From your phone to your door, buying marijuana just got easier


From Uber to Birchbox, on-demand and subscription delivery startups have grown rapidly in the past few years—and the medical marijuana industry is taking note.

Medical cannabis delivery startups began cropping up in San Francisco last year, in a state that is posting between $700 million and $1.3 billion in marijuana sales annually, according to the California Board of Equalization, which administers taxes on alcohol, tobacco and fuel. These services allow patients to cut out onerous trips to the dispensary, which can be time-consuming and confusing for first-time buyers.

“The dispensaries do a really good job of appealing to a particular demographic—younger male, usually white customer,” said Dane Pieri, co-founder and chief executive of Marvina, a marijuana box delivery startup that launched in November 2014. “The whole process for someone who’s uncomfortable or unknowledgeable can make them feel marginalized.”
Starting at $95 a month—though you can request a sampler box for $30—Marvina hand delivers an assortment of cannabis strains to your door from a local boutique dispensary. Each box comes with a detailed tasting note to provide guidance for the customer.

Pieri compared the service to a wine club, saying his primary customers are those, “who enjoy cannabis, but it’s not the most important thing in their life, it doesn’t define them.”

He added that going to dispensaries means having to distinguish among a wide variety of strains. Pieri said Marvina sets “a high minimum bar for quality,” taking the guessing out of buying medical marijuana.

“It’s kind of like going to Whole Foods,” Pieri said. “You don’t have to think about the quality of what you’re buying.”

See also: Marijuana moms shatter the grass ceiling

Marvina currently delivers to just the Bay Area, but Pieri says he has plans for national expansion.

Another monthly subscription service, Potbox, launched Wednesday, and focuses on providing a “farm-to-table” experience.

“If you were a patient right now and you go into a dispensary that says it sells [cannabis strain] OG Kush, you have no way of knowing whether it actually is, or where they grow it or how they grow it,” said Potbox co-founder and chief executive Austin Heap. “We oversee the entire process to make sure it meets our standards. We give people the choice of what they’re putting in their body.”

Potbox boxes sell for $149.95 a month, and give customers a choice of sativa, which provides a cerebral experience, the more heavy-bodied indica or a hybrid of strains. The company then curates two strains, 4 grams each, based on your preference, along with two 1-gram pre-rolled joints.

Heap says the company focuses on providing “ethical cannabis”, meaning product grown on farms that pay fair wages and use organic growing processes without chemicals or pesticides.

“It’s about being a responsible member of the cannabis industry,” Heap said. “We want to set high standards for the industry as it is emerging.”

Heap said Potbox’s launch in San Francisco and Los Angeles doubled his expectations, and he has been receiving requests for the company’s services from medical and recreational users in 47 states and the District of Columbia. (No requests have come in from Montana, North Dakota or South Dakota.)
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use so far, while recreational marijuana has been legalized in Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and the District of Columbia.

Also helping provide the Bay Area with convenient Kush service is Eaze, a mobile app for on-demand medical marijuana delivery.

Eaze launched in July 2014 and has since raised more than $10 million in funding, including investments from Casa Verde Capital, the venture-capital firm owned by Calvin Broadus, Jr. aka Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion.

Once their medical marijuana eligibility is uploaded and verified, users can order products on their phone, much like ordering a car on Uber. A driver is dispatched and delivers your order within minutes, with no tip required. Customers and drivers rate each other on a five-star scale after each delivery.

Product pricing on Eaze currently ranges from $12 to $65 per item.

“The process of acquiring medical marijuana can be slow, cumbersome and unpredictable,” Eaze founder and chief executive Keith McCarty said in the news release on the company’s launch. “Eaze’s technology automates all of that so each patient can have a consistent, comfortable experience—and can focus on getting better.”





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