Cannabis drone delivery dream goes up in smoke

By Kitty Knowles 12 September 2017

Lawmakers have banned the new-age drug drone delivery system. Any guesses why?

Cannabis is now legal for medical use in 29 US states.

It’s also becoming legal for non-medical use in many more, including California.

But despite being viewed as ‘progressive’ by some, the industry won’t be embracing the latest innovations in delivery.

While Silicon Valley is the home of the tech elite, the state’s cannabis bureau has ruled that marijuana can’t be delivered by any autonomous vehicles.

“Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human-powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles,” it declared last week.

That means no drug delivery by robot or drone.

Dampening dreams

It might sound like lawmakers are getting ahead of themselves, but as The Memo’s US correspondent Bonnie Halper has pointed out, the legal weed industry in America is smoking hot for both new businesses and investors.

In January, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control expects to issue as many as 11,500 retail licences – a move that will boost an economy around everything from farming to security to smoking kit and tools.

Already it’s clear the ban will impact a number of businesses promising drone drug delivery, including the likes of Eaze, MDelivers, and Trees Delivery.

Under the newly announced rules, Californian users won’t even be able to get their cannabis by post. They’ll have to pick it up in person, or else have it delivered discreetly in a GPS-tracker car.

All this appears to be an attempt to make it impossible for anyone other than you (and your seller) to see, intercept – or yes, smoke – your prescription drugs.

But, drones?

Make no mistake: drones are the future, with some particularly useful applications to health.


In Rwanda and Tanzania drones are now dropping vital blood, plasma, and coagulants to doctors in need of supplies. In Britain pharmacies are testing ways to fly your viagra, contraceptive pills and other medicines to your door.

Amazon is famously working on making drone deliveries a reality by 2020, and with its investment in ‘Amazon Pharmacy’ will surely be considering drugs by drone.

Surely, no one one would choose arduous trips to collect medication when it could be quicker and cheaper to receive it by air – and that’s before you consider the painful ailments people might be suffering in the first place.

Cannabis drone deliveries might be illegal now, but if history shows anything, it’s that prohibitive laws can always be overturned.