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California recently endorsed a rule allowing cannabis deliveries statewide, even in communities that have previously banned cannabis sales. However, consequences from Proposition 64 still create barriers for cannabis delivery and medical cannabis patients in San Diego. The regulatory process was issued Jan. 9, and gave existing San Diego cannabis delivery companies the opportunity to convert into a for-profit retail storefront company, but only after acquiring both a local cannabis business license and state permit from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Meeting Demand

Delivery advocacy group San Diego Cannabis Delivery Alliance (SDCDA), insists that the lack of local licenses and guidance from Sacramento made things challenging. “[The] city council has been slow to recognize the hundreds of independent delivery services operating in the city and has yet to issue business licenses to them,” SDCDA Board President Sam Humeid told CULTURE. “This has left delivery service operators with limited options, such as partnering with one of 15 licensed store-front dispensaries, relocating to a city that is permitting cannabis delivery, going out of business, or going outlaw.”

Denver, Colorado, with an approximate population of 600,000 people, has over 350 licensed retail outlets. In comparison, San Diego is home to 1.4 million people (not to mention 35 million tourists annually), and currently has 15 operating retail outlets. With only 15 legal cannabis providers in San Diego, issues like supply and demand need to be addressed. SDCDA believes 10 delivery services per council district would be sensible and marginalize the illicit market.

“Going from [hundreds] of delivery options to 15—that’s all for 1.5 million people?” questions Gracelyn Goldberg-Jefferson, a local San Diego resident. If 10 percent of the population is looking for legal product, that’s an estimated 9,000 customers per location. Demand may not be met by legal stores, ultimately contributing to growth in the illicit market.

 

Providing safe and affordable access

Whether San Diego will pay homage to nonprofits and enable a solution is yet to be determined. “I hope compassionate care and the spirit of Proposition 215 will find its way back onto legislative rolls. Cannabis industry professionals are eager to donate to nonprofit cannabis organizations, after all, we owe it to them who risked it all,” Humeid shared.

Post-Proposition 64 is also a change for doctors who previously referred patients to nonprofit medical cannabis collectives and cooperatives. Now they send patients to just one of the 15 licensed recreational cannabis retailers in San Diego. Some offer delivery, some do not. Patients are not always able to drive or get timely, educated help.

The cost of products can be prohibitive to those who previously relied on nonprofit charity model prices as well. “The only shop we have here in town charges way too much and they don’t have everything you need,” David Sellers, a longtime San Diego medical cannabis patient shared.

“The only shop we have here in town charges way too much and they don’t have everything you need.”

 

Impacts to industry diversity

Many residents believe smaller minority and female-owned facilities that built the industry can’t raise the capital needed to now enter the legal market. “My hope is that in 2020, people vote to keep cannabis an accessible industry for all of us to equally participate,” said Daniel Keehn, a San Diego businessman who believes the will of the people has been skirted from zoning laws and costly, complex permit procedures.

The elimination of safe access inadvertently created by Proposition 64 may fuel the citizen base to demand fair market competition. To get involved in cannabis delivery reform, join the SDCDA, contact the Mayor, your local city councilmember, and San Diego’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee to ensure cannabis delivery is put on the city agenda for discussion and review. Each call and letter is tallied and provides data that lawmakers and influencers need to address the concerns of San Diegans.