Despite the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, delivering weed is still a risky business. Pot delivery services currently are illegal in the city of L.A. (though that's likely to change), and drivers carrying cash and cannabis could become targets for police and robbers alike.
Cannabis delivery service Eaze (which operates statewide but not in the city of L.A.) dreams of another way. Over the weekend the company demonstrated drone delivery of marijuana at the High Times Cannabis Cup in San Bernardino. Though it says the technology is perhaps years away from being put into use, the "Drone Lifted Experience" demo (see video, below) showed how simple it could be.
At the National Orange Show Events Center, Eaze had a drone lower a package into the eager hands of a participant. "The biggest takeaway from the demonstration is how technology is moving the industry forward," says Sheena Shiravi, Eaze's head of public relations. "It's not that far away."
The legality of drone delivery is still up in the air. The L.A. City Council has been empowered by voters, who approved Measure M in March, to set up a framework to legalize delivery — in a way that's consistent with state law. California regulations require any delivery service to be attached to a permitted brick-and-mortar source; supporters of legalizing weed delivery in L.A. say the council could simply permit delivery warehouses to satisfy the state rules.
It's not clear if the city plans to leave the door open to drone-based delivery. But proponents see it as a no-brainer that would take drivers out of the line of fire of cops and criminals. Shiravi says that if the council doesn't open the door to legal delivery services — with the possibility of drones being used in the future — the black market could advance. "If you don't allow for legal delivery, people will do what's easier — often turning to the illicit market."
Drones have already been used to deliver illegal drugs to prisoners in London last year. And some critics are already sounding the alarm about a future where drones, devoid of the kind of tracking used by the U.S. Postal Service, could be used to facilitate worldwide narcotics trafficking.
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Eaze has no immediate plans to deliver weed via drone. It just wants the world to see the possibilities, Shiravi says. "We really want to showcase the power of technology in this industry and help regulators understand it," she says.
Daniel Yi, a spokesman for MedMen, a tech-savvy marijuana dispensary in West Hollywood, says it's open to the idea of sending a pot-bearing drone to your door.
"These are exciting times for the cannabis industry," Yi said via email. "As marijuana becomes more mainstream, we expect to see all kinds of innovations in the sector. That’s the beauty of opening up the space to legitimate commerce. You invite creative minds from other sectors to apply their ideas into this space. Whether any single innovation sticks will be up to consumers and regulators to decide, but ideas should always be welcome."