Colorado has made online sales of recreational marijuana legal during the coronavirus epidemic, fulfilling one of the pot industry’s biggest wishes and fueling its argument for more concessions that could be made permanent when the crisis eases.
It’s one of several signs emerging from the virus outbreak of just how far ingrained marijuana has become in mainstream life in several states. Dispensaries are being designated “critical businesses” and are allowed to operate through statewide stay-at-home orders. Large markets such as California, Illinois, Oregon and Washington state are allowing curbside pickup during the crisis.
California already allows for home delivery, and some in the pot industry want other states to follow California’s lead.
“We need to be able to have as little contact as possible to people,” said Colorado dispensary manager Ben Prater. “If people are sick or if they’re immunocompromised, they don’t need to be leaving their house during this time. So I think that delivery is just kind of a necessity at this point.”
Under Colorado’s emergency rules, customers can pay for marijuana online and then pick up their purchase at the store. Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois and Oregon also allow online recreational marijuana sales. But the practice nonetheless remains severely limited because credit card companies tend to shy away from dealing with a drug that is still illegal under U.S. law.
Morgan Fox, a spokesman for the Denver-based National Cannabis Industry Association, said easing restrictions on dispensaries is a step, but he doubts credit card companies will embrace the marijuana industry unless lawmakers provide some cover by passing the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act, which aims to protect financial institutions that serve cannabis-related businesses.
One example is Cannabis Station by Rocky Mountain High, a dispensary housed in an old filling station in downtown Denver. The dispensary has been providing curbside