Updated on September 4, 2020.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
When you drive by your local marijuana dispensary (medical or recreational) in California, you probably see a crowd. Sometimes you may even see a line-up on a day when there is a particular discount or giveaway.
It is hard to avoid the crowds sometimes at dispensaries. You just want to get in, get your weed, and get out. But if you go early in the morning? Chances are you are going to run into caregivers and seniors who prefer that time. If you visit in the early afternoon, you’re going to catch other customers and patients that stopped in at their lunch. And after work can be twice as crowded.
California has legalized home-delivery of both recreational and medicinal marijuana. That’s a good thing, particularly during the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. Before you start looking for a dispensary that delivers, there are a few things you should know.
The Law Allowing California Dispensaries to Deliver Marijuana to Customers at Home
In January 2020, the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California issued new regulations that allowed all licensed marijuana retailers to deliver cannabis. To homes anywhere in the state of California.
The law was a move to trump the regulations and ordinances that some cities in California had passed. Communities that did not want dispensaries in their jurisdiction. And those opposed to home-delivery of cannabis products.
The first iteration of the cannabis home delivery law from the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California was supposed to be a temporary measure. During the Covid-19 health crisis, reducing congregated crowds at dispensaries was a practical measure. Particularly in medical dispensaries, where many patients have immune-compromised conditions.
In December of 2019, the proposed law was written to be a short-term accommodation. California (at the time of writing) leads the nation in Covid-19 infection rates. Texas and the state of Florida followed them. But when the first version of the temporary measure was written, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control received backlash. From communities that were refusing to allow it in their jurisdiction.
Because of the potential health and contagion threat, the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California made the law permanent and sweeping. Every licensed dispensary would be allowed to provide secure home delivery. And then the legal battle started. Since January, one has been going on as communities assert their right to deny medical and recreational marijuana delivery. In opposition to state law.
California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) Approved Final Cannabis Regulations
The Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the DOH in California worked for months to revise 358 pages of cannabis regulations. These proposed changes were submitted to the OAL in December. According to the Associated Press, no changes were made to the rules by the OAL.
Until the OAL’s revised regulations were legalized in January, gray areas of policy made it difficult for cultivators and retailers. Now, Californians aged 21 years can get cannabis delivered to them at home. It protects the millions of California residents who voted “yes” to Proposition 64. They can (and should) access cannabis delivery services no matter where they live in California. And that includes cities that have tried to refuse dispensaries and home deliveries. What the state calls “ban towns.”
Other states that have legalized home delivery. Oregon, Nevada, Massachusetts, and Alaska allow it. But their regulations place the decision to permit at-home deliveries of cannabis within the hands of the municipality or jurisdiction. Cities and towns can decide for themselves if they want to allow it.
California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) felt that blocking cannabis delivery would deprive patients of a much-needed service. Recreational users can go to a dispensary, but at risk during the pandemic. And medical users may or may not have transportation or the ability to visit a dispensary. They may be strictly quarantined right now due to their health conditions.
No-Store Front Dispensaries in California Are Growing to Meet Delivery Demands
Do you need to go to a dispensary to buy weed? In some areas of the United States, dispensaries are using sophisticated vending machines to give patients a virtually touchless experience. Websites have all the information you need to choose your product(s). And if you need help, the dispensary customer service team is a phone call or instant message away.
At the time of writing, there are over 100 no-storefront marijuana dispensaries in California. They are poised to deliver recreational, or medical marijuana for registered patients. Some specialize only in medical marijuana products and services.
Is California going to become the “Amazon of Weed” now that the newly revised regulations have become law? Maybe. When you think of the risks that dispensaries face, it makes sense. Restaurants call this business model a “ghost kitchen” and it is popular in places like NYC, where commercial space is expensive. Browse the website, place your order, wait for delivery.
The “ghost dispensaries” are licensed and subject to the same legal requirements in California. The lean business model may be more successful than the standard retail dispensary. It is more secure. Less staff are required to operate (because there are no storefronts or face-to-face transactions).
Ghost dispensaries don’t need the large commercial spaces that standard cannabis retailers have. They can face less resistance in zoning, as a 100% e-commerce operation. You may pass one on the street and not even know it was there. And some communities may prefer that.
When Can I Schedule Marijuana Delivery in California?
While the statewide law allowing home delivery of weed in California applies to every jurisdiction, there are limits to service hours. For instance, a city or town in California can make delivery available during weekdays only. Or within certain times of the day, i.e., no evening deliveries.
Some cities in California are continuing to dispute weed delivery. However, the California Attorney General has sided with the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the cannabis control bureau. Dispensaries will have the hours of delivery service information available on their website.
Types of Weed Delivery Services in California
There are a few different ways you can get weed delivered to your home. Some California residents like on-demand delivery. For that service, all you have to do is visit a website, purchase, and you can get your weed delivered the same day as takeout delivery. Only you will have to show your driver’s license at the door to confirm you are 21 years of age or older.
All cannabis purchases in California are subject to a 15% excise tax. Here are some of the other convenient ways to get marijuana delivered to your house or apartment in California.
Scheduled Marijuana Delivery
Dispensaries (unlike Amazon) are not legally permitted to leave your box or order on your porch. Good thing, because we know how often Amazon pirates grab those boxes; imagine how quickly your dispensary delivery would be gone. No matter how nice you think, your neighbors are.
Scheduled marijuana delivery works the same way as on-demand. Except that you can schedule a delivery window. Just like getting your groceries delivered at a time when you know you are going to be home.
One of the significant advantages of scheduled marijuana delivery is sales. Many cannabis dispensaries have incentive days, where you can get BOGO or a discount on your order. You can schedule your weed delivery for those days to take advantage of senior’s days, veteran discounts, or regular promos offered by the dispensary. And save money.
Subscription Boxes for Californians Who Want to Try Different Types of Weed
A subscription box is a service where you pay a monthly fee. The dispensary will send you a selection of premium cannabis products, depending on the subscription package you sign up for. What is great about marijuana subscription boxes is the opportunity to have curated weed. You create a profile about what you like (and don’t like), and they use that information to choose exciting strains and products to ship to you monthly.
Some of the advantages of a subscription service include the ability to try different types. You may have your favorite strains or be a fan of anything OG or Diesel, but there are more than 700 strains of cannabis to explore. And if you don’t want to waste time placing an order every month (and you love variety), this is a terrific timesaving option.
You can get whole flowers, extracts, and edibles depending on the subscription you choose. Another advantage of the subscription service is that they will not ship you more than the legal amount monthly. The amounts of cannabis you can possess in California are generous compared to many states. You can purchase up to 1 ounce of cannabis per day (enough for at least 24 cones or joints), or up to 8 grams per day of cannabis concentrates, including candies, brownies, and breakfast bars.
Thanks to thoughtful regulators in California, weed can be safely delivered to you at home. And with subscription services, you can also take advantage of regular weekly discounts. You can save a lot of time and money using California weed delivery services.