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Massachusetts Marijuana Delivery Rule Requiring Two Drivers Per Vehicle Remains In Force Despite Vote To Repeal It



“There are a lot of companies like mine that are running out of time. Some have gone under already, and that rule is one of the primary causes of that.”

By Bhaamati Borkhetaria, CommonWealth Beacon

Last December, after months of deliberation, the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) voted to eliminate its so-called two-driver rule—which requires all marijuana deliveries to be handled by two drivers.

The vote was 3–1, with Commissioner Bruce Stebbins the lone holdout. He was concerned about dropping a safety requirement to make the delivery license more lucrative. His fellow commissioners, however, wanted to reduce overhead costs for the delivery companies, which are headed by social equity licensees. “Ample security measures are already in place,” said Commissioner Nurys Camargo, referring to body cams and GPS tracking.

Five months later, the two-driver rule remains in place. Delivery operators are still waiting for relief, and the commission has no timetable for when the rule will be modified. At the commission’s public meeting on May 9, the commission’s general counsel shared that it would be months before the two-driver rule is removed. The CCC attributed the delay to an effort to consolidate a number of regulatory changes dealing with deliveries in a single rewrite.

In the meantime, the two-driver rule remains in place, which is not sitting well with the delivery companies.

“The two-driver rule is a hurdle and a handcuff that companies like mine are facing,” said Gyasi Sellers, the owner of cannabis delivery company Treevit. “There are a lot of companies like mine that are running out of time. Some have gone under already, and that rule is one of the primary causes of that.”

The two-driver rule requires that any cannabis delivery have two drivers in the vehicle so that when one person leaves the vehicle to actually make the delivery, the other person can stay and guard the vehicle. According to the delivery companies, the rule doubles the cost of each job because two people have to be paid for work that can be done by a single person. Plus, if one driver is out, the other driver can’t make the delivery.

Cannabis delivery operators have been speaking out against the two-driver rule for a long time. “[Back] in 2020 and 2021, we were telling the commission that the two-driver rule is gonna really hurt businesses,” said Chris Fevry, the co-owner of Dris Delivery. “We’ve told them multiple times it’s literally just gonna hurt equity. And come to find out it’s still 2024 and the two-driver rule is in place, and companies have gone out of business because of the two driver rule.”

Ulysses Youngblood, the owner of cannabis company Major Bloom, which has a dispensary in Worcester and also a delivery arm, expressed frustration that the CCC wasn’t prioritizing this issue.

“The focus really needs to be tackling that problem and moving on from it,” Youngblood said. “But here we are months later and there’s still no change. There’s still a lot of questions like when is it gonna take place or what’s gonna happen?”

At least five businesses with delivery license types have let their licenses expire and gotten out of the business. There are only 19 delivery licenses that are currently operational.

Youngblood said he suspects the delay in changing the two-driver rule may be due to internal issues at the CCC. The chair of the commission, Shannon O’Brien, was suspended last fall, and it took some time for the remaining commissioners to agree on an interim chair. Also, Shawn Collins, the agency’s executive director, quit his post and a replacement hasn’t been selected yet.

“I think the CCC’s focus for the last several months has been on organizational structure,” said Youngblood. “Obviously they only have four commissioners when there was the intention to have five. And then you have the executive director seat and they’re starting to look for a new executive director. It’s unfortunate because with the kind of internal challenges that they face, you know, who’s to say that their focus is externally on applicants that are social equity?”

The persistence of the two-driver rule means that dispensaries are more reluctant to contract with delivery courier operators because the costs of the delivery are so high.

“We used to offer deliveries in Western Mass. and partnerships with other retailers, and even some Boston-area dispensaries, but all those partnerships and all those people shut down and were laid off,” said Fevry. “Why? Because the two-driver rule, because it’s simply not profitable, and you can’t split the pie. You can’t split the pie equitably enough for both the courier and the [dispensary] to make profit.”

Delivery licenses are currently restricted to social equity applicants, those who qualify for one of two license types targeted toward individuals impacted by the war on drugs. There is also an exclusivity period during which only social equity applicants can operate a delivery business, giving them time to get their businesses off the ground and start making profits before bigger companies join the fray.

Youngblood is afraid that the exclusivity period will end just as the two-driver rule is repealed. He thinks the rule needs to be changed and the exclusivity period extended.

“Here we are years into [the cannabis delivery business] and it’s still not a profitable license type,” said Youngblood. “And now we’re talking about reducing the barriers at the same time as potentially having general applicants apply.”

This article first appeared on CommonWealth Beacon and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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