Pot delivery by drone? California cannabis czars put the kibosh on stoner pipe dream

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control plans to ban pot delivery by drone.
(Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

If you imagined the skies of California would someday be buzzing with drones carrying tiny vials of pot or edibles for recreational marijuana users, think again because that stoner fantasy was just a pipe dream.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control last week outlined its plans to ban pot delivery by drone, putting the kibosh on any business hoping to make a buck on the concept.

On Wednesday, the bureau released an initial study describing proposed emergency regulations for commercial cannabis businesses ahead of Jan. 1, when marijuana sales, with proper retail licensing, will be allowed for recreational use in California.


In its study — Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations — the bureau is clear: Marijuana must be transported in trailers or commercial vehicles.

If the message was lost, the bureau goes a bit further: “Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles or unmanned vehicles.”

The rule differs from federal drone regulations, which allow package delivery by drone as long as the device is within sight of the pilot, doesn’t fly over people and the product weighs less than 55 pounds. Federal regulations, however, still would prohibit a drone pilot from delivering marijuana.

Because the Federal Aviation Administration has jurisdiction of the nation’s airspace, the agency encourages “local and state governments that are considering their own drone laws to consult with the FAA to ensure their proposals don’t conflict with the FAA’s exclusive jurisdiction,” agency spokesman Ian Gregor said.

In this case, he said, “We are not aware of any consultations that took place between the California Bureau of Cannabis Control and the FAA.”

But not all is lost.

If you can’t seem to muster up the energy to drive to a weed shop, the bureau will allow businesses to offer delivery services to customers — by commercial vehicle only.


Even that option has its regulations, however.

Delivery employees may not carry more than a specified amount of marijuana products at any time. Cannabis products cannot be visible to prying eyes and left unattended. Employees also must log on to a GPS device and keep records of their deliveries as well as the vehicles they used.

But most important, according to the study: “Delivery employees may not consume cannabis during delivery.”

Got opinions on the study? The bureau plans to hold three workshops — in Long Beach, Fresno and Sacramento — for the public, and to have a comment period, ending at 5 p.m. Oct. 5.

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA



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1 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from the FAA.

This article was originally published at 11:10 a.m.