Law goes into effect June 28
By Mark Carlisle
Glendale medical marijuana card holders will soon be able to have marijuana delivered to their doorstep.
City Council approved a law change allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in the city to deliver to customers with a 5-1 vote last week. The new law goes into effect Friday, June 28.
Planning Administrator David Williams said two key reasons for staff’s recommendation to approve the amendment were to decrease the use of illegal delivery services and to increase origin-based sales tax revenue by allowing legal deliveries from Glendale dispensaries rather than from the next town over. Dispensaries in cities where medical marijuana deliveries are legal can legal delivery into other Arizona cities.
“I think as long as it’s legal, we need to regulate it. We need to try to control it the best we can,” said Mayor Jerry Weiers. “But I think by saying, ‘No’ isn’t the answer. I think by trying to do it properly and giving our businesses in Glendale a fair shake and not the opportunity for (businesses) outside of Glendale to have the advantage.”
Cholla District Councilwoman noted that not only would Glendale dispensaries be able to potentially reclaim origin-based sales tax from other cities for deliveries inside Glendale, but Glendale dispensaries could also deliver into other Valley cities and Glendale would collect the sales tax on the sale.
There are four state-licensed dispensaries in Glendale.
Deliverers would still need to follow state laws regarding medical marijuana deliveries. Deliverers would be employees of state-licensed dispensaries, who all must undergo FBI background checks. Patients are limited to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Vehicles cannot have any mention of marijuana or the dispensary name, and the delivered products must be sealed and not visible — carried in a paper bag mandated by the state.
Deliverers also must confirm a patient’s medical marijuana status with the state at three different steps along the way — when the order is placed, before the order is sent out and before the order is given to the patient.
Medical marijuana can only be delivered to residential addresses, though it does not have to be the address on the patient’s medical card. The delivery cannot be handed to anyone except the card holder.
“(It is) pretty much the same exact thing, same exact regulations as if you were to walk into a dispensary itself,” said Justin Schudel, co-founder of Superb Solutions, a company that sells delivery software to dispensaries. Mr. Schudel applied for the law the change.
Sahuaro District Councilman Ray Malnar said he has not been a proponent of medical marijuana since it became legal in the state in 2010, “mainly because of the abuses that may occur as a result of what I consider very loose regulations.” However, he voted to approve the change because he hoped it would better regulate the drug.
“I would hope that this process will help eliminate or minimize that type of illegal activity in our state,” Mr. Malnar said.
Mr. Schudel said part of the goal of the change was to reduce or eliminate the “black market” of illegal deliveries, which he said is his industry’s largest competition.
“Honestly, that’s the biggest hinderance to this industry. It’s hurting us. It’s crippling us,” Mr. Schudel said.
Vice Mayor Joyce Clark, of the Yucca District, was the lone no vote.
“I believe in upholding values,” Ms. Clark said. “I believe that the state has permitted the use of medical marijuana. I personally did not vote for it; I voted against it. So, I must permit, by state law, the sale of medical marijuana in the city of Glendale. I do not have to promote it. And I consider delivery for the sake of convenience a promotion of a product that I think does not represent the values of many people in America.”
Mr. Williams said the Glendale Police Department was consulted and it did not object to the law change, but neither was a proponent of it. Police Chief Rick St. John said he spoke with police chiefs in cities where medical marijuana delivery is already illegal and was not aware of any issues caused by legal deliveries. Mr. Schudel said Mesa saw a small reduction in drug-related thefts.
During a presentation to the planning commission, which approved the law change 6-1, in December, Mr. Schudel played a TV news report for the commission that showed how Supurb had delivered medical marijuana to a woman with cancer, whose said her pain is so bad on some days that she cannot get out of bed.
“I know that there are a lot of people that are bedridden, unable to drive that it can make a big difference in their life,” Mayor Weiers said, adding that he knew a man in his late 20s, who was injured at work and CBD oil was the only thing he’d found to effectively ease his pain.
In addition to sickness and immobility, Mr. Schudel said medical marijuana patients might prefer delivery because of a lack of transportation, time issues, privacy, convenience or safety, saying the option of delivery will lessen the likelihood that some patients would consume the product on the drive home from the dispensary. He also said delivery would decrease loitering around dispensaries and their surrounding businesses.