'Pot of the Month' Club Delivers in S.F., but Is It Legal?

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on January 06, 2015 10:40 AM

Subscription services are, in the words of Mugatu, "so hot right now." Pay a monthly fee and you can have clothes, vegetables, and toilet paper delivered right to your door.

Is there anything left to be delivered to your door? Turns out there is: marijuana. A subscription service in San Francisco will personally deliver a curated selection of marijuana to you every month.

But is this pot-of-the-month club even legal?

It's Like Magazines, Except It's Weed Instead of Magazines

Dane Pieri, co-founder of Marvina, the "high-end cannabis subscription box service," assures customers that it is. By running marijuana around town by human, rather than through the mail, Marvina avoids federal court. The problems with shuttling medical marijuana around town come from the cities themselves.

Medical marijuana is legal in California, but the state supreme court ruled in 2013 that individual cities and counties can ban pot dispensaries. To that end, Los Angeles voters last year passed a ballot initiative to reduce the number of dispensaries in the city to 135. In December, the city sued the maker of a medical marijuana delivery app called Nestdrop, claiming it was trying to circumvent that initiative. A judge ordered Nestdrop to stop producing its app, even though Nestdrop wasn't itself engaged in growing or delivering marijuana.

The outlook in San Francisco is a little less bleak. The city doesn't go after dispensaries that are otherwise following state and local laws, so San Francisco doesn't have it out for pot dispensaries like some other California cities do (though the federal government has its own opinions). State law is silent on whether dispensaries can conduct delivery services, but a person "who provides assistance to a qualified patient" may be able to transport medical marijuana for the purpose of getting it to that patient.

Not for Everyone

Pieri says that he wants to expand his business into states like Colorado and Oregon. If he does, though, he'll have to establish some kind of local franchise to deliver his product. Interstate transportation of marijuana will get you into federal court, where marijuana is a Schedule I drug, along with LSD and heroin.

Keep in mind that services like Marvina don't mean anyone can call up a bicycle courier and have marijuana delivered across town. Marvina needs to be an authorized marijuana dispensary, and its actions would be allowed only if it were delivering to a person with a verified medical marijuana card or doctor's prescription. Otherwise, Marvina might just be operating on the straight and narrow.

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