Weed Delivery Gets the Green Light in California
Guest post by Kate Harveston
As the old cliché goes, the most dangerous aspect of using marijuana remains being caught with it. With more states legalizing cannabis for medical or recreational purposes, law enforcement has struggled with establishing guidelines for what qualifies as intoxication behind the wheel. No definitive screening test has yet proven effective in evaluating driver impairment due to cannabis use.
Convictions for marijuana-related offenses disproportionately impact minorities. Millions of people, particularly men of color, languish in prison cells for the possession and use of this simple plant, even as legalization efforts move forward. Now, California — the state which first legalized medical marijuana use — has approved a weed delivery measure that helps patients get their medical marijuana faster and recreational users to avoid driving with product on them.
Why California Approved Weed Delivery
Medical marijuana patients face a conundrum when obtaining their medication. While driving under the influence of cannabis remains illegal, current drug tests can detect metabolites in the bloodstream for 30 days or longer in those who use the plant regularly. This means medical marijuana users risk arrest every time they get behind the wheel, even when they experience no impairment.
California voters overwhelmingly supported the rule passed by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control allowing for marijuana delivery. The measure levels the playing field a bit for medical cannabis patients, as pharmaceutical companies have long possessed the means to ship prescriptions straight to patients’ doorsteps.
Allowing weed delivery benefits everyone. Permitting cannabis delivery correlates to fewer impaired drivers on the roadways. Additionally, marijuana delivery leads to a slight decrease in the amount of vehicle traffic clogging California’s roadways. As cities like Sacramento choke on high levels of air pollution, any improvement deserves recognition. Some elected officials have even proposed enacting an additional tax on cannabis to help address some of those environmental issues, which could be a win-win for the cannabis industry and the environmental movement.
Problems with Delivered Pot?
While many Californians laud the measure allowing legal pot delivery, some law enforcement officers still express fears, of course. For example, while cannabis dispensaries must carry additional liability insurance, the way these policies impact delivery drivers remains unclear. The ensuing legal quagmire may prove costly in the long term. What happens, for instance, if a delivery vehicle’s GPS fails, resulting in product getting delivered to the wrong door?
Additionally, some law enforcement officials fear that permitting cannabis delivery will increase the number of black-market drug deals that legalization intended to minimize, since delivery of cannabis could potentially expose youths in the recipient’s home to the plant. While many cannabis activists assert that this herb poses far fewer health risks than raiding mom and dad’s liquor cabinet, opponents of marijuana use often use concerns of exposing young children as talking points for continued prohibition.
Overall, the benefits of permitting cannabis delivery seem to outweigh the consequences of permitting it. Patients requiring medical cannabis shouldn’t be stripped of their right to have it delivered like many other prescriptions, especially for those who suffer physical disabilities that render operating a vehicle difficult.
Inspiring Other States
Several other states have considered measures to legalize the delivery of cannabis, and California’s example may influence other jurisdictions to adopt similar rules. Medical marijuana patients in Oregon can phone local dispensaries for weed delivery as easily as they dial up Chinese takeout, as long as they reside in the same city or service area as the pot provider.
Shockingly, a similar measure to California’s died in the legislature despite the state leading the way in legalizing recreational cannabis use. Other states, such as Arizona, fail to address marijuana delivery specifically in their laws, but nevertheless require all transactions to occur between certified patients and licensed caregivers.
The majority of U.S. states now permit the use of marijuana for medical purposes. To date, 32 states have enacted legislation to allow patients to utilize medical cannabis to treat a host of different ailments. As the legal status of marijuana trends more and more toward full legalization, other political bodies will need to address the question of how to supply patients with their medications via delivery.
The Unknown Future of Medical Cannabis
Due to variations in state statutes and the ongoing status of cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, legislators face ever-increasing pressure to determine what constitutes permissible marijuana use and what creates grounds for arrest. With the increasing public understanding of marijuana’s benefits — both medically and economically — legislators will be forced to figure out answers to these many questions in coming years, which can only be a good thing.
Hopefully, in the near future, Americans will finally gain the freedom to treat their ailments with prescribed pot and even have it delivered to their doorstep. The roadblocks preventing people from getting the medication they need must be lifted if medical marijuana treatment is to be a viable alternative.