Cannabis Delivery Compliance: A Must-Read Guide

  • Discover the timeline and conditions under which cannabis delivery services have been legalized across various states.
  • Understand why cannabis remains illegal under federal law, creating a complex regulatory environment.
  • Examine the varying compliance requirements across different states with specific examples.
  • Explore how technology plays a crucial role in maintaining compliance, with a focus on innovative cannabis delivery software.
  • Learn how cannabis delivery software not only ensures compliance but also enhances operational efficiency.

Delivering cannabis products involves much more than quickly delivering pizzas or other food items. Given the stringent regulatory requirements and potential legal repercussions, cannabis delivery services must adhere strictly to both state and federal laws. The conflict between these two levels of governance—where cannabis might be legal in a state but remains illegal federally—creates a challenging landscape for businesses.

This guide is designed to help you navigate these complexities with ease. It offers insights into the latest regulations and provides detailed examples of how compliance requirements vary from state to state. 

Additionally, we’ll explore how companies leverage technology, such as cannabis delivery management software, to stay compliant while enhancing operational efficiency. Read on to ensure your cannabis delivery operations are efficient, legal, and successful.

A Pandemic Push: Impact of COVID -19 Pandemic to Boost Cannabis Sales

While the COVID-19 pandemic has largely disrupted business channels worldwide, one sector that has grown immensely is cannabis deliveries. 

“Roy Bingham, the CEO of cannabis retail sales tracking platform BDSA, reported that the delivery and curbside pickup sales jumped to 40% of all U.S. Marijuana sales in the spring, compared to 20% of all sales pre-pandemic.” (Source: Forbes)

In response to the pandemic, cannabis delivery operators swiftly adjusted their business models to ensure safety and accessibility. Beyond implementing curbside pickups and home deliveries, many operators revamped their online ordering systems to handle increased demand and introduced contactless payment methods to minimize physical interactions. These changes were not only crucial for compliance with health regulations but also catered to the evolving preferences of consumers, who increasingly sought convenience and safety.

Streamline Your Cannabis Deliveries with Upper

Experience the efficiency of Upper’s curbside pickup feature! Reduce fuel costs and minimize wait times with our contactless pickup options designed specifically for cannabis businesses.

Cannabis Delivery Operations: Federally Prohibited

While many state authorities have decriminalized and even legalized the use, production, and sale of cannabis, it remains classified as a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. This classification means it is considered to have a high potential for dependency and no accepted medical use, making it illegal to possess, distribute, or manufacture marijuana under federal law.

Despite this, there has been significant legislative progress. The Rohrabacher–Farr amendment, passed in 2014, restricts the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with state medical marijuana programs, providing a layer of protection for these programs. Furthermore, the 2018 Farm Bill made a historic amendment by removing hemp (defined as cannabis with less than 0.3% THC) from the Schedule I list, allowing states to develop industrial hemp programs.

Did You Know?

Recent reports suggest that the U.S. Senators have introduced a bill aimed at legalizing marijuana. This move marks a potential shift in federal cannabis policy to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level.

Cannabis Delivery Compliance: State-by-State Overview

Over the past decade, and especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, the cannabis industry has accelerated with state governments legalizing the use, sale, or production of cannabis products. However, the rules and regulations vary significantly from state to state, including licensing, advertising, and transport requirements. 

Important Note: States such as Idaho, Kansas, and Nebraska do not allow the use of medical or recreational marijuana.

Remember that if you want to have a successful cannabis delivery business, adherence to these regulations is not an option but a compulsion. 

Let’s explore the specific requirements and regulations in different states. 

1. Alabama: The possession and use of medical cannabis delivery are legalized and can be consumed only by qualified medical marijuana patients. The caregivers may possess medical marijuana but may not use it for themselves, No delivery regulations yet.

2. Alaska: Residents of Alaska falling in the age group of 21 years and above may use or possess both medical and recreational marijuana legally. However, delivering those products is not allowed. 

3. Arizona:  The Medical Marijuana Act authorized the use, possession, and delivery of medical marijuana up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Recreational marijuana is legal. However, delivery regulations still have to be created. 

