Advocates Call On City to Permit Marijuana Delivery-Only Services

The San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance held a news conference prior to Monday’s city council hearing, where new laws were discussed ahead of recreational sales being legalized in 2018.

On the steps of city hall, marijuana advocates with the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance wore green shirts and made a plea to city leaders: “Keep Delivery Legal.” 

The Alliance represents delivery-only services or businesses not affiliated with brick and mortar marijuana dispensaries. Right now, the city of San Diego only allows marijuana delivery services to operate through licensed marijuana storefronts. Seventeen licenses have been approved so far. The rules for these licenses include zoning and security requirements. 

To see a full list of the 17 licenses that have been approved as of September 11, click here

Through an analysis of marijuana advertising platforms, NBC 7 Investigates found there are hundreds of delivery services operating without a license across San Diego County. 

To see the full report, click here.

Elizabeth Wilhelm, President of the San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance told NBC 7 Investigates these services legally operate under state law. 

“By no means has there been 2-300 delivery services running illegally all this time,” Wilhelm said, responding to NBC 7 Investigates’ report. “They’ve been running lawfully under a different set of laws that are now changing and now we’re having the door closed on us, to enter that new market.” 

Wilhelm is referencing California Proposition 215 and SB420, which she said allowed delivery services to operate under state law. Wilhelm and other advocates say the passing of Prop 64 will remove those state protections unless the city passes a licensing structure for delivery-only services. 

Opponents to a license structure for delivery-only services, including some operators of currently licensed dispensaries, argue the system is working as it is now. 

In an email, Phil Rath, the Executive Director of United Medical Marijuana Coalition which represents licensed dispensaries in the city of San Diego, told NBC 7 Investigates, “We believe the city should allow deliveries from safe, regulated dispensaries, and that’s exactly what the law is now. With 17 licensed dispensaries — about half of which currently offer delivery service, with more to begin soon — the demand from San Diego patients can be easily met through legal, permitted services." 

Delivery service supporters said the current set-up creates a monopoly for delivery services ahead of recreational sales being legalized in 2018. 

“That’s going to leave medical marijuana patients behind because those dispensaries are going to cater to high-volume, recreational sales and the patients that need delivery to their door are going to suffer because there is nobody providing that service,” Wilhelm said. 

At Monday’s council meeting, city leaders reaffirmed the city’s position of allowing delivery services only through licensed dispensaries.

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