CA Bans MMJ Delivery by Drone

New Delivery Regulations for CA

Last week, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control released a new set of regulations for how cannabis deliveries are made, including for commercial companies, throughout the state.

This very long document, which you can find here, states that in order to deliver cannabis, unmanned vehicles cannot be used and special protections must be made.

The Bureau of Cannabis Control ruled that deliveries must “be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle,” ARS Technica reported, noting that “unmanned vehicles” such as self-driving cars also are likely to be banned.

“Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” is how it is worded in the regulations. This means bicycles, motorcycles, pontoon boats, windsurfing, and paper airplanes are definitely out.

And it definitely bans drones. Several tech startups, such as Eaze, MDelivers, and Trees Delivery had all been hoping to utilize and perfect drone delivery for legalized cannabis.

Drones may have been a farfetched delivery option anyway since federal aviation rules require that aerial drones fly within a pilot’s sight.

Drones are considered one of many types of “unmanned aircraft system” by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which is the division of the Department of Transportation that inspects and rates civilian aircraft and pilots, enforces all the rules of air safety, and installs and maintains air-navigation and traffic-control facilities.

An unmanned aircraft is defined by the FAA as “an aircraft that is operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft (Public Law 112-95, Section 331(8)).”

And Congress has defined a “model aircraft” as a UAS that meets all of the following:

  • Is capable of sustained flight in the atmosphere
  • Is flown within visual line-of-sight of the person operating it
  • Is flown for hobby or recreational purposes

This definitely includes drones, so potential deliveries outside sight range by drones may never have been a viable option for the marijuana sector.

How Can it Be Delivered?

Legal cannabis delivery can’t just be made by your local teenager in their mom’s Honda. As the new regulations state, deliveries must be made with enclosed automobiles that have GPS locators which the store can use to track its location, and inventory can’t be left unattended in motor vehicles unless the vehicle has an active alarm system.

This means that you likely need at least two people on deliveries, you’ll have to install or activate GPS tracking on your vehicle and make sure to install and use the alarm system. What does this mean for delivery trucks for large-scale quantities?

Though you can order other medications through the mail, marijuana is currently not allowed to be delivered through the mail, either.

Drones may be the least of the issues. These new rules are so specific that a convertible car would not be able to make deliveries, and in many cities, bicycles and moped drivers make document and food deliveries faster than a car would be able to.

Cannabis Cash

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and is one of the fastest-growing sectors in our economy, these growing pains are going to continue to happen.

Cannabis is a cash-only world right now, with banks, credit unions, and more refusing loans. While it is a growing and profitable industry, large companies are not willing to invest in what is still an illegal product in much of the country.

Some are taking advantage of this, creating new cryptocurrencies within the cannabis industry to compete with bitcoin.

Forbes did a recent story on Paragon, a company launching yet another new cryptocurrency called ParagonCoin, and reported, “Blockchain and cannabis industry watchers believe that cryptocurrencies could be a game changer for the marijuana sector. In recent years, a number of weed coins have proliferated, including HempCoin, CannabisCoin, DopeCoin, and PotCoin, each taking a slightly different approach to solving the cash dilemma. “Once, virtual currencies and weed belonged together on the dark web,” said Lionel Laurent in a recent Bloomberg Businessweek article, “Now, they’re being pitched as asset classes on track for mega-growth.””

Whatever happens next, the cannabis industry in the U.S. is continuing its booming growth, which means that regulations, innovations, and more have to keep up or will become obsolete.

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