Uber For Pot: Marijuana Home Delivery May Be Legal In Washington Soon — And There’s An App For That
Buying legal pot may soon be as quick and simple as ordering an Uber, with the press of a button on a smartphone app, if the Mayor of Seattle has his way. Recreational marijuana has been legal in Washington State since July of 2014, when the state enacted Initiative 502, legalizing the drug for non-medical use. But pot enthusiasts have been required to visit one of the state’s licensed weed dispensaries to purchase their supplies.
In fact, it remains illegal to sell pot anywhere other than at a licensed dispensary outlet — the local 7-11 is not permitted to dispense marijuana, for example — and those retail outlets must sell only marijuana and marijuana-related products.
But that hasn’t stopped any number of wildcat entrepreneurs from operating their own home pot delivery services in Seattle and other Washington localities, and police have largely looked the other way. The leading weekly newspaper in Seattle, the Stranger, has even allowed those illegal marijuana delivery services to take out ads in their pages.
Those days are numbered, however, as Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and City Attorney Pete Holmes announced this week that they now support a bill currently in front of the Washington state legislature that would create a regulated “pilot program” allowing legal home delivery of marijuana in Seattle. If the bill passes and the two-month pilot program succeeds, legal pot delivery services could then be expanded throughout the state.
“We must address illegal delivery services that are undermining I-502 and allow responsible businesses to offer delivery service in Seattle,” Murray said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “The proposed pilot delivery program, along with increased enforcement of existing marijuana laws, will better protect customers, patients and business owners, while strengthening the legal marijuana industry.”
The illegal delivery services pay no taxes, allowing them to compete on an unfair basis with legal marijuana retailers.
The founder of the Stranger, Tim Keck, announced that his paper will cease running advertisements for illegal marijuana delivery.
The Stranger strongly believes in legalization & a thriving retail market. We will be discontinuing unlicensed delivery service ads in Feb.
— Tim Keck (@timothykeck) January 19, 2016
While there are currently 19 licensed, legal marijuana retail outlets in the city of Seattle, officials estimate that 24 under-the-table home delivery services operate in the northwestern metropolis with a population of more than 660,000.
Under the proposed pilot program, five licensed pot dispensaries will be permitted to set up home delivery services. And there’s already a service that bills itself as the “Uber for pot” waiting to team up with them.
In 2014, Josiah Tullis — then a junior at the University of Washington — created an app called “Canary,” which allows pot purchasers to order marijuana delivery directly from their smartphones. At the time, Tullis — who functions only as a delvery contractor and does not sell marijuana himself — partnered with medical marijuana dispensaries, but when delivery of even medical marijuana was outlawed in Washington the following year, Tullis shut down his operation.
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“We realized that nobody had built the software yet for the marijuana industry, and we kind of jumped in, I would say, a little too early,” he told KING-TV this week.
Now, Tullis is ready to take Canary back online, as soon as the House Bill 2368, creating the pot delivery pilot program, passes the state legislature. And he believes he’s in prime position to take over the marijuana delivery industry, because getting pot to the front door isn’t as easy as it might sound.
“We have been maintaining our technology and intend to service legal delivery outfits as soon as they can launch, either here in Washington or in Oregon where recreational delivery has already been codified,” Tullis told the tech news site GeekWire on Wednesday. “Servicing online orders and on-demand delivery is a huge logistical challenge for these players and our software makes it easy for recreational shops to enable both overnight.”
Home delivery of alcohol is already legal in Washington, and now pot at your doorstep appears close behind.
[Photo by Creatista/Shutterstock]