Marijuana

Lawmaker Wants to Change New Marijuana Delivery Program

An employee for Cookies dispensary in Denver reviews the store's inventory.
An employee for Cookies dispensary in Denver reviews the store's inventory. Jacqueline Collins
Less than a year after the program began in full, a legislator wants to change the law that made marijuana delivery legal in Colorado.

Introduced March 3 by Representative Marc Snyder, a Democrat from El Paso County, House Bill 1159 proposes several new qualifications for the state's delivery program if dispensaries want to begin mobile transactions, including a minimum number of days and hours of in-store operation.

Attempts to tweak the delivery program had been expected this session, even though the Colorado Legislature just legalized delivery in 2019. That bill allowed for medical marijuana in 2020, with recreational coming online in 2021 — and in all cases, municipalities have to opt into allowing the service. So far, only two towns, Superior and Aurora, have opted into recreational delivery, while Longmont and Boulder both allow medical delivery only.

From the start, there has been resistance to the delivery framework created by the law, with detractors worried that Amazon-like warehouses could take advantage of the language requiring that any marijuana delivery permit also have a dispensary sales license — without specifying if that license must be connected to an active, operating storefront. Snyder's bill proposes that any dispensary with a delivery permit must be open at least five days a week for five hours a day, and would limit delivery sales to products that are also available at the physical store, available at the same price.

The bill would also prohibit dispensaries from allowing customers to hold pre-paid accounts, a popular form of cashless payment in the marijuana industry, and waive an application fee for social equity applicants trying to obtain a transporter license, a business-to-business form of wholesale marijuana delivery.

Snyder's bill doesn't have any current co-sponsors, and he's likely to have some powerful industry opponents at Vicente Sederberg, the marijuana law firm that helped draft the original delivery bill, as well as state rep Alex Valdez, who introduced it in 2019.

"It would be disappointing to have to revisit this stuff, and I think that's especially unfortunate given that we're currently in a pandemic," Valdez says.

According to Valdez, there were extensive stakeholder meetings to consider his proposal before it passed both the House and Senate in 2019; he calls additions to the current delivery permit requirements "protectionist" and "overburdensome."

Although delivery has become popular in other states — including Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Oregon — some members of the marijuana industry remain lukewarm or are downright chilly regarding the service.

Only seven medical marijuana delivery permits have been approved by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division since the MMJ program began in 2020, with two recreational delivery permits approved so far in 2021.
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Thomas Mitchell has written about all things cannabis for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate and general news along the way for publications such as the Arizona Republic, Inman and Fox Sports. He's currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.
Contact: Thomas Mitchell