It’s the intersection of tech and pot. As more and more states legalize marijuana – both recreational and medicinal – the opportunity to cash in is blowing up. And ground zero is right here in the Bay Area.
Keith McCarty is CEO and founder of mobile app Eaze – a marijuana delivery service in the Bay Area also dubbed as “Uber for medical marijuana.” Customers register with their California medical marijuana identification card and then pick a product. They can even track its ETA on the app, all the way until it’s delivered to their doorstep.
“On average the delivery time in San Francisco is about 10 minutes,” McCarty said.
McCarty was employee number four at Yammer – a social networking service used by Fortune 500 companies which was bought by Microsoft for $1.2 billion. Since the acquisition, McCarty set his sight on the next lucrative business.
“We want to get in right now so when this starts to evolve and take off and regulatory landscape continues to open up we’ll be best positioned,” he said.
Eaze officially launched in July, partnering with San Francisco’s largest dispensary Sparc to make its first deliveries. Eaze recently secured $1.5 million in investments. And in the last few weeks, there’s more competition.
Apothecarium, a medical marijuana dispensary in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood, just launched its delivery service after partnering with mobile app Meadow, which partners with multiple dispensaries. Meadow co-founder David Hua says the most important thing is following the law.
Both companies stress the drivers are employed by the dispensaries and that they just provide the technology.
“Tech often times skirts some of these things - if you look at Airbnb or Uber - this is not that space to do that in,” Hua said.
Apothecarium general manager Chase Chambers says business is booming and he believes Meadow’s app will only fuel the growth.
“Delivery is something our members have been asking for ever since we opened the door and it just didn’t seem feasible,” Chambers said. “But I think with tech innovation and companies like Meadow we’re able to reach the younger generation.”
Chambers adds using this technology will boost another demographic -- those who have a harder time physically getting the product they need: the elderly.
Banks don’t deal with this industry, one still deemed illegal by the federal authorities, which means this is a cash-only business.
McCarty says security mechanisms are built into the system: it isn’t just the recipient who tracks ETA, the dispensaries can also track their drivers.
“So if the driver starts to fall behind that delivery ETA it’ll be flagged and they can call the driver,” he said.
The group says this is the lead up to hitting it big in this “green rush.”
“I think there’s plenty of room for everybody – this is a business or industry that’s at $1.8 billion -- it’s going to be at $10.2 in the next 4 to 5 years,” Hua said. “Everyone’s going to be ordering their carrots and ordering their cannabis ... It's the same thing.”