 law legalizing cannabis sales in the state. The dispute between the state and 25 of its local governments also raises a fundamental question: who is in charge, the state bureaucracy that oversees the market, or the local governments where cannabis is grown and sold?
On the other hand, cannabis companies and consumers have lobbied to allow home deliveries. California is a large state, and without dispensary sales, cannabis “deserts” have developed, where legal sales of cannabis are not accessible. Home delivery also allows patients with mobility impairments to access treatment that they might not otherwise have.
As important as this issue is to many California residents, it will remain outstanding until November. Until then, municipalities will have to make do with delivery.