Colorado Cannabis Delivery Restrictions Stall Out in State Legislature

Colorado Cannabis Delivery Restrictions Stall Out in State Legislature

The bill would require dispensaries to be open at least five days a week for five hours a day to have a delivery permit.

May 13, 2021

A legislative committee unanimously postponed a bill proposing restrictions on Colorado's cannabis delivery program after the bill's sponsor requested it to be delayed on May 6.

House Bill 1159, which Democrat Rep. Marc Synder introduced in March, would require dispensaries to be open at least five days a week for five hours a day to have a delivery permit. The bill would also limit delivery sales to only in-store products and would require them to be sold at the same price. Additionally, it would prohibit dispensaries from accepting online prepaid sales for delivery—which is already legal under the state's current program—the bill summary states.

Since Synder introduced the bill, it has encountered several amendment changes, the Westword reported. Some of those changes include, continuing to allow prepaid sales online for delivery and cutting the five-hour requirement for the daily operation to three hours.

Although Synder's bill has already undergone several changes, advocates of the original delivery program still asked him to pull the bill, citing "philosophical differences," Westword reported.

Prior to the vote, Snyder expressed to the committee that his bill was created to protect the delivery program, as he is concerned that many delivery-only stores would open and essentially take over, the news outlet reported.

And some of the state's largest dispensary chains have already shown pushback to the state's original delivery program because they are worried that "Amazon-like warehouses could take advantage of language that doesn't specify that a delivery permit must be connected to an active, operating storefront," the Westword reported.

"I feel a sense of obligation to folks who started on this path in 2012 [and] began opening recreational stores in 2014," Synder said.

However, some business groups who advocate for diverse ownership in Colorado's cannabis industry criticized Synder's timing of the bill, saying it would block the opportunity to diversify cannabis business owners in the state, as recreational delivery sales were set to begin this year, the news outlet reported.

Sydner admitted that racial tension was a factor in his decision to ask the committee to postpone the bill; however, he said that he 100% disagrees that his bill had discriminatory language or intention, according to Westword.

"Small cannabis businesses and entrepreneurs who want to take advantage of the emerging delivery market should not be held to the legislative dictatorial whims of large corporate cannabis chains who already dominate the market," Hashim Coates, Black Brown and Red Badged executive director, said in a statement responding to the bill's postponement. "Delivery is a massive opportunity. Speaking upon the concerns raised by black businesses is not 'creating racial division'; it is simply speaking up. Our concerns are 100 percent focused on the large corporate chain cannabis companies shutting out competition through legislation."

Two Colorado cities, Aurora and Denver, have already approved bills regarding cannabis delivery and have incorporated social equity provisions in their licensing structures. Additionally, Boulder and Longmont will allow medical delivery only.

Synder said he hopes to see his proposed changes discussed this year during the 2021 rulemaking sessions.