The state may license and allow delivery services, but local municipalities retain the legal right to prohibit them. Numerous cities and counties either ban cannabis delivery outright or restrict delivery to existing storefront cannabis companies. Confusion has mounted in the past four weeks, as the state has begun issuing delivery licenses in a bureaucratic trickle. At the same time, unauthorized—but determined—delivery operators scramble to stay on the road.
To date, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control has issued 73 temporary permits to delivery-only businesses in only 10 of California’s 482 municipalities. Some 143 licensing applications have come in for non-storefront delivery businesses. Those 143 applications represent only a splash in the vast sea of unlicensed mobile services that were operating in California a year ago.
Elizabeth Wilhelm soon headed the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance, arguing for local ordinances and state legislation to authorize delivery companies that operated out of business offices or warehouses—not shimmering retail stores serving walk-in cannabis patients.
But her efforts to convince San Diego to allow delivery-only businesses failed, and Wilhelm shut down her business. Bleak days and hard decisions consumed other unlicensed local delivery services. “I would estimate half of those went into the black market,” Wilhelm told Leafly, “and the rest of them are gone.”
Meanwhile, she watched as a handful of retail dispensaries made big-time expansions to serve the delivery market.
“The dispensaries that are licensed and can do delivery don’t want us in the game,” she said. “They want to create a serious oligarchy to make sure we’re not in the business. I don’t feel I can safely or legally serve patients anymore.”