Although previous efforts to legalize marijuana delivery in Colorado have been unsuccessful, several state lawmakers believe that the time could be right. House Bill 1234, just introduced by representatives Alex Valdez and Jonathan Singer, proposes rolling out delivery to medical marijuana patients next year, then adding recreational customers in 2021.
“Colorado voters overwhelmingly passed Amendment 64 with the intention of regulating cannabis in a similar fashion to alcohol, and our bill brings the law in line with that,” Singer explains in a statement. “Establishing a cannabis delivery system will provide consumers with a legal way to access cannabis in their homes, curtail illegal delivery services, and open new markets for legal businesses.”
The bill would require the state Marijuana Enforcement Division to create a delivery licensing program for dispensaries and transporters, who could deliver marijuana products to patients after the MED sets up a regulatory system for training requirements, safety provisions, recordkeeping and tracking, as well as limits on amounts and types of deliverable products.
According to the bill's current language, pot delivery drivers would be tracked from when they leave a store until they arrive at the delivery location, where they would have to verify the customer's ID or MMJ card twice. Data about criminal activity, such as reports of robberies and illegitimate sales, would be tracked and made available to law enforcement upon request.
Singer pushed for a similar measure last year, which passed the House. But the bill was eventually amended to restrict delivery to a handful of towns and only MMJ patients, with a re-evaluation slated for three years after passage. Even so, the Colorado State Patrol and several local law enforcement agencies argued against the proposal, and it died in the Senate.
Now, however, proponents of the new bill argue that delivery is necessary for medical patients who cannot leave their homes, and say that criminal activity would actually decrease with delivery.
“Unfortunately, there is already a pervasive illegal market for cannabis delivery that is thriving in our communities,” says Jason Thomas, a former deputy marshal in Holly who pushed for last year's pot delivery bill. “Many people don’t even know that delivery service is illegal, and money is going into the hands of criminals instead of legal businesses."
Allowing delivery would make MMJ more useful for patients, according to Sarah Klein, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado. "People’s ability to access the medicine they need is of critical importance not just to the patients themselves, but also to their families and caretakers," she says. "If a caretaker doesn’t show up or a family member is working, an individual living with epilepsy who cannot drive may not be able to access the medicine they need. This situation is particularly exacerbated for patients living in rural communities where there may not be regular or reliable public transportation. Regulated cannabis delivery would provide a safe, legal solution to these challenges. Not only does this increase accessibility, but patients can also be sure that the medicine they are receiving is safe."
With a bluer Senate and one of the most marijuana-friendly governors in the nation taking the reins in 2019, pot advocates have never been more confident of getting legislation through in Colorado. On March 11, a bill was introduced calling for a marijuana hospitality program that would allow social pot consumption in designated business areas, and the legislature is also considering bills that would expand the state's medical marijuana program.