Pot drivers might lose more than green

Graphics by Prisma Flores.

Graphics by Prisma Flores.

With a new twist to Oregon’s recently adopted marijuana law, the state’s OLCC (Oregon Liquor Control Commission) has granted permits to many of Oregon’s dispensaries to deliver marijuana directly to people’s homes.

The rules about delivery are pretty basic. Marijuana can only be delivered to a residence, not a park or a dorm or a street corner, and only within the city that dispensary is licensed in. The pot has to be transported in a locked box; the delivery driver can only transport so much at a time; and the recipient has to sign for it with a valid ID when accepting it.

This is a major change for a state that doesn’t seem to have everything quite figured out about where it wants its marijuana industry to stand, in the long term.

Oregon has seemed to make major changes to its marijuana law with every year, adding new means of distribution. However, the state appears to limit all of these means of distribution by requiring each business to obtain one of a limited amount of permits.

The delivery of marijuana, though, may also remind Oregonians of drug dealers who make “house calls” to sell their pot, which led to quite a bit of crime in that era’s heyday. And some people can become uneasy when the state of Oregon can be so easily compared with drug dealers.

To the people who frequent dispensaries or purchase marijuana on a regular basis, the home delivery can seem like a dream come true. Order a pizza, order a bag of weed, and settle in for a great night.

If you don’t smoke pot, however, you may have some concerns with this new purchasing option.

For one, should we allow direct delivery of something like this straight to people’s homes? For example, would we permit delivering liquor to someone’s home, as we would takeout food? What about the potential crimes the new deliveries could lead to? Let’s say a driver leaves the dispensary with $2,500 in pot (the new limit is $3,000 of product) and a nefarious person has figured out it’s a delivery driver they can rob.

There are countless news stories across the country every year, spanning decades, that describe pizza drivers getting robbed and or shot, and that’s for cash and pizza. But when was the last time you saw a pizza driver carrying up to $3,000 worth of cash or product? When you add drugs into the mix, you could add a whole heap of trouble on top of a situation that’s already a bit shady, to begin with.

We’re serious – as are the facts. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, there were a reported 759 deaths among driver/sales workers and truck drivers. In contrast, there were 125 deaths among police officers in the same year, according to FBI data. That’s almost a 600 percent difference.

That’s not to mention the assaults, rapes and other crimes frequently committed against delivery drivers, of all types.

There are some good things that this home delivery option could accomplish for Oregonians. This could be a tremendous boon for older people who are unable to drive to get their medical marijuana, or those suffering through cancer and/or chronic pain.

It also could be a great way to prevent people driving who have already imbibed to go seek more marijuana, keeping our streets a bit safer.

Oregon, though, isn’t the first place that has passed a law allowing the home delivery of marijuana. If we look to California there are some lessons we might be able to learn. At the end of last year, the CEO of Sespe Creek Collective, a medical marijuana delivery company, was arrested (and currently awaits trial) for selling marijuana in an illegal fashion, as well as perjury.

According to the CEO, one of the main danger points is that marijuana dispensaries have a major limitation as compared to other businesses: Because marijuana is still federally illegal, the majority of banks won’t work with them – leaving them to be cash-only operations.

A cash-only business has a much easier time skirting the law, and also leaves its drivers in a much worse situation than if they were able to do their transactions all by card or check.

Let’s be honest, drugs breed crime – they always have, and there are countless statistics to verify that, and just because the state has legalized the drug doesn’t change the fact that marijuana is still, in essence, a drug. It also doesn’t change the money and profitability of selling marijuana or make it any less of a criminal target.

This could potentially be a disturbing situation, and Oregon needs to ask itself: Is the price of convenience potentially worth the life of another person?

We may need to have more discussion about this as a community before we allow this to go into full swing. This might not be the direction that Oregon wants to head, at least not without giving it some serious consideration.

While there are a lot of potential benefits from Oregon allowing marijuana delivery, it might come at a cost that’s too high. As citizens, we need to keep a watchful eye on this business, and make sure that we’re not driving down a dark road leading to more problems.

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