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Totally uncool California bureaucrats shoot down drone weed delivery

Regulators harshing the buzz

California says its impending legalization of recreational marijuana will not include skies full of herb-toting drone delivery bots.

A set of rules [PDF] handed down from the state's Bureau of Cannabis Control mandates that any delivery services operating in the state only use cars to make their drop-offs. The ruling expressly forbids the use of boats, aircraft, trains, bicycles – or, yes, drones – to deliver orders to customers.

"Cannabis goods will be required to be transported inside commercial vehicles or trailers," the buzzkill document reads.

"Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles."

Much of the reasoning behind the rules appears to be safety-related. In addition to only allowing delivery by car, the provision calls for all delivery vehicles to be equipped with GPS trackers that can be followed by the distributor. This, presumably, is as much for the safety of the delivery driver as it is for any regulatory concerns.

The provision against "human powered vehicles" could irk many in San Francisco, where a tightly packed population and the lack of parking spaces has kept a sizable bicycle delivery community active.

The rules come ahead of the January 2018 implementation of recreational marijuana legalization in California. The Golden State had long allowed for medical use when, in 2016, voters approved a proposition legalizing recreational consumption with a one-year run-up period to allow the state to hammer out details.

The state will still allow for the use of medical marijuana (M-class) licenses for both patients and sellers. Recreational use will be covered by a second (A-class) set of regulations that include provisions for checking the IDs of customers (who must be over 21) and mandatory security measures for the store itself, including specific hours of sale and mandated alarm systems for retailers.

While no company that we're aware of has formally pitched a plan to ship bags of weed through the air on drone quad-copters (bud-copters?), a number of retailers, most notably Amazon, had toyed with the idea of using drones to deliver other purchases to customers. ®


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