Aurora’s nearly 400,000 residents — at least the ones 21 or older — may be able to tap on a phone screen and order up pot gummies and marijuana flower for delivery to their doorstep as soon as early next year.
The Aurora City Council on Monday night gave preliminary approval, by an 8-2 vote, to cannabis delivery in Colorado’s third-largest city. The ordinance will need a second vote in two weeks, and if it passes, deliveries of marijuana could begin in early 2021.
That would likely make Aurora one of the first cities in the state where consumers can place an order for recreational weed from their couch and wait for it to arrive in the comfort of their homes.
“Delivery is needed particularly because of the pandemic,” said Aurora Councilwoman Alison Coombs, who supported the measure. “Folks are having to stay safely in their homes.”
This week is shaping up to be a big one for cannabis delivery in Colorado. Aside from Aurora’s move Monday night, Denver’s Division of Excise and Licenses earlier in the day unveiled plans to allow marijuana delivery within city limits for the first time. It’s not known when Denver City Council will take action on the proposal, though the city hopes to begin issuing licenses by July 1 next year.
Delivery of medical marijuana became available in three Colorado communities — Longmont, Superior and Boulder — in 2020, the first year that such door-to-door service was allowed under a bill passed by state lawmakers last year. Recreational delivery was not permitted to start until 2021, despite calls earlier this year to make it more widely available during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said recreational pot remains the only product from the list of coronavirus pandemic “essential businesses” that can’t legally be delivered.
“I would like to get my cannabis delivered just like I get everything else delivered,” Bradley said.
Aurora’s pot delivery ordinance also includes a “social equity” stipulation designed to aid those who have historically been targeted or hurt in the nation’s long-running war on drugs. It reserves licenses for the first three years the program is in effect exclusively for “transporters” — or those who deliver marijuana — who qualify under the state’s social equity definitions.
Colorado defines a social equity applicant as someone who has been arrested or convicted of a marijuana offense, suffered asset forfeiture due to a cannabis-related investigation or who has lived in an economic opportunity zone for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010, among other qualifications.
Bradley said the approach should give people of color an avenue to participate in an industry that hasn’t always been as open as it should.
“We are supportive of using social equity to increase diversity and inclusion in the cannabis market,” he said. “We want to remove these barriers to working in the business.”
The social equity requirement would only apply to third-party transporters and not to Aurora’s 24 marijuana dispensaries, which are free to set up their own delivery system if they choose.
Monday’s measure would allow the city’s retail marijuana stores to deliver cannabis products to customers between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Aside from serving customers inside Aurora, dispensaries could deliver outside the city so long as those neighboring communities permitted those deliveries.
There would also be an opportunity, under the ordinance, for dispensaries outside of Aurora to deliver product inside the city. That possibility was opposed by several dispensary owners who spoke virtually to the City Council on Monday.
They said allowing large, well-capitalized cannabis businesses from outside Aurora to deliver inside the city would put Aurora’s brick-and-mortar dispensaries in jeopardy.
Under the measure, orders would be limited to no more than 1 ounce of marijuana, no more than 8 grams of marijuana concentrate and no more than 80 milligrams of THC in a marijuana product, typically edibles.
Councilman Dave Gruber, who voted against the measure, brought up concerns about the likelihood of those with criminal records and histories of drug violations ferrying pot across the city. Robin Peterson, marijuana enforcement manager for Aurora, said the state rules for transporters are comprehensive.
“There are very strict rules on how you take these orders and deliver these orders,” she said.
State rules for marijuana delivery mandate that transporters employ a GPS system to track the delivery vehicle’s every stop and turn, use a dashcam to record transactions and a camera trained on the product, keep marijuana in a “secure, locked, opaque storage compartment that is securely affixed to the delivery motor vehicle,” and install a security alarm system.
Each order must record the date of birth of the customer and the address to which the delivery is made.
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