Cannabis store finds a way to deliver where delivery’s not exactly legal

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January
16,
2020



 
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cannabis delivery services

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Cannabis
delivery
services
are
popular,
but
questions
remain
about
their
legality
in
many
adult-use
cannabis
states.

For
example,
in
California,
where
specific
delivery
license
frameworks
are
in
place,
cannabis
delivery
is
legal
and
widely
used.
Eaze,
a
San
Francisco-based
cannabis
delivery
app,

reports

that
consumers
order
cannabis
every
ten
seconds
via
their
app.

In
Washington
state,
though,
cannabis
delivery
has
never
been
made
explicitly
legal.
There
is
no
state
license
available
to
deliver
a
gram
of
flower
and
a
vape
cartridge.
But
that
hasn’t
stopped
risk-taking
entrepreneurs
from
serving
the
public
demand.

Washington
business
tests
the
limits

Back
in
2014,

The
Stranger,
 an
alt
weekly
in
Seattle,
Washington,
turned
the
spotlight
on

Winterlife
,
one
of
a
number
of
semi-clandestine
delivery
services
operating
in
the
murky
legal
space
that
opened
up
after
voters
approved
Initiative
502.
By
early
2016,
Seattle
officials
estimated
there
were
about

30
illicit
cannabis
delivery
businesses

operating
in
the
city.
Later
that
year
Seattle
Police
created

a
sting
operation

and
arrested
a
handful
of
delivery
drivers
in
an
effort
to
curb
the
practice.

Now
delivery
has
returned
to
the
Evergreen
State
in
a
very
public
way.
In
late
December,
billboards
appeared
along
highways
in
south
Puget
Sound
advertising
Pelican,
a
new
cannabis
delivery
service.

So,
is
delivery
now
legal
in
Washington?
Maybe,
and
maybe
not.
According
to
Brian
Smith,
Communications
Director
for
the
Washington
State
Liquor
and
Cannabis
Board
(LCB),
state
law
“doesn’t
prohibit
[cannabis
delivery],
but
it
doesn’t
allow
it
either.”

Last
week
Leafly
tracked
down
Dave
and
Tina
Comeau,
who
founded
Pelican
Delivers
in
Sept.
2019,
and
asked
how
they’re
operating
so
openly—and
how
they
believe
it’s
legal.
The
Comeaus
own
two
state-licensed
Better
Buds
dispensary
locations
in
Port
Hadlock
and
Silverdale.
They
have
plans
to
open
a
third
store
soon
in
Longview,
near
the
Oregon
border.
They
say
they
decided
to
open
a
delivery
service
because
so
many
of
their
customers
have
been
asking
for
it—and
because
they
believe
they’ve
discovered
a
way
to
do
it
legally.

“We
thought
about
it—we
know
there
is
no
legal
framework
for
delivery
[in
Washington],
so
we
looked
at
the
laws
and
came
up
with
a
solution
for
delivery
that
works
with
the
current
Washington
state
laws
and
rules,”
Dave
Comeau
told
Leafly.

The
revised
cannabis
delivery
statute

Commercial
cannabis
delivery
is
not
specifically
allowed
in
Washington,
but
cannabis
delivery
itself
isn’t
outright
prohibited.
In
2017,
Gov.
Jay
Inslee
signed
SB
5131
into
law,
which
allows
friends
to
share
or
gift
cannabis
to
one
another
in
select
amounts.
The
pertinent
passage
in
the
law
reads:

“The
delivery
by
a
person
twenty-one
years
of
age
or
older
to
one
or
more
persons
twenty-one
years
of
age
or
older,
during
a
single
twenty-four-hour
period,
for
noncommercial
purposes
and
not
conditioned
upon
or
done
in
connection
with
the
provision
or
receipt
of
financial
consideration,
of
any
of
the
following
marijuana
products,
is
not
a
violation
of
this
section,
this
chapter,
or
any
other
provisions
of
Washington
state
law.”

