In some states, opponents of marijuana say they prefer delivery to retail dispensaries — because retail dispensaries cause crime. Studies say they don’t. In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker and prosecutors are opposing delivery for the same safety worries.
ecreational marijuana’s interminable rollout in Massachusetts is continuing along, its glacial pace uninterrupted and unhurried, with no concern too fringe or far-fetched. The latest “speed” bump slowing the ride: resistance to cannabis delivery services from both Governor Charlie Baker and state prosecutors, who are deploying a novel argument in opposition.
In other states where marijuana is legal, authorities and NIMBYs have opposed marijuana storefronts on specious grounds, alleging — without any rationale, and despite data to the contrary — that retail cannabis outlets bring crime and an unsavory element to otherwise respectable neighborhoods. Much better, this line of reasoning went, to have delivery services instead.
Baker may be aware of this line of unreasoning, which may be why he — and the state District Attorneys Association — flipped it on its head.
As per the Boston Herald, Baker and state prosecutors are pushing back against popular support for both cannabis “social clubs” and delivery services, citing unspecified “security concerns” and “risks to public safety.”
“We have security concerns for these businesses, their employees and their customers,” the prosecutors wrote in a letter delivered to the state’s Cannabis Control Commission, according to the AP. “Moreover, these businesses heighten our concerns relative to such issues as operating under the influence, increased marijuana access by persons under the age of 21, theft and diversion to the black market.”
A word on delivery services: They’ve existed for years in California despite violating the letter of the law, urged on by advertisements on Weedmaps and other internet resources, but for varying reasons have proved exceedingly difficult to deploy in other states, where, in a few cases including Colorado, they remain illegal.
Illegal or unregulated, maybe, but remarkably safe. According to testimony in Colorado given by representatives from Eaze, a San Francisco-based software startup that facilitates marijuana deliveries, out of 50,000 transactions, only one “incident” was reported.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, delivering other common dispatched goods like pizzas appears a risky proposition — for the delivery person. In the month of December alone, six delivery drivers were robbed in the city of Worcester in central Massachusetts, according to NECN. According to a restaurant general manager, such robberies are commonplace in the city, with the threat extending to cab drivers.
Are these the threats to the public that have Baker and his state’s prosecutors, charged with protecting public safety, so concerned? If so, they’re not going public. An internet search doesn’t reveal any public statements from the governor regarding the pandemic of delivery-person robberies in his state (though it does bring our attention to one incident from earlier this month in which the pizza-shop workers fought back against their would-be assailant).
In his defense, Baker may be more concerned with seeing his state meet a July 1 deadline to have retail cannabis shops open for business — one full year after Nevada, and six months after California, two states that legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over at the same time as Massachusetts on Election Night 2016. He may believe that that minimum lift is more than enough for his state to deal with.
Considering how difficult it appears to be to safely deliver a pizza in Massachusetts, he may be right. Either way, it would seem he and other public-safety officials may have much more fundamental problems.