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As stylish and welcoming as many dispensaries try to be, there is huge demand from consumers for cannabis delivery that’s as easy, fast and reliable as their favorite neighborhood restaurant. Rising revenues from both the medical and recreational markets get most of the attention, but the delivery sub-market is the highest, fastest-growing stream, generating a slew of legal delivery service operators with the licensing, security and insurance requirements that cannabis businesses must follow.

Currently, 12 states allow delivery of medical cannabis, which is more important than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are Arizona, California, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, New Jersey, North Dakota and Oregon. Six states allow recreational cannabis delivery in some form: California, Maine and Massachusetts without restriction, Michigan and Nevada under emergency rules, and Oregon with limited services based on local laws.

Ground zero for the most proactive delivery services has been California, where there are hundreds of operators located throughout the state. Residents can choose from companies that will deliver in minutes from a limited selection, much like ordering a pizza. Companies that schedule deliveries same-day, next-day or recurring, much like Amazon. And companies that work on a subscription or membership model, delivering specially curated boxes or member-only pricing. Services can be accessed by phone, online, or with a mobile app.

Currently, Colorado has come on board and as of January is accepting applications from dispensaries and third-party operators for recreational delivery services. Despite the state’s reputation for progressive attitudes toward cannabis, and it’s many dispensaries, delivery had not been a priority for either lawmakers or recreational users; it was pressure from medical cannabis advocates on behalf of homebound patients that convinced the legislature to act. A one-year pilot program for medical deliveries was successfully completed in 2020.

Most states with delivery programs have common restrictions. Hours are limited, and no state allows 24-hour deliveries. Deliveries are generally made to homes; some states allow hotels and/or offices, and no states permit deliveries to outside locations such as a city park. And all states have varied rules as to how much product can be delivered; typically medical cannabis patients have higher allowances than recreational-use customers.