The OLCC rulemaking process continues after a public hearing on October 25 and the close of the public comment period on October 31. You can read our prior coverage here, here and here, and you can read the proposed rules here. The public hearing lasted about 35 minutes and a hot topic was whether retailers may continue to deliver medical and recreational marijuana to customers and patients through a drive-up window or whether the OLCC will kill drive-thru delivery.
Here’s the history. OAR-025-1300(g) prohibits licensees from selling marijuana items through a drive-up or walk-up window. But in December 2021 the COVID-19 pandemic caused the OLCC to adopt temporary rules that permitted delivering marijuana items to a person in the parking lot of the store, a person at the front entrance of the store, or a person at a walk-up or drive-thru window of the store. So for nearly two years, retailers, patients, and customers have become accustomed to having the option of using a drive-thru to deliver marijuana (where not otherwise prohibited by a local ordinance).
Now that the pandemic appears to be winding down, the OLCC appears poised to reinstate the former rule, in part, by forbidding drive-thru delivery and allowing walk-up window delivery. Here’s what the new rule may say: A license may not sell any marijuana item through a drive-up or walk-up window. Proposed OAR 845-025-1300.
At the same time, the OLCC appears willing to allow delivery to persons who are on-site but outside of the store, such as the parking lot or front entrance, within 150 feet of the boundary of the retail licensee’s licensed premises. Proposed OAR 845-025-2885.
Numerous commenters pointed out the inconsistency of these proposed rules. To summarize in plain language what may happen: the OLCC will let you buy weed at a walk-up window; the OLCC will let you buy weed in the parking lot of the dispensary; but the OLCC would not let you buy weed at a drive-thru window.
Commenters at the hearing levied two principle concerns. The first was accessibility. The rule negatively impacts persons with mobility issues and those who are immunocompromised. I suppose one rejoinder to this concern is something like, “well those persons may wait in their vehicle and have marijuana items delivered to them in the parking lot.” But that possible rejoinder leads directly to the second concern: safety. Numerous persons testified that a drive-thru is safer for customers and dispensary employees than having customers wait in parking lots cash-in-hand for a dispensary employees to wander out with marijuana, searching for a particular vehicle. The safety concern makes a lot of sense given the number of robberies occurring at dispensaries. One commenter pointed out that securing a drive-thru is much easier than an entire parking lot.
A commercial landlord in Portland testified that from its perspective a designated drive-thru is much more desirable than having marijuana delivered at random locations throughout the parking lot of a property. Particularly, when other businesses may use the parking lot. This person also testified drive-thru is simply better for the neighborhood than having marijuana sold to parked cars sitting in a lot. (Makes sense!) This landlord also leases commercial property to Fred Meyer, which provides prescription medicine through a drive-thru, and testified that providing medical marijuana is no different from its perspective.
Accessibility and safety are keys to a successful Oregon marijuana industry. These kind of on-the-ground common-sense perspectives are a key reason why the OLCC holds public hearings on proposed rules and accepts written comments. Let’s hope the OLCC takes these concerns to heart and makes drive-thru delivery of marijuana items a permanent, permissible delivery method and does not kill drive-thru delivery.