It took nearly two years to chart the path, but recreational marijuana delivery is about to start in Colorado. The apps are ready to launch, cars are filled with gas, and permits are being issued — at least five so far, according to the state Marijuana Enforcement Division.
Several dispensaries in Aurora, currently the only Colorado town that has recreational marijuana dispensaries and also allows recreational delivery, are racing to get their drivers on the road as soon as their permits are approved by the MED and the City of Aurora. The Green Solution, Medicine Man, Lightshade, Colorado Harvest Company and Rocky Road have all submitted applications, and a few have already been approved, according to the MED and Aurora regulators, with a couple of stores close to launching the service.
Colorado Harvest Company, the first dispensary to receive a delivery permit from the MED and the only one to be approved by Aurora so far, held a soft launch today, March 16, and plans to expand the delivery option on a wide scale by March 22, according to CEO Tim Cullen.
"They will be at your door within sixty minutes of placing your order," Cullen says of his new fleet of Toyota Prius delivery vehicles.
The Green Solution and Medicine Man are expected to get on the road soon after, and Rocky Road and Lightshade have been in talks with Aurora about future applications, according to Aurora Marijuana Enforcement Division manager Robin Peterson.
The Green Solution and Lightshade both have multiple locations in Aurora, and delivery permits can apply to multiple stores as long as they operate within the same jurisdiction. Lightshade is still waiting for state approval and will be "ready to go with the delivery as soon as their license is approved," according to a company spokeswoman, while the Green Solution is a little further along after years of opposing the idea of retail pot delivery at state and local levels.
In a statement sent to Westword, the Green Solution reiterates that opposition and warns of higher prices.
"The Green Solution’s opposition to delivery is well-documented with the Legislature and the City of Aurora," it reads. "We don’t believe that it is a sustainable business model for stores, but understand it has been associated with creating opportunities for social equity applicants and are adjusting our operations to include those candidates in our delivery operations. We believe that both businesses and consumers will be surprised by the additional costs of delivery in an industry operating on very narrow margins, due to high levels of taxes. However, for those willing to bear the increased costs, we want to ensure that our customers have the best access possible opportunity to our award-winning lineup of products."
In contrast, Colorado Harvest's Cullen and Lightshade reps are excited about the possibilities of this new service, as are business owners who hope to focus exclusively on delivery. Although Aurora is the only municipality with dispensaries to have opted into recreational pot delivery so far, cities that have yet to approve the service are already seeing applicants, in hopes of getting a head start.
A Golden entity was awarded a permit in early March even though that town doesn't allow recreational sales or delivery; that permit application was a test, and is no longer listed by the MED. But another application was approved in Denver, and this one is real: Rolla, the consumer-facing brand of business-to-business marijuana transporter Sharpe Solutions, has received Denver's first recreational delivery license — even though Denver City Council hasn't approved delivery yet, and probably won't implement a delivery program until July at the earliest.
A council committee is discussing provisions for Denver's delivery regulations, with the proposed rules mandating that any delivery license holder qualify under a state social equity definition intended to benefit victims of the drug war for the first six years of the program; Aurora's rules require applicants to qualify under that definition until 2024, unless the applicant is an existing dispensary. Although Sharpe Solutions wouldn't qualify under the social equity definition in either city, it could partner with social equity delivery companies while providing logistical and technical operations, according to Rolla chief operations officer Colton Keluche.
"Aurora will kind of be our testing ground. With the technical experience we bring in, it's really about working with customer service and communication," Keluche says. "Denver, when it comes online in July, we 100 percent have the intention of operating within that space, as well."
As for the Green Solution warning about higher prices, Keluche acknowledges that delivery will come at a premium — but so does anything else that's delivered to your doorstep, he notes.
"That will depend on the delivery company. ... We aim to keep it close to what you'll pay in person," he says. "This is also opening the door to new consumers and people who don't want to be seen in dispensaries. You're not going to scare them away with high surcharges if all they want to do is try cannabis."
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