Cannabis Deliveries: Tops Changes Coming to Colorado & Massachusetts

Written by Luke Ewing and Michael Williamson

Cannabis Delivery Tops Changes Coming to Colorado & Massachusetts

Two additional states with adult-use cannabis markets  will be introducing programs allowing cannabis home deliveries to patients and consumers in 2020.

Colorado, which first allowed adult-use consumption in 2013, and Massachusetts, which introduced a recreational program in 2019, will both allow licensed businesses to deliver cannabis directly to certain consumers beginning next year.

However, the regulations for the delivery programs in each state differ significantly.

Beyond Deliveries

In addition to allowing home deliveries, licensed cannabis businesses in Colorado and Massachusetts will be subject to additional regulatory changes starting in 2020.

For example, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission will start a program in 2020 that may allow interested parties to operate licensed cannabis consumption cafés. The program is currently limited in scope by the Cannabis Control Commission, which restricts it to 12 communities.

However, the commonwealth’s legislature must make statutory changes before licensed cannabis consumption cafes are allowed to legally operate. 

Cannabis Deliveries In Massachusetts

Massachusetts already allows authorized medical marijuana patients to receive cannabis deliveries at their home.

Starting in 2020, social equity and economic empowerment licensees authorized to deliver adult-use (that is, non-medical grade cannabis) may begin legal deliveries to consumer’s homes. Licensees not sanctioned through a state-level social equity or economic empowerment program cannot deliver cannabis to a consumer’s home until 2020, according to regulations passed by the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.

The Cannabis Control Commission expects to process adult-use delivery license applications within a matter of a few months. However, adult-use license delivery applicants will also require local approval before they can commence with deliveries.

Colorado Gets on the Delivery Bandwagon

In the next couple of years, Colorado will implement home delivery, too.

As with the implementation of adult-use cannabis, medical dispensaries will get first play at home delivery. They will be able to apply for a Delivery Permit on January 2, 2020, while Retail Stores, and Transporters (both Med and Rec) will have to wait until the same date in 2021. No other license types will be allowed to conduct home deliveries.

Social Consumption in Colorado

Social consumption will also be authorized for the first time in the state next year, thanks to recent regulatory changes. 

The Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) is allowing for several different kinds of social consumption business models. There will only officially be two license types: 1) Bring your own Cannabis and, 2) Retail Sales and Consumption, but these licenses will be allowed to operate in a number of different businesses.

Consumption licenses can:

  • Operate on a mobile premises– officially legalizing those party busses that have been operating in the grey market for years
  • Function as a cafe of sorts– even without a retail food license, they will be allowed to serve coffee, tea, non-infused pastries, and “other instant hot beverages” 
  • Operate as part of a food retail establishment– certain portions of a restaurant can now be marked off as a consumption area so you can get high while enjoying a meal. The meal cannot be infused with cannabis though.

Mixing alcohol and cannabis, will remain off-limits. A restaurant, and any other consumption area, will be prohibited from serving  alcohol and cannabis under the same roof.

Investment and Employment Changes

After five years of an active adult-use market, Colorado is looking  to make it easier to invest and work in the cannabis industry, o they’ve loosened and streamlined the process through regulations going into effect January 1, 2020. 

The existing restrictions on money from out-of-state, and corporations have been removed. Now, publicly traded companies can invest in the cannabis industry, as can anyone else regardless of whether they are a Colorado resident. The new regulations also only require an investor to get approval if they hold an interest representing 10% or more of the company. Lastly, they reorganized the classifications for interest holders from seven (confusing) classifications to three (slightly less confusing).

In Colorado, if you discharged a felony conviction within five years, or a drug-related felony within 10 years, you were banned from participating in the cannabis industry. The new regulations  will only ban those with felony discharges less than three years old, with no extended period for drug felonies. This is a small step, but it hints at the fact that Colorado is feeling the impact of the nationwide push for social equity in the industry.

Other Colorado Changes

Beginning in 2020, the MED will be implementing “accelerator licenses,” which will allow for a larger actor to provide an incubator for a number of smaller actors who will presumably have fewer regulatory hurdles than traditional licensees. As we’ve mentioned before, these licenses will be tricky to incentivize because the MED is very limited in the types of favors it can offer businesses who choose to incubate smaller actors who could potentially grow to become competitors, so the MED is using extra time to work out the rules for this regime. It will start accepting applications for this program in July of 2020.

In addition to the above changes, Colorado legislators passed bills during the last legislative session that expand the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis and authorized the MED to completely rewrite its regulations when the original rules expire in 2019.

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