Drones Won’t Be Delivering Weed in California Anytime Soon

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As the home of Silicon Valley and one of America’s more liberal states, California seemed like the ideal place for autonomous drone delivery of soon-to-be-legalized Marijuana. But last week the state’s Bureau of Cannabis Control issued rules on the sale and distribution of weed. It’s not good news for residents relying on drones for their next high.

Hidden inside the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s huge Initial Study document are a few rulings that weed distributors in California will have to adhere to come January 1st, 2018:

“Cannabis goods will be required to be transported inside commercial vehicles or trailers. Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles.” 

So that rules that out then. The document also states that:

“Deliveries may be made only in person by enclosed motor vehicle. 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.”

Read more: 6 Reasons Why Drone Delivery Is Total BS

Bad news for weed delivery startups

The decision to legalize marijuana in California promises to create a huge industry almost overnight that’s worth as much as $5 billion to the state according to a recent economic study.

But these rules restricting autonomous weed delivery will be bad news for a small number of startups, including MDelivers, Eaze and Trees Delivery, who have all explored the possibility of delivering cannabis through the air.

Read more: Amazon Prime Air Drone Delivery Hits the US

Is Weed Drone Delivery in California a Matter of Time?

Drones have already been used to deliver sushi, hotdogs, pizza and medical supplies around the world, in countries from the USA to Iceland and Rwanda. And with huge retailers such as Amazon pushing for relaxed regulations that will enable more and more aerial deliveries, it might not be too long before the state of California opens the skies to weed delivery by drone.

There are plenty of challenges for those who want to make it a reality, from safety and privacy to infrastructure and beyond line of sight flight. But the state is famous for tech startups and innovation, so let’s wait and see if an on-demand drone delivery service for weed takes off anytime soon.



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