On Wednesday, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control issued emergency regulations that specifically ban cannabis deliveries by drones. The regulations also ban delivery via any kind of unmanned vehicle, which would include self-driving cars or robots.
It’s disappointing news to companies that have invested time and money into the drone delivery concept. “Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” the emergency regulations read.
The rules mandate that dispensary workers must know exactly where cannabis deliveries are at during all times. “Deliveries may be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle,” the regulations continue. “Cannabis goods may not be visible to the public during deliveries. Cannabis goods may not be left in an unattended motor vehicle unless the vehicle has an active alarm system. Vehicles used for delivery must have a dedicated, active GPS device that enables the dispensary to identify the geographic location of the vehicle during delivery.”
Per the Federal Aviation Adminstration’s (FAA) rules, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) must be flown within the physical line-of-sight with the pilot. Drones must also fly under 400 feet, during the day, at or below 100 mph and must yield to the right-of-way to manned aircrafts. Another major problem is drones getting in the way of disaster relief efforts, or anything else which is more important.
Nations in Africa are using drones to deliver crucial medical supplies to remote areas. Walmart, Chipotle and Domino’s have experimented with commercial drone delivery, but none have gone as far as Amazon. Amazon has gone after patents for talking drones and parachutes. Unmanned delivery robots deliver pizza in the District of Columbia.
Because California is easily the largest economy in the United States, and the cannabis industry is projected to reach $5 billion, the state could be missing out by not allowing the drone delivery of cannabis.