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There are dozens of marijuana delivery services, like Summerlife, available in Seattle.

Do a quick Craigslist search for “marijuana delivery” in Seattle and you’ll have a hard time not finding yourself some good ol’ greenery for the evening, ready to be delivered to your door in hours.

Now the City of Seattle wants to make sure that doesn’t happen.

David Mendoza, a policy advisor to Mayor Ed Murray, told City Council members this week that Murray’s office wants the Seattle Police Department to crack down on illegal weed delivery services.

Even though you can now legally buy recreational pot in Washington and smoke it privately, the state has yet to set up a legal framework for delivering weed. In the meantime, there has been an influx of small businesses openly advertising their new delivery services.

Jason Kelly, press secretary for Mayor Murray, told GeekWire that illegal delivery services “undermine the legal and licensed recreational marijuana businesses established under state law.” There’s also a concern about delivery services impacting the medical marijuana “collective gardens,” which already operate in a legal gray area.

“The idea behind enforcement is that it will send a strong signal that there’s no place in Seattle for this type of operation,” Kelly said.

This move doesn’t surprise Steve Cominski, a sales manager at Winterlife, which was arguably Seattle’s top-grossing delivery service before the company shut down operations in August.

Megh Vakharia and Josiah Tullis, co-founders of Canary.
Megh Vakharia and Josiah Tullis, co-founders of Canary.

Winterlife, however, is set to re-open this month — but as a legal processor of marijuana, not a delivery service.

“The state has a vested interest in enforcing the law against businesses operating outside of the sanctioned I-502 sphere, so this is not surprising to us at all,” Cominski told GeekWire. “Winterlife always knew the time would come when the delivery model would come under pressure to go away. Anticipating this, we proactively shuttered our delivery business back in August to focus on the transition to an I-502 cannabis processor.

Seattle’s planned enforcement also affects entrepreneurs like Megh Vakharia and Josiah Tullis, two University of Washington students we profiled in June that are developing an app called Canary, or, the “Uber for marijuana.”

The Canary co-founders have always been cautious about entering the recreational delivery market and rather are focusing on partnering with medical marijuana shops to deliver bud. As a result, they support the city’s crackdown on illegal delivery services.

Dave, a new marijuana delivery app in Seattle.
Dave, a new marijuana delivery app in Seattle.

“Canary is, always has been, and always will strive to operate within the regulatory confines of the law,” Vakharia said. “We’ve taken a lot of time and have been treading carefully in finding a model that works with our current medical marijuana legislations. It’s our duty and priority to protect our customers, couriers, and dispensary partners.”

That’s the same sentiment shared by Dave, another Seattle startup that is building an app to help deliver medical marijuana.

“A regulated system will be safer for the public and patients, and should help expedite state-wide regulations for medical marijuana,” the company told GeekWire. “This will only hurt companies whose business models rely on the current Wild West nature of the industry. Our service is designed to keep non-medical patients out of the system, track the GPS location of every sealed and numbered package, and provide a detailed set of records for any government regulators.”

Kelly said that Mayor Murray is considering a provision in his draft ordinance to regulate medical marijuana shops that would allow patients to have their pot delivered. As far as laws regulating delivery of recreational marijuana, the state has yet to outline any plans for that.

Kelly added that there’s no timeline in place for enforcement. In the meantime, delivery services like Club Raccoons say they’ll continue to operate.

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