Weed on wheels: Medical marijuana delivery services triple in three years

By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, July 13, 2014 20:57 EDT
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With more states legalizing medical marijuana, dispensaries are making it easier for their customers to get their pot  by adding home delivery to their list of services.

A boon to customers who don’t have to leave the house, the delivery model allows dispensaries to cut costs by closing brick and mortar locations and centralizing distribution at a time when cities are attempting to limit the number of storefront pot shops.

As reported by the LA Times, medical marijuana delivery services have nearly tripled in three years, growing from 877 to 2,617, according to Weedmaps, an online directory for pot businesses.

Dealers see exponential growth since many of their customers are unaware that home delivery is available.

“I still believe 75% of marijuana patients don’t know delivery is a thing,” said Speed Weed owner A.J. Gentile. “It’s safer to engage this way. You don’t have to go to a sketchy dispensary. That’s why we get so many female customers.”

Over 200 dipensaries have closed in the Los Angeles  area since voters approved Proposition D last year, which allowed dispensaries and their landlords to be prosecuted if the shops are not properly registered or if they fail to operate a legal distance from public parks, schools, child-care centers and other designated facilities.

With stores closing, weed dealers turned to home delivery to keep their businesses thriving.

“It’s the balloon theory,” explained Jeff Raber, founder and president of the Werc Shop in Pasadena, a cannabis testing lab. “They think taking down all the dispensaries will make it go away. But it’s not going away. It’s going to morph into something else.”

In California, state medical marijuana laws don’t currently address delivery services.

The law defines a marijuana business as including “any vehicle” used to distribute marijuana, but it is generally aimed at using zoning regulations to limit the number of storefront dispensaries.

Mark Kleiman, a drug policy expert at the UCLA, said cities should consider supporting the business model thereby  eliminating storefront dispensaries.

“Storefronts are a pain,” Kleiman explained. “Do you want a weed store in your neighborhood?”

L.A.-based Speed weed currently employs up to 25 drivers dispatched out of several offices allowing for quick deliveries.

Prior to founding the company, owner Gentile studied operation manuals for Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s Pizza and FedEx, learning the ins and outs of distribution as well as security, limiting the amount of marijuana or cash a driver may carry.

Gentile, who doesn’t operate any storefronts, hopes to one day sell franchises wherever medical marijuana is allowed.

Active in the growing cannabis investment community, Gentile also one day hopes top list his company on a stock exchange.

[man trading marijuana on Shutterstock]

Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni
Tom Boggioni is based in the quaint seaside community of Pacific Beach in less quaint San Diego. He writes about politics, media, culture, and other annoyances. Mostly he spends his days at the beach gazing at the horizon waiting for the end of the world, or the sun to go down. Whichever comes first.
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