4. Arkansas: Only the use of medical marijuana is allowed to qualifying patients and designated caregivers in Arkansas.

5. Connecticut: Adults at the age of 21 and above can possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flowers or an equivalent amount of cannabis concentrates in public, while they can have up to five ounces of marijuana in their private residence.

6. Delaware: Medical marijuana has been legalized for adults aged 21 and above. Also, the registered Compassion Centers may conduct home deliveries to patients with prior approval from the Office of Medical Marijuana. On the other side, the civil penalty remains in place for underage individuals found with cannabis.

7. Florida: While recreational marijuana is illegal in Florida, medical marijuana delivery is allowed for registered patients.

8. Georgia: Recreational marijuana is illegal in Georgia. However, it has now been decriminalized in Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Athens, and other cities. Medical use of Cannabis, on the other side, is allowed in the form of cannabis oil containing less than 5% THC. 

9. Hawaii: Medical use of Cannabis was legalized in Hawaii through the legislation passed in 2000. It was the first state to legalize the medical use of marijuana through a ballot initiative. However, recreational use is still illegal but decriminalized for possession of three grams or less. 

10. Idaho: Possession, use, or sale of marijuana, whether medical or recreational, is strictly prohibited and is considered illegal in Idaho.

11. Indiana: Recreational use is illegal; however, medical usage is allowed to an extent in Indiana.

12. California: Assembly Bill 195 says that the Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) made an emergency regulation to implement track-and-trace requirements. This requires retail sales via delivery to be recorded in the California Cannabis Track and Trace System (CCTT) no later than April 21, 2023.

Considering the regulation imposed, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC) made it a compulsion for all cannabis delivery companies to obtain a state license and comply with all state laws and regulations, which include GPS tracking, real-time monitoring, and strict compliance with laws regarding the sale and distribution of marijuana.

Cannabis companies, to stay compliant with the regulations that had been passed, started using GPS tracking devices on their vehicles to track the location of their deliveries in real time. 

State regulators, in turn, monitor the deliveries and ensure they go to legally authorized locations only. This allows for easy identification of any potential illegal activity.

Ease Your California Compliance

With Upper, you can rest assured your cannabis delivery business is meeting all the GPS tracking requirements set forth by the California Bureau of Cannabis Control. Our system enhances driver accountability, improves operational efficiency, and provides real-time visibility on field operations.

Let’s check how:

However, Upper’s features transformed their operations:

  1. Live driver updates: Monitor the live location, route, and progress of your delivery drivers on an interactive map. Get instant visibility into where your vehicles are at all times.
  2. Simplified dispatch operations: Gain complete control over your delivery fleet. Quickly identify delays, reroute drivers, and make informed decisions to improve dispatch efficiency.
  3. Stay informed in real-time: Receive instant alerts for unexpected stops, route deviations, and delivery status updates. Always stay in the loop on the status of your cannabis orders.
  4. Optimize on-the-go: Easily adjust routes and schedules to accommodate last-minute orders or changing conditions. Make data-driven decisions to maximize the productivity of your delivery operations.
  5. Last-minute flexible re-routing: Adjust routes on the go for unexpected situations.

13. Colorado: The medical and recreational use of cannabis has been legal in Colorado since 2000 and late 2012, respectively. The Colorado Amendment 20 allows the use of marijuana in the state for approved patients with written medical consent. 

Under this law, patients may possess up to 2 ounces (57 g) of medical marijuana and may cultivate no more than six marijuana plants (no more than three of these mature flowering plants at a time).

Similarly, the Colorado Amendment 64 led to recreational legalization in December 2012 and state-licensed retail sales in January 2014.

14. Oregon: Similar to Colorado, Oregon made the recreational use of cannabis legal. However, in both the cases, Colorado and Oregon, there were strict regulations for cannabis delivery. 

The Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and  Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) require all marijuana delivery companies to obtain a state license and comply with all state laws and regulations. This includes strict GPS tracking and real-time monitoring during deliveries, similar to California.

Also, delivery drivers delivering cannabis products in Colorado and Oregon must be 21 years or older. Deliveries must be made only to private residences, not in public places like parks or streets. 

Ensure that your delivery drivers verify the age of the person receiving the delivery by checking a valid government-issued ID. They must also ensure that the delivery address matches the ID.

