Patients could get medical marijuana delivered to their door

The state is considering options for a pot-delivery system that can be monitored.

OLYMPIA — Washington is looking at allowing medical marijuana patients to place an order and get cannabis delivered to their home.

The state Liquor and Cannabis Board is conducting a study on how to set up and operate a delivery system with an eye to ensuring pot doesn’t wind up in the wrong hands.

Lawmakers requested the analysis in the supplemental state budget approved last month. They want a report with recommendations by Dec. 1.

“It is a way to eliminate one of the barriers between people who need this for their medical condition and their ability to get it,” said Rep. Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, who had authored a separate bill for a study.

Ever since Washington voters legalized marijuana in 2012, people have been asking for home delivery, said Brian Smith, a spokesman for the Liquor and Cannabis Board.

It’s not garnered a lot of attention as the state grew its recreational marijuana industry then merged it with the previously unregulated medical marijuana market. Rather, the focal point has been making sure the growing, processing and sale of cannabis is carried out in line with federal guidelines aimed at curbing diversion of product into the black market and away from juveniles.

Home delivery brings a new set of challenges, Smith said.

“It is very difficult to monitor a transaction at someone’s home as compared to a licensed business that we have access to,” he said.

Lawmakers want the agency to study how to develop and implement a system of delivering medical marijuana to qualified patients from properly licensed retailers.

Today, there are 290 retailers in Washington with a state-issued endorsement to sell medical marijuana products. There are about 18,000 active patients, according to the state Department of Health.

Among issues the study must consider are how to verify those receiving the product are registered in the state’s medical marijuana authorization database and what payment methods would be allowed.

With many transactions conducted with cash, the study must look at how to ensure “safe and secure” transporting of products, including delivery vehicle requirements, and how deliveries by retailers operating out of Indian country will be handled.

The Liquor and Cannabis Board is to consult with the health department, industry representatives, law enforcement and local government officials on the report. A public hearing will likely be held to garner input from patients and other interested parties, Smith said.

Kristi Weeks, director of government relations for the Department of Health, said the agency does not oppose a delivery system but “are concerned about diversion to nonpatients or youth.”

“We would want to make certain it is very secured so the product is going only to authorized patients,” she said. “There are ways to ensure to a greater degree that it is going to only the appropriate persons.”

Two cannabis industry groups see the benefit for medical patients. But representatives said they want to be sure those making deliveries are protected from harm and, like the state, don’t want product diverted to non-patients or those under the age of 21.

“We do have a lot of questions,” said Aaron Pickus, spokesperson for the Washington CannaBusiness Association. “Studying this in a thoughtful way is a good next step.”

Lara Kaminsky, executive director of The Cannabis Alliance, said in an email the group is concerned with limited patient access in rural regions with bans or moratoriums in place. There also are patients who may live near a store but because of their mobility challenges cannot easily get there, she noted.

“We would like to see those that have turned to cannabis as a last resort, or who use it in lieu of dangerous opiates, have access to the medicine that helps them,” she wrote.

She also said providing deliveries must be economically viable so that “whomever is granted the ability to provide this service can make it a profitable endeavor” otherwise the program will fail.

Owners of retail stores reached by The Daily Herald said they support home delivery for their patients. Some also are concerned the Liquor and Cannabis Board lacks personnel to adequately enforce existing regulations and would be unable to properly monitor a new home delivery system.

Home delivery is legal in Oregon, California and Nevada.

Oregon, which was the first state to do so, allows a marijuana retailer to make deliveries to any person 21 years and older in their residence, regardless if it is for medical or recreational use. The law defines residence as “a dwelling such as a house or apartment but does not include a dormitory, hotel, motel, bed and breakfast or similar commercial business.”

Though California allows home delivery services, state law also permits local governments to ban them within their jurisdiction if they choose.

In Washington. Kloba started the conversation in January when she put forth a bill on the subject.

But the timing wasn’t great as days earlier U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was rescinding directives from the Obama Administration that had discouraged enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that had made cannabis legal to grow and sell.

“It threw a big chill into the whole industry and it made our Liquor and Cannabis Board a little more cautious,” Kloba said.

They weren’t opposed, she recalled, but agency officials told her they needed time to figure out how to set it up. Hence the study.

“I felt that was reasonable,” Kloba said. “I do think we will get to a point in the 2019 session that we will bring forward a bill the LCB is comfortable with. Whether my colleagues are comfortable with it is another thing.”

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An emergency responder uses a line to navigate the steep slope along a Forest Service road where seven people were injured Saturday when a vehicle went off the road near the Boulder River trailhead west of Darrington. (Darrington Fire District)
7 hurt in crash off cliff west of Darrington; 1 airlfited

A vehicle crashed on a forest service road near Boulder River, leading to a major rescue operation.

The aftermath of a fire that damaged a unit at the Villas at Lakewood apartment complex in Marysville on Saturday. (Marysville Fire District)
2 families displaced by Marysville apartment fire

Nobody was injured when the fire broke out Saturday morning on 27th Avenue NE.

Kevin Gallagher (from the Snohomish County Official Local Voters’ Pamphlet November 2, 2021 General Election)
Kevin Gallagher, a Marysville City Council candidate, dies

Kevin Gallagher, 52, died at home of natural causes. He was challenging incumbent Councilmember Tom King.

Downtown Coupeville on Whidbey Island, March 2021. (Harry Anderson)
Whidbey Island real estate prices continue to climb

Despite a slight lull in August and September, it continues to be a seller’s market on Whidbey.

Gold Bar man airlifted after trying to start fire with gas

The man suffered severe burns after he used gasoline to start a fire in his yard.

Another housing unit at Monroe prison targeted for closure

A corrections leader says 502 workers could lose their jobs if they aren’t vaccinated against COVID by Monday.

Mill Creek Police at the scene of a fatal car accident on Friday, Oct. 15, 2021. (Mill Creek Police)
Police investigating Mill Creek collision where man died

A stretch of 35th Ave SE was expected to be closed for a few hours Friday night.

Everett firefighter who got cancer settles for $1.2M

It marks the end of a decade-long saga that started when Michael Weaver was diagnosed with melanoma in 2011.

Police say a woman had a concealed handgun in her possession as she was being booked on a DUI charge at the Snohomish County Jail on Wednesday. (Snohomish County Sheriff's Office)
Police: Woman had gun in her abdomen when booked into jail

The loaded Colt .25-caliber semiautomatic handgun was found in the folds of her flesh at the Snohomish County Jail.

Most Read