Illinois Cannabis Delivery Licenses may resemble what other states have done with their cannabis delivery. As we reported a few weeks ago, the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission voted to move forward with a delivery-only licenses and delivery endorsements for cannabis. While Massachusetts is leading the way in developing a comprehensive licensing regime for cannabis delivery during the Coronavirus pandemic, other states have responded in a more patchwork fashion. In March, Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois announced that that state would allow curbside ordering, but only for medical sales of cannabis
Plans for Illinois Cannabis Delivery Licenses
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) has not announced any plans to provide applications for cannabis delivery services. However, as we enter another month of lockdown in Illinois and many other states, it seems inevitable that the state will have to consider delivery options especially as other retail industries are facing massive, long-term restructuring regardless of the future of COVID-19.
The Massachusetts model provides a good roadmap for what cannabis delivery could look like in America.
POSSIBLE ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS
Massachusetts imposes several requirements for drivers and driver training. By comparison, Illinois has very few regulations governing cannabis transporter organizations and drivers. Drivers simply need to pass a background check under 8 IAC 1300.570. Of course, cannabis transporters in Illinois merely transport cannabis from cultivators to dispensaries; delivering cannabis to consumers is explicitly prohibited under 410 ILCS 705/15-70(p).
If Illinois follows the lead of Massachusetts, drivers will be required to take separate “Responsible Vendor Training” on issues like cash handling and checking identification, and will have to be instructed on extensive reporting and recordkeeping protocols required by law. Massachusetts creates extensive record keeping requirements specific to cannabis drivers, including detailed instructions on how to maintain a manifest. While Illinois has some scrupulous recordkeeping requirements for cannabis businesses in general, they have basically none which are specific to drivers. In the end, this may not make a huge difference- keeping a manifest and transaction record should be a basic practice for any business, not just cannabis.
Lastly, Massachusetts has created extensive body camera requirements for cannabis delivery drivers. This is yet another area in which Illinois has essentially no regulations at all. While body cameras are a relatively inexpensive technology, this is still another additional requirement that Illinois doesn’t yet have.
Massachusetts imposes strict, extensive requirements on cannabis transportation vehicles as well. Vehicles must have exterior alarms, secured storage compartments for cash and cannabis, devices for secure communications with the cannabis establishment, video monitoring systems, and so on. By comparison, Illinois simply requires that the transportation vehicle have some kind of GPS system, per 8 IAC 1300.595(a)(15). If Illinois follows the Massachusetts model, there could be an entire industry within the cannabis transportation industry, just for properly outfitting transportation vehicles. This could significantly raise the barriers to entry for cannabis transportation businesses, which currently have a relatively low barrier to entry.
Outlook For Illinois
Illinois is looking to significantly ease its COVID-19 lockdown order at the end of May. So, it is possible that cannabis delivery will be put on hold while retail operations return to normal. However, the pandemic has made all industries totally rethink the way they operate. Even if the state allows retail businesses to return to normal, many consumers are going to keep up social distancing for weeks, if not months more during 2020. So for cannabis, like other industries, delivery (and maybe no-contact delivery) could look like the new normal. Cannabis regulators in Illinois and elsewhere will look to Massachusetts for guidance.
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