Age Verification Simplified with Upper

Capture customer signatures & ID verification images upon delivery to ensure compliance with legal regulations. Also, keep digital records of successful deliveries for easy reference & compliance with industry standards.

15. Massachusetts: While medical use of marijuana is legal in Massachusetts, to deliver recreational marijuana in Massachusetts, cannabis delivery operators must apply for two types of cannabis business license: a Marijuana courier or a Marijuana delivery operator license.

  • Marijuana courier: With this license, holders can earn a fee for delivering cannabis products to consumers from licensed retailers or licensed medical dispensaries.
  • Marijuana delivery operator: Holders of this license may buy and store wholesale cannabis products, as well as deliver them.

Check How Businesses Are Handling Cannabis Delivery Compliance

Cannabis dispensaries, particularly smaller ones, often lack an in-house delivery management department to fulfill orders and may find third-party delivery services too costly. In contrast, larger dispensaries typically have their own delivery management systems or partner with external vendors. 

For instance, Upper, an advanced cannabis delivery software, helps manage and track drivers, plan and optimize routes, fulfill deliveries, and ensure adherence to cannabis delivery laws.

Here are a few perks of integrating an auto-pilot like Upper:

  • Enhanced compliance: Advanced proof of delivery and age verification features capture signatures and ID images for every transaction, ensuring legal compliance.
  • Optimized routes: Save time and reduce fuel costs with Upper’s advanced route optimization that accounts for traffic conditions and delivery windows.
  • Real-time tracking: Monitor your delivery fleet in real-time to ensure timely and secure deliveries.
  • Efficient dispatching: Streamline dispatch operations by assigning routes based on driver availability and making real-time adjustments.
  • Improved customer satisfaction: Provide customers with accurate ETAs and real-time delivery updates, enhancing their delivery experience.
  • Capacity optimization: Adjust cannabis load to legally regulated amounts (e.g., 1 ounce, 1.5 ounces), preventing overloading and ensuring compliance with state laws.
  • Data-driven insights: Leverage detailed reports to optimize your supply chain and make informed business decisions.

Before purchasing, experience Upper continuously for 7 days without any cost. No credit card details are required.

In a notable development, Uber Eats recently partnered with online cannabis marketplace Leafly to offer cannabis delivery in parts of Canada, marking a significant step in the evolution of cannabis delivery services.

Frequently Asked Questions

First and foremost, you can start by researching and understanding the local, state, and federal regulations. Later, obtain the necessary licenses and permits and develop a compliance plan that includes employee training, secure transport methods, and proper record-keeping.

Here are a few activities that you can perform to stay updated with the cannabis delivery regulations:

  • Subscribe to industry newsletters
  • Join professional cannabis associations
  • Attend regulatory webinars and conferences
  • Regularly check updates from local regulatory bodies to stay informed about changes in cannabis laws

Employees should be trained on legal requirements, secure handling and transport of cannabis products, age verification procedures, and accurate record-keeping. Regular refresher courses can help keep staff updated on compliance practices.

Failure to comply with cannabis delivery regulations can result in fines, suspension or revocation of licenses, legal action, and damage to your business’s reputation. Hence, it’s crucial to maintain sufficient records and ensure all practices are up to date with current regulations.

To streamline compliance efforts, consider using cannabis-specific delivery management software that offers GPS tracking, secure customer verification, automated compliance reporting, and real-time delivery updates.

Upper’s advanced GPS tracking and proof of delivery features ensure compliance with state regulations by providing real-time visibility and maintaining digital records.


Navigating the regulatory landscape of cannabis delivery requires careful attention to detail and an understanding of both local and national laws. With the right tools, like Upper, businesses can ensure compliance, optimize operations, and ultimately provide exceptional service to their customers. 

Embrace technology to simplify complexities and stay ahead in the rapidly evolving cannabis market. Start your journey towards seamless compliance with a of Upper and experience firsthand how advanced route planning software can transform your routing operations to delivery on time.

Author Bio
Jeel Patel
Jeel Patel

Jeel Patel is the Chief Executive Officer at Upper. With 5+ years of experience in dev, outbound, and inbound sales, He is committed to growing conversion through inbound and outbound activities. Outside the office, Jeel loves to spend time with his dog and take him on long walks. Read more.