One
adult
may
deliver
a
gift
amount
of
cannabis,
for
non-commercial
purposes,
to
another
adult—as
long
as
it
is
less
than
“i)
One
half-ounce
of
useable
marijuana;
(ii)
Eight
ounces
of
marijuana-infused
product
in
solid
form;
(iii)
Thirty-six
ounces
of
marijuana-infused
product
in
liquid
form;
or
(iv)
Three
and
one-half
grams
of
marijuana
concentrates,”
according
to
the
statute.

The
law
was
meant
to
allow
friends
to
share
a
joint,
essentially—or
to
help
out
a
buddy
with
a
spare
gram
or
two.
In
fact,
Leafly’s
Ben
Adlin
looked
into
the
question
of
friend-gifting
and
friend-delivery
last
year
(see

Buyer
beware:
Is
it
legal
to
pick
up
cannabis
for
a
friend?
).
Smith
told
Adlin
that
picking
up
a
eighth
for
a
friend
while
you’re
making
a
run
to
the
local
cannabis
store
wasn’t
exactly
legal.

“As
innocuous
as
this
scenario
sounds,
if
it
were
allowed
there’d
be
no
way
to
prevent
unlawful
delivery
services,”
Smith
said.
“It
would
also
complicate
prosecution
of
unlawful
possession
with
intent
to
deliver.”

The
legal
loophole

Would
somebody
actually
be
arrested
and
tried
for
picking
up
an
eighth
for
a
friend?
“I
doubt
somebody
would
be
prosecuted
with
the
felony,”
Smith
replied.
“That
said,
it
would
depend
on
the
jurisdiction
as
well
as
the
facts
and
circumstances
surrounding
the
exchange.”

The
Comeaus,
it
appears,
have
decided
to
challenge
the
legal
limits
of
the
friend-gifting
dynamic.

Dave
Comeau
told
Leafly
last
week
that
Pelican
Delivers
remains
compliant
with
state
law
because
they
use
contracted,
third-party
delivery
drivers
who
are
paid
to
use
the
app,
not
to
deliver
cannabis.
That,
he
said,
qualifies
as
a
“non-commercial”
purpose.

“The
customers
can
only
order
half
the
legal
limit.
There’s
a
gifting
rule
where
I
can
actually
give
you
half
the
legal
limit
of
product
without
it
being
a
misdemeanor
or
felony
or
anything
like
that,”
he
said.

The
Comeaus
assert
that
their
app
meets
all
other
state
compliance
requirements.
The
app
maintains
the
ability
to
trace
every
cannabis
purchase,
verifies
the
ID
of
the
consumer
at
the
beginning
and
the
end
of
the
transaction,
only
permits
sales
below
legal
purchase
amounts,
and
uses
GPS
tracking
to
keep
drivers
within
state
lines.

“We
want
to
be
really
compliant,”
said
Tina
Comeau.
“We
want
to
make
sure
minors
aren’t
getting
product.
We
want
to
make
sure
we’re
doing
this
as
legal
as
we
possibly
can.”

Pelican
Delivers’
app

Here’s
how
Pelican
Delivers
works.
The
customer
downloads
the
Pelican
app,
signs
up
with
their
name
and
delivery
location,
and
uses
the
customer-facing
portal
to
scan
their
ID.
Third-party
ID
verification
software
then
confirms
they
possess
an
actual
state-licensed
ID
and
are
of
legal
age
to
purchase
cannabis.

From
there,
the
consumer
can
search
for
and
select
products
from
state-licensed
dispensaries
in
their
area,
add
them
to
a
cart,
and
enter
their
bank
information
for
bank-to-bank
transfer
of
funds
once
they’re
ready
to
purchase—that
is,
funds
from
the
consumer’s
bank
to
the
dispensary’s.
They
also
offer
credit
card
processing.

Once
the
consumer
has
checked
out,
the
app
searches
for
a
driver
in
the
area,
much
like
when
you
order
an
Uber
or
Lyft.
From
there,
a
driver
accepts
the
order,
receives
the
order
details,
and
is
routed
to
the
retail
location
to
pick
up
the
order.

