Colorado Won't Rule Out Curbside Dispensary Options Post-COVID

Customers wait in line at a Terrapin Care Station dispensary before the COVID-19 pandemic began.EXPAND
Customers wait in line at a Terrapin Care Station dispensary before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Ken Hamblin III
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Curbside and to-go ordering options have been allowed at Colorado dispensaries to limit human interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the state hasn't ruled out continuing these new services after stay-at-home and safer-at-home orders are lifted.

Paying for dispensary orders online, as well as picking up orders outside of the dispensary's point-of-sale space (but still on the property) were both outlawed in Colorado before executive orders from Governor Jared Polis in response to COVID-19. However, with Colorado's stay-at-home order expired and the safer-at-home order only temporary, dispensary workers and customers alike wonder if the new purchasing options will live past the pandemic.

"I'd like to see the curbside option stay around after this, even with more restrictions in place," Hannah Munsterman, general manager of the Clinic's dispensary in the Highland neighborhood, said before the 4/20 rush on April 20. "That way, we still have limited exposure with people coming in the store."

While the governor's office has declined to comment on any possible extensions, the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, which is responsible for implementing Polis's executive orders respective to the pot industry, was willing to discuss the possibility...and the door might be open to at least one option.

According to MED communication director Shannon Gray, the MED couldn't allow long-term online ordering from dispensaries unless there is a statutory change or Polis makes another executive order, but the department is currently looking into whether curbside ordering can remain without a regulatory update.

"We understand our stakeholders' interest in maintaining a range of options they can utilize to serve their customers consistent with social-distancing guidelines. On that front, we are currently evaluating which rule provisions we have the ability to implement on a longer-term basis," Gray explains. "Absent those changes, licensees should keep in mind the 120-day timeline that applies to the emergency rules."

Gray adds that the MED is using this period to "reflect on what worked well and what didn't," and considering new information gained through these efforts "to streamline our operations and in future rulemaking efforts where applicable." And while she points out that the MED's bandwidth has been hampered by the pandemic, with a smaller staff than usual working from home, those same circumstances have also shown industry regulators how useful technology can be for retail pot.

"This past month required a quick shift to remote work options and heavier reliance on technology, and we anticipate this experience will lead to more conversations about how we can better leverage technology to serve our customers," Gray acknowledges.

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