‘Uber-Like’ Apps Have Yet to Take Off, But Cannabis Delivery Demand Persists

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So far, the delivery service sector of the cannabis industry has not been able to put the rubber to the road. A few entrepreneurs have staked out claims for marijuana delivery apps that get the “Uber-like” comparison that is so en vogue these days. However, to protect the sizable investment required to back such a mobile marijuana delivery enterprise, startups like Winterlife have closed to refocus and come up with a new strategy, according to its website.

Perhaps the most well-organized service, at least in appearance, is Canary, who has been remaining hopeful, according to its site, for a launch in 2014. Still, they have not launched and become the service they aspire to be. Canary’s website promises a sleek looking app with a huge selection of strains and the possibility of delivery 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Laws and regulations are more lax for medical marijuana delivery service apps, such as Eaze but Cy Scott of Leafly told Alyssa Bereznak in a Yahoo! Tech article that he does not know if weed delivery apps can survive on medical marijuana markets alone. The article concludes that it could be a while before recreational marijuana delivery apps start to see the light of day, at least in the way where customers can openly order and pay for marijuana to be delivered through the app that will satisfy local laws. For instance, the way Colorado’s Amendment 64 is written, marijuana may only be sold in controlled access areas, but individuals over 21 years old may transfer up to an ounce between each other, “without remuneration.”

While the big cannabis delivery app services are stuck on the sidelines, waiting for some sort of green light, or at least a caution flag from regulators to get moving, many entrepreneurs in the spirit of the Old West have taken to the streets to provide services on their own, using their own vehicles and advertising through existing online marketplace channels like Craigslist. The Colorado Springs Independent addressed the phenomenon of a medical marijuana delivery company and highlighted that entrepreneurs will find a way if there is a loophole in the law.

What that means is that by muddying the waters a little bit, marijuana delivery services that offer up to an ounce of free marijuana in exchange for a donation have sprung up all over town. People seeking marijuana can find a service near them on Craigslist, place a call or text, and have pot delivered to their door or prearranged public meet-up spot (it is Craigslist, after all).

As Lt. Mark Comte of the Colorado Springs Metro Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence Division told the Independent, “If I show up at your house with less than an ounce of marijuana, I’m 21, you’re 21, and I say, ‘Hey dude, it cost me 50 bucks in gas to get over here,’ and you give me 50 bucks for my gas, there’s nothing illegal.” In essence, loopholes are meant to be exploited.

Still, that does not mean that entrepreneurs should go charging full steam ahead into this foggy gray area. Perhaps the donation loophole is legitimate, as Comte suggested. Perhaps marijuana delivery is just a low priority for law enforcement right now, although still illegal as noted by Bereznak. Perhaps the next big story about a crackdown on marijuana to remind us the specter of the DEA still looms over the industry will fall upon the Craigslist cannabis couriers.

Investors can hope that rather than a crackdown, there is some sort of release on the delivery sector. Marijuana regulators should recognize the demand for marijuana delivery and that it is being filled by opportunists, like it always has, through clandestine channels. If marijuana is being legalized, then it makes sense to allow it to be delivered so that apps like Canary can take off, or it should just be downright outlawed so there is no gray area. But it is not like making something illegal stops people from doing it. What is there to lose with marijuana delivery?

Matt Berg is a writer from Northwest Denver. Matt writes on a range of topics including science, music, motorcycles, politics, sports and more. He is always looking for adventure and his next story to tell. Connect with Matt on Twitter: @tomjoad187.

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