Legal marijuana home delivery could come to Seattle

by: Gary Horcher Updated:

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SEATTLE - A Washington state House bill would create a pilot program for a legal marijuana home-delivery service in Seattle.  

Here's how it would work: 

The pilot program would allow five existing licensed recreational marijuana stores in Seattle to offer delivery services to Washington state residents over the age of 21, according to Mayor Ed Murray's office. The pilot program would also provide a framework for delivery requirements, employee training and enforcement. 
The bill's first reading was January 12. 

Here's the reason behind it, according to the mayor's office:   

Despite current law, various online operations have been offering illegal delivery services, undercutting Washington State’s voter-approved legal marijuana market.  

"We must address illegal delivery services that are undermining I-502 and allow responsible businesses to offer delivery service in Seattle," said Murray. "The proposed pilot delivery program, along with increased enforcement of existing marijuana laws, will better protect customers, patients and business owners, while strengthening the legal marijuana industry."  

Nineteen legal recreational marijuana retail stores have opened in Seattle since voters approved I-502 in 2012.  The number of illegal delivery services has outpaced legal retail stores, growing to an estimated 24 services and operators, according to the mayor's office.  

A local app/website called Canary facilitated deliveries for months before it’s University of Washington student inventors suspended operation. Canary claimed to be the Uber of marijuana, with software enabling medical marijuana patients to order direct home delivery from dispensaries.  

"We realized that nobody had built the software yet for the marijuana industry, and we kind of jumped in, I would say, a little too early," said Josiah Tullis, one of Canary's owners. 

When Tullis and his partners were advised by the City of Seattle that home pot delivery was against the law, Tullis decided to suspend the site until the law is clarified and enforced. 

"Our business didn't become illegal," said Tullis. "But our customers, the dispensaries doing the delivery, their business became illegal, and so since we offered software that supports their business, we assumed they would all be shutting down very quickly." But illegal deliveries haven't stopped.

Tullis pointed out advertisements on the back of local newspapers. The Department of Finance and Administrative Services found that these services primarily use websites such as Craigslist, Weedmaps and Leafly to deliver illegally to customers. 

Murray and City Attorney Pete Holmes announced their support of the bill on Tuesday.  

"The goal of I-502 was to create a legal system for producing, processing and selling marijuana to adults in Washington State," said Holmes. "I support our proposals to legalize and regulate marijuana delivery, but businesses that currently deliver marijuana undermine our efforts to demonstrate that there is a regulatory alternative to marijuana prohibition." 

Legal recreational and medical marijuana business owners have requested the city take action against these illicit services, claiming that illegal marijuana delivery is hurting the legal market.

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