When
the
driver
gets
to
the
store,
the
dispensary
scans
the
products
through
their
POS
system
to
meet
state
traceability
requirements,
and
the
consumer’s
state
ID
is
checked
yet
again.
A
pick-up
button
also
appears
in
the
driver’s
app
portal
once
inside,
and
once
clicked,
the
driver
has
officially
“purchased”
the
delivery
by
releasing
the
consumer’s
funds
to
the
retail
location
via
bank-to-bank
transfer.

“The
button
is
ring-fenced
and
only
shows
up
if
the
[driver] is
in
the
store,”
said
Comeau.
This
is
important:
The
only
legal
cannabis
transactions
under
Washington
state
law
are
those
done
inside
a
dispensary.

When
the
funds
are
released,
the
driver
also
receives
the
information
about
where
to
deliver
the
order,
and
the
driver
heads
to
the
customer’s
address.
At
the
customer’s
door,
the
driver
scans
the
customer’s
ID
yet
again,
and
hands
them
their
cannabis—still
sealed
in
its
packaging.
The
driver
then
checks
the
order
off
as
complete
in
the
app,
and
is
paid
instantly.
(As
for
tipping
drivers,
that
can
also
be
done
through
the
app
at
the
time
of
check-out
or
with
cash
at
the
time
of
delivery.)

“The
driver’s
keep
100%
of
their
tips
and
they
also
get
to
keep
80%
of
the
[delivery] fee,”
said
Tina
Comeau.

Can
you
patent
it?

The
Comeaus
believe
that
the
patent
on
their
cannabis
delivery
software—the
first
of
its
kind—also
has
legitimizing
force.
And,
to
some
extent,
it
does—especially
when
it
comes
to
attracting
potential
investors.
“We
do
have
an
issued
cannabis
delivery
patent
for
the
methods
and
process
of
how
to
do
cannabis
delivery
in
a
highly
regulated
market,”
said
Dave
Comeau.

Obtaining
a
patent
for
an
app
doesn’t
necessarily
mean
the
product
is
legal,
though.
Brian
Galvin,
the
Comeaus’
patent
agent,
made
it
clear
that
the
patent
doesn’t
give
them
immunity
from
prosecution.

“I’m
not
an
attorney,
I’m
a
patent
agent,”
said
Galvin.
“I
am
not
advising
them
on
regulatory
issues.
When
it
comes
to
patents,
there’s
no
requirement
that
the
invention
or
the
use
of
it
be
legal.”

Here’s
another
complicating
factor.
Because
there’s
no
official
license
for
consumer
cannabis
delivery,
delivery
companies
like
Pelican
Delivers
don’t
fall
within
the
jurisdiction
of
the
Liquor
and
Cannabis
Board.
The
LCB’s
power
over
cannabis
companies
comes
from
its
licensing
authority.
Break
a
rule,
and
the
LCB
can
suspend
or
revoke
your
license.
But
where
there’s
no
license,
the
LCB
doesn’t
have
law
enforcement
power—the
agency
can
only
refer
cases
to
police
agencies.

Of
course,
this
all
may
be
moot
in
a
few
months.
According
to
Smith,
the
regulatory
agency
is
working
with
Gov.
Jay
Inslee’s
office
to
craft
a
bill
that
would
allow
licensed
producers/processors
to
deliver
medical
marijuana
to
medical
patients.
It’s
unclear
whether
such
a
bill
would
be
limited
to
medical
patients
or
cover
all
retail
cannabis
transactions.

For
now,
the
Comeaus
are
continuing
to
operate
and
expand.
They
say
the
delivery
service
is
quite
popular,
particularly
among
parents
who’d
rather
pay
the
delivery
fee
than
pay
for
childcare,
and
they
have
plans
to
expand
it
to
other
medical
and
adult-use
cannabis
states.
They’re
also
developing
more
software
for
the
app
at
the
moment,
including
programs
that
will
allow
dispensaries
to
interact
with
customers
via
text
and
email.



 
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Alexa Peters's Bio Image

Alexa
Peters

Alexa
Peters
is
a
freelance
writer
who
covers
music,
writing,
travel,
feminism,
and
self-help.
Her
work
has
appeared
in
the
Washington
Post,
Paste,
the
Seattle
Times,
Seattle
Magazine,
and
Amy
Poehler’s
Smart
Girls.

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