California Bans Drone-Delivered Marijuana

Ban on Drone Delivery of Marijuana

The upcoming January 1 deadline has lawmakers in California working hard. They have until then to implement a system of regulation for legal marijuana sales. In its newly released licensing program, the Bureau of Cannabis Control includes some extremely interesting canna-business regulations. The legal cannabis market is about to create thousands of jobs, except perhaps for pot drivers.

Only drivers with commercial licenses will find opportunity in California’s weed market. The new guidelines specifically mandate that “cannabis goods will be required to be transported in commercial vehicles or trailers.” The new laws do not stop there: Nobody will be able to deliver or transport weed via “aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles.”

To be clear, nobody is actually receiving pot via drone in California, at least not just yet. There has been plenty of debate about it, however. There is a strong likelihood that some have tested it already, but for now, it remains a topic of not-too-futuristic opportunity. Companies, such as Eaze, have been creating publicity with the idea of drone-delivered marijuana.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported in January that the government had more than 670,000 registered drones. These figures likely account for only a small fraction of drones in existence today. You can see them flying everywhere, and some even consist of little more than spare parts. Michael Huerta, FAA Chief Administrator, estimates nearly seven million drones will fly about the United States in 2020.

Drones are becoming increasingly more available. They are getting smaller and cheaper to make, which is why they are becoming ever more affordable. Companies are vying with each other to implement the technology into their competitive strategy. Flying robots are already in action. Amazon is now testing its forthcoming Prime Air service, which promises product delivery to customers in half an hour or less.

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Anyone who has ever spent a Saturday waiting for pot delivery in California will know exactly how popular this idea is set to be. Drone delivery is the next business-shaping trend of the future. You will soon get pizza and another takeout by drone. Online customers will receive all their orders by drone. Drones will literally run the delivery model, but not if weed is the product that you want.

According to regulations, “Deliveries may be made only in person, by enclosed motor vehicle. Cannabis goods may not be visible to the public during deliveries. Cannabis goods may not be alone in an unattended motor vehicle unless the vehicle has an active alarm system. Vehicles used for delivery must have a dedicated, active GPS device that enables the dispensary to identify the geographic location of the vehicle during delivery.”

Although the ban on delivering pot by drone may seem unnecessary, many of the other restrictions are important. Allowing delivery by “human-powered vehicle,” such as a bicycle or peddle car, does not promise much safety for the delivery person. A bike rider with a backpack will attract every thief and robber nearby, putting his or her safety at risk every time someone orders weed delivery.

California now provides licensed retailers with exclusive delivery rights. Only those with licenses will be able to conduct weed delivery, and they must deliver all cannabis products to customers by hand. This means that even self-driving cars are not permissible for pot delivery. The law will also require all retailers to install GPS tracking devices into all of their delivery vehicles.

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Over the last several years, the FAA has been relaxing many of its previous restrictions on drone flight. It is now much easier for companies to incorporate the technology into their future business plans. There are even exemptions for those who fly drones within sight of their operators, which was previously a major hindrance to corporations and the main reason why the adoption of drones has taken so long.

The business-friendlier regulations require operators to undergo drone-flying certification before employment. Operators may never exceed drone speeds of 100 miles per hour, and drones may never fly higher than 400 feet from the ground. If other businesses can deliver goods via drone, why is the weed industry unable? Perhaps the strong smell of Granddaddy Purple is too distracting to other pilots.

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Comments (2)

  1. Arike September 14, 2017 / 9:25 am / Reply

    Whats wrong with drone-flying service? Where as this friendlier equipment helping marketers.

  2. hasche September 15, 2017 / 12:24 pm / Reply

    If other businesses can deliver goods via drone, why is the weed industry unable?

    This this burning question for this regulation.

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