By: Cassidy Crockett-Verba

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As with many things in the internet age, cannabis is relatively easy to find online. A simple Google search of “buy marijuana online” returns over 29 million results. These range from sites that purport to sell marijuana, to sites that help a person find a seller or sites that tell you anything you want to know about a specific strain.[1] Of the websites that purport to sell marijuana, some will only operate within a legal state, while some offer to ship to any non-federal address.[2] While the sites that are offering to ship to any non-federal address may seem appealing to many, they are not risk free. Shipping cannabis by mail is considered drug trafficking and the USPS may confiscate any packages containing restricted items.[3] In addition to legal consequences, many of these sites are scams and do not deliver any products.[4]

As marijuana remains federally illegal and regulating the internet remains next to impossible, consumers are benefitting from the ease of access to cannabis. In the age of instant gratification, consumers are clamoring for an easy way to obtain everything, including weed.[5] Today you can catch a ride, order dinner, and buy groceries all from your phone.[6] You can also order almost anything from Amazon, sometimes in as little as a few hours. Cannabis is no different depending on where you live. In states where cannabis is legal to use, a few apps that offer delivery to your door have popped up.[7] Companies such as Eaze, GreenRush, and Bud have developed apps and websites specifically devoted to ordering cannabis to be delivered to door of anyone in the states in which they operate.[8] These “Uber for weed” apps make marijuana appear as though it were just another item to purchase, not a drug with federal prohibitions attached. The sites have a pop-up with an “are you 21 or older?” barrier to access, but many brewery and distillery sites also have these even though neither are required by law to have them.[9] These websites do not reflect the age-old stereotypes of “stoners.” They are bright, clean, up-to-date, and modern. Companies are promising easy access to cannabis via modern technological models that already exist (like Uber).

In addition to delivery services, there are companies dedicated to putting dispensaries and even individual sellers on the map.[10] These sites often create a literal map of dealers, dispensaries, and medical clinics where people can receive cannabis.[11] Companies like Leafly, Leafdin, and WeedMaps allow consumers to locate, rate, and review sellers which provides consumers with options like never before.[12] Apps like WheresWeed allow consumers to purchase via online ordering in addition to these actions as well.[13] This newfound availability puts cannabis in the hands of people who were perhaps skeptical, embarrassed, nervous or just incapable before this innovation.

People with disabilities may not have access to transportation and may also experience mobility concerns, prohibiting them from visiting a dispensary. This new technology is enabling people with disabilities to have access to life-changing medicine.[14] As the medical benefits are studied more, more dispensaries are moving towards disability-friendliness.[15] However, the ability to receive medicine without leaving the house is incredibly appealing to those with disabilities as they do not need to worry about transportation, mobility, or whether the physical building of the dispensary is accessible. Unfortunately, this is not an area many researchers have concerned themselves with, so there is little information about disabled consumers and their views on the matter. However, it is clear, from social media and personal testimony found on these websites and apps, that disabled customers are benefiting from this technology. Many patients and consumers congregate in closed and secret internet forums and Facebook groups to discuss the benefits and risks of cannabis and purchasing it as well. Although impossible to cite a group without the reader having access to said forum, it is clear from the testimonies available that disabled consumers are thriving with access and availability. The availability of marijuana on the internet (whether illegal or legal) is allowing new patients to discover for themselves whether cannabis can be an effective treatment. This raises concerns for the effect on physicians and the medical community. As more and more people decide for themselves, especially in states with recreational availability, physicians are left out of the conversation and this concerns many healthcare providers.

[1] See generally, www.theamsterdamcompany.com; www.leafedin.com; www.leafly.com.

[2] See, e.g., www.potlala.com.

[3]See U.S. Postal Service, Pub. No. 52, Hazardous, Perishable, and Restricted Material § 453.12–13 (2019); see also Garyn Angel, High Tech Is Powerfully Influencing the Future of the Cannabis Industry, GreenEntrepreneur (Nov. 28, 2018) https://www.greenentrepreneur.com/article/323868.

[4] See, e.g., Gabe Fine, BBB Issues Warning About Online Marijuana Retailer Scams, Westworld (June 21, 2017) https://www.westword.com/marijuana/better-business-bureau-issues-warning-about-online-marijuana-retailer-scams-9178816.

[5] London Ryynanen England, Comment, Not to Be Blunt, but Consumers Demand Weed with Their Pizza: Model Legislation for Marijuana Courier and Home Delivery Services, 20 S.M.U. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev. 343, 343 (2017).

[6] Uber, GrubHub, Instacart

[7] England, supra note 5, at 343-44.

[8] Angel, supra note 3.

[9] Julie R. Thompson, The Surprising Truth About Why Alcohol Websites Make You Enter Your Age, Huffington Post (July 21, 2017), https://www.huffpost.com/entry/liquor-website-age verification_n_59c3b549e4b06f93538cdd18.

[10] Angel, supra note 3.

[11] Angel, supra note 3.

[12] Angel, supra note 3.

[13] See Home, WheresWeed, www.wheresweed.com.

[14] Lisa Rough, How to Make Your Cannabis Dispensary More Disability Friendly, Leafly (Aug. 16, 2017), https://www.leafly.com/news/industry/how-to-make-marijuana-dispensaries-disability-friendly.

[15] Id.

image source: https://myflorida420.com/medical-marijuana-can-spark-budding-cannabis-industry/weedkeyboard/

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