San Diego is already on a tear against unauthorized medical marijuana dispensaries. Now officials may be gearing up to go after MMJ delivery services.
The City Council’s Committee on Public Safety has already met once on the issue and will do so again next month. With regulations now in place for dispensaries, officials are looking to clamp down on the essentially unregulated delivery businesses.
Technically, those services are illegal in San Diego. When the city adopted new medical weed regulations in February, it allowed only a limited number of collectives, all of which must obtain permits.
Delivery Is Banned in San Diego
That means San Diego’s current crop of delivery services aren’t covered, said Lynda Pfiefer of the city’s Developmental Services Department. Still, there are currently dozens advertising within city limits.
“If we were made aware of a fixed location within the City of San Diego from which a marijuana mobile/delivery use was being conducted, we would investigate and enforce, as appropriate,” Pfiefer said.
That may not be such an easy task. Although many delivery businesses advertise their location as San Diego, some of those providers are actually based elsewhere. And it’s likely most of the businesses disguise their true locations when posting information online.
A Plan for Delivery in San Diego
The first committee meeting on delivery regulations was held in April. City Council Member Myrtle Cole proposed a plan under which delivery drivers would carry county-issued ID demonstrating “that they are making a delivery from a permitted cooperative storefront.”
Under the proposal, every delivery would have to carry a label with its recipient’s name.
Cole’s plan would amend the city’s public safety ordinance, which covers issues related to medical marijuana. She filed a draft motion that will be considered at the next committee meeting, July 16.
“I can’t speak for the police for how they’re going to treat the people that they stop,” said Tim Taylor, chief policy adviser to City Council Member Marti Emerald. “The idea is that deliveries would have to be made by somebody [from a regulated dispensary] that’s holding a card.”
Regulating Delivery Like Dispensaries
Emerald joined Cole in drafting the motion for next month’s meeting. Taylor said she wants to close the gaps left by the new dispensary regulations.
“A lot of discussion was on edibles and their safety, and concentrates and their safety, and what, if anything, can be done to protect consumers,” Taylor said.
As it stands, delivery services in San Diego are directly addressed only by state MMJ law, which is notoriously vague. In essence, there are few rules, and almost anyone with enough money, good connections, and a car can do it.
That said, delivery is banned by San Diego ordinance, at least according to city officials. Michael Giorgino, spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said the new regulations approach medical cannabis from a land-use perspective: Only with real estate, and government permits that can be attached to that real estate, can collectives do business in the city.
That means delivery services are illegal, unless they operate out of regulated pot shops. So on the one hand, Cole’s proposal might make it easier for a small number of businesses to deliver weed to patients. On the other, it will make it much harder on every other provider – and on the patients whose options will shrink dramatically.