Oakland Needs to Okay Medical Cannabis Delivery Services 

It's time for this important service to come out of the shadows and receive the protections afforded to storefront dispensaries.

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Delivery-only dispensaries have done business in the Bay Area for years alongside the more prominent brick-and-mortar dispensaries that most residents are familiar with. Due to the cap on storefront dispensary permits (currently only eight allowed in Oakland), these delivery-only services exist in a robust and fairly saturated space. But we operate in the shadows, without the protection of clear laws that are established for the brick and mortars. The City of Oakland is currently considering an increase in its number of licenses, and for the first time, a formal acknowledgement of the delivery-only market.

We urge the Oakland City Council to allow for an unlimited number of delivery-only permits, to increase accessibility for patients, allow growth of existing community-based collectives, and to capitalize on the potential tax revenue for the city. Taking this step should be part of a commonsense local regulatory plan that respects and supports the responsible cannabis businesses and benefits patients. This will help to build relationships with law enforcement, incentivize cannabis businesses to develop high-level operating standards, and enable those businesses to contribute to the city's tax base.

As an African-American woman who bootstrapped my collective one year ago, I hope the city continues to lift barriers that limit the innovation and economic opportunities that the cannabis collectives can provide in Oakland. As an entrepreneur, I personally developed and implemented a business plan that I am living out each day. But my efforts are not without risk. Our collective works hard to serve our patients seven days a week without the benefit of angel investors, police protection, or even a clear legal framework. We are not here as a way to supplement another business — this is our primary focus, our passion, and our purpose. We are ready to be allowed to be proud of that.

We believe in cannabis culture: a culture that embraces art, music, love, and most significantly, the medically proven, healing benefits of the plant. We support the funding of cannabis research and education, and we exist to support patients who have been denied access to medicine that can profoundly improve their lives. Additionally, we encourage the opportunities for economic independence that the cannabis industry has brought for women and people of color.

Supporting patients and the canna community is our mission, not an afterthought. Many in this industry have given up careers, put their families at risk, and formed collectives despite the lack of access to funding — and all with the constant fear of everything from the inability to reenter the workforce to federal prosecution.

Permit limits encourage an unfair advantage in Oakland's cannabis industry and stall the growth opportunities for brave new collectives. This is a critical moment for the city as it decides how to promote access to cannabis for patients, and it is a turning point for Oakland's entrepreneurs who are ready to bring our passion, innovation, and tax revenue to the community. There is a need in the cannabis community for cautious creativity that operates without attracting unwanted attention. This careful inventiveness informs how we disseminate information to patients, the way we develop apps, hold job fairs, serve cannabis dinners, host product education events, and sponsor research.

Our patient community includes women, veterans, seniors, student athletes, working professionals, and critically ill patients who do not have access to a storefront. There has been significant growth in the number of diverse entrepreneurs ensuring that patients have access to the widest range of treatment options available. Delivery-only dispensaries provide alternative outlets for those products.

We are members of a community of like-minded collective members who support our patients and promote responsible consumption. The beauty of cannabis is not only that it heals, but it unifies. We share cannabis, we pass it, and we "gift" it to those that need it. It is our hope that Oakland's cannabis professionals can find a way to keep that spirit alive.

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