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California Cops Back Lobbying Effort to Stop Legal Pot Deliveries

Police are arguing that allowing pot deliveries undermines local governments' authority to ban legal weed from their jurisdictions and circumvents protections for children.

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California police have joined a growing effort to convince the state Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) to back down on a new regulation that would allow pot to be delivered to any adult in the state. Proposition 64 allows local governments to ban cannabis retail establishments from their jurisdictions, and many officials from these towns are arguing that the delivery rule is undermining their authority by allowing pot to enter their communities without local oversight.

Last month, the League of California Cities, an organization of municipal officials in the state, argued that the BCC should reverse a proposed regulation that explicitly allows pot to be delivered to jurisdictions that otherwise ban the sale of retail cannabis. This week, the California Police Chiefs Association and the United Food and Commerce Workers Western States Council jumped to support this lobbying effort, creating a website warning of the dangers of intrastate pot delivery.

The “Stop Wandering Weed” website depicts a cartoon pot delivery truck pulling up in front of a group of children outside their school. The site warns that “safeguards to protect children and communities are wiped out” because of the new rule, and presents an online petition to collect signatures of those opposed to cannabis delivery. “It’s unfortunate the [BCC] made the decision to undermine the authority of local officials,” California Police Chiefs Association President David Swing said on the website. “The proposed regulations give unrestricted access to the cannabis delivery industry and open the floodgates to a number of public safety risks.”

The new BCC rule is actually not “wiping out” any safeguards, as Proposition 64 already states that “a local jurisdiction shall not prevent delivery of cannabis or cannabis products on public roads" by a state-licensed delivery business. The new regulation currently being proposed by the BCC simply clarifies the already-existing rule to make it more explicit. Licensed weed delivery companies are also held to the same standards as any other marijuana retailer in the state, so delivering to a school or a child remains entirely illegal.

The lobbying groups have argued that these pot deliveries will end up supporting the state's black market, which is still thriving despite full adult-use legalization. A recent survey of Golden State cannabis sales found that 18% of consumer were still buying from the black market, but also found that one of the main reasons for this was a lack of access to legal weed. Another report found that residents in 40% of the state territory have to drive 60 to 120 miles to find legal pot – making home delivery the only viable alternative to supporting the black market for these individuals located in “pot deserts.”

The BCC welcomed public commentary on this and other new regulations through the end of last month, and will now decide whether to uphold or alter their regulations concerning deliveries by December. State Senators proposed a bill this year that would prevent jurisdictions from banning pot deliveries, also in hopes of cutting down on illegal sales, but the bill did not make it out of committee this year.

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