Aurora approves supply of leisure pots in Colorado’s third largest metropolis

Aurora’s nearly 400,000 residents – 21 or older – may be able to tap a phone screen and order potted gums and marijuana flowers to be delivered to their doorsteps as early as next year.

Aurora City Council provisionally approved the supply of cannabis in Colorado’s third largest city on Monday evening by 8-2 votes. The ordinance will need a second vote in two weeks’ time, and if passed, marijuana shipments could begin in early 2021.

This would likely make Aurora one of the first cities in the state where consumers could place an order for recreational herb from their couch and wait for it to arrive in the comfort of their home.

“The delivery is particularly necessary because of the pandemic,” said Aurora Alison Coombs, who supported the move. “People have to stay safe in their homes.”

This week is going to be a big week for Colorado cannabis delivery. Aside from Aurora’s Monday night move, the Denver excise and licensing department revealed plans earlier in the day to allow the first delivery of marijuana within city limits. It is unknown when the Denver City Council will take action on the proposal, although the city hopes to begin licensing by July 1 next year.

Medical marijuana delivery was offered in three Colorado communities – Longmont, Superior, and Boulder – in 2020. This marked the first year such door-to-door service was allowed under a law passed by state lawmakers last year. Recreational delivery wasn’t allowed to start until 2021, despite calls earlier this year to make it more widely available during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Truman Bradley, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, said the recreational pot remains the only product on the “essential companies” list of the coronavirus pandemic that cannot be legally shipped.

“I want my cannabis to be delivered just like anything else,” said Bradley.

Aurora’s pot delivery ordinance also includes a “social justice” aimed at helping those targeted or injured in the nation’s long-standing war on drugs. It reserves licenses for the first three years, during which the program is exclusive to “transport companies” – or those who supply marijuana – who qualify under state social justice definitions.

Colorado defines a social justice applicant as someone who has been arrested or convicted of, among other things, a marijuana crime, suffered a loss of property due to a cannabis-related investigation, or lived in an economic opportunity zone for at least 15 years between 1980 and 2010 has qualifications.

Bradley said the approach should give people of color a chance to participate in an industry that hasn’t always been as open as it should.

“We support the use of social justice to increase diversity and inclusion in the cannabis market,” he said. “We want to remove these barriers to work in the company.”

The social justice requirement would only apply to third-party vans and not to Aurora’s 24 marijuana dispensaries, which are free to set up their own delivery system at their discretion.

Monday’s move would allow the city’s marijuana retail stores to deliver cannabis products to customers between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Aside from serving customers within Aurora, pharmacies could also deliver outside of town as long as those neighboring communities allow those deliveries.

Under the ordinance, pharmacies outside of Aurora would also have the option to deliver products within the city. This option was turned down by several pharmacy owners who spoke virtually to the city council on Monday.

They said that allowing large, well-capitalized cannabis companies from outside Aurora to get into town would put Aurora’s stationary pharmacies at risk.

Under the measure, orders would be limited to no more than 1 ounce of marijuana, no more than 8 grams of marijuana concentrate, and no more than 80 milligrams of THC in a marijuana product, typically edible.

Alderman Dave Gruber, who voted against the move, raised concerns about the likelihood of people with criminal records and the history of drug abuse driving Pot around town. Robin Peterson, marijuana enforcement manager at Aurora, said state rules for vans are comprehensive.

“There are very strict rules on how you take and deliver these orders,” she said.

Government regulations for the delivery of marijuana require that carriers use a GPS system to track every stop and turn of the delivery vehicle, record transactions with a dash cam and a product-trained camera in a “secure, locked, and opaque environment “Store securely attached to the delivery vehicle” storage compartment and install a security alarm system.

Each order must include the customer’s date of birth and the address to which the delivery is made.

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