Before long, buying adult-use marijuana in New Jersey may not only be legal, but also may be as easy as ordering a pizza or hailing a ride through an app.
As New Jersey moves toward allowing adults 21 and older to buy, possess, and use one ounce (28.38 grams) or less of cannabis marijuana, the state may also allow home delivery.
State Assembly supporters of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act, bill A4497, are joined with a matching bill moving toward a vote in the state Senate. The bills are expected to pass in 2019 and reach the desk of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, a legalization proponent.
In addition to allowing the sale of marijuana at licensed dispensaries, the bill also allows for delivery, either by the dispensaries themselves or through a third party. Supporters see the provision as a convenience for customers, as well as a business entry point into a new billion-dollar industry.
“It's an awesome opportunity for entrepreneurs to get into one of the ancillary areas,” said Scott Rudder, president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association.
New Jersey issues medical cannabis cards based on a doctor's recommendation. The patient, or a designated caregiver, must obtain the medicine from one of a few state-licensed dispensaries. New Jersey has only six dispensaries, but that number is set to double under an expansion Murphy approved in 2018. Still, the existing rules have created a hardship for some patients.
“This all stems from patient access. In New Jersey, that's been a challenge since the inception of our program,” Rudder told Weedmaps News. He praised the bill's inclusion of home delivery,, saying it will mean more chances for entrepreneurs and new business models to flourish.
One of those entrepreneurs is Sean Haughton-Scott of East Orange, who is working to launch Buddy's delivery service in 2019. He told Weedmaps News that when he and his friends first heard Murphy talking about legalization, “We said, hey, this is going to be really big here in New Jersey.”
He then learned to code and develop mobile apps to launch his delivery service. The regulations, however, remain nebulous, he said.
“We're taking a slow approach,” Haughton-Scott said. “We know it's an opportunity that is only going to come around once and so we're going to get this right the first time.”
While more detailed rules are expected after passage, the bill specifically requires the following:
- Vehicles must include a secure lockbox for the cannabis and the delivery route must be trackable via Global Positioning System (GPS).
- Deliveries can be made only to a physical address in New Jersey.
- Drivers must check identification.
- Marijuana products must be handed to the individual who made the order.
- Deliveries aren't allowed to access properties on federal land or that are leased by the federal government.
Home delivery has been allowed under specific conditions as other states legalized cannabis, including in California, Nevada, and Oregon. Haughton-Scott declined to discuss his delivery business model in detail but said he plans to hire drivers outright, using a combination of part-time and full-time employees.
“We expect to be up and running by the second quarter of . We want to make sure all of the kinks and bugs are out of our platform,” he said in late 2018.
According to the Senate version of the bill, the design for the vehicles must show restraint, so don't expect a logo-emblazoned, vividly colored weed truck or a delivery person in tie-dye. “Not everyone wants the entire world to know they indulge,” Haughton-Scott said.
If approved, the bill also would ban delivery by unmanned vehicles, which ties to a provision that all deliveries of cannabis items must be made in person. Futuristic as it may sound, don't expect to see self-driving cars circling neighborhoods or drones dropping bags on doorsteps or passers-by.