It all began with Uber. When the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company first launched, what we now consider the modern gig economy was just getting off the ground. Uber’s founders figured they could make the most of their venture by making it available to the public with a mobile app. Their hard work and foresight have laid the foundation for the latest app-driven gig: marijuana delivery.
Success came pretty quickly for Uber and its primary ride-sharing competitor, Lyft. The two were so successful that they gave rise to other app-driven companies including Grub Hub, DoorDash, InstaCart, and dozens more. Given how quickly marijuana has been legalized by dozens of states, it was only a matter of time before home delivery became the thing. And once you have home delivery, you have an instant market for a new app-driven company.
The Legal Ramifications
Looking at marijuana home delivery from a legal perspective is fascinating. Remember that marijuana is still a Schedule I-controlled substance under federal law. That means people cannot cultivate, process, sell, and use it legally in Washington’s eyes. States that have taken the steps to legalize marijuana have done so with an understanding that federal officials are not interested in enforcing the law at this time.
The legal ramifications have pretty much forced any company that wants to offer home delivery to seriously consider going the gig route. Some are undoubtedly looking to hire drivers willing to work as private contractors. Hire them as regular employees on the payroll and companies subject themselves to federal reporting and employment taxes. That opens up a whole can of worms.
Delivery in Medical-Only States
Marijuana delivery is also somewhat different depending on the state a company operates in. Some states, like Utah, only allow marijuana to be used medically. They have tightly controlled the medical cannabis programs in place, programs that do not offer a lot of wiggle room for companies looking to do things their own way.
Medical cannabis delivery in Utah is still in its infancy, according to the Beehive Farmacy medical cannabis dispensary in Salt Lake City. Beehive has a second location in Brigham City. They say that the state legislature approved statewide delivery some time ago. However, it is taking time to get things up and running thanks to Utah’s largely rural environment.
The most important thing to note is that any medical cannabis products delivered to Utah homes must come from licensed Utah cannabis pharmacies. Furthermore, pharmacies can only sell products cultivated and processed in the state.
Delivery in Other States
Some eighteen states have taken the extra step of legalizing recreational marijuana use. In most states, the delivery market obviously offers considerably more opportunities. Companies looking to start app-driven delivery services are keen on those states. That is where the money is right now.
Of course, security is a concern in both medical-only and recreational-use states. Perhaps the risk is higher in the latter because more product is being delivered across a greater service area. At least one company serving the Boston, MA area is concerned enough about security that both drivers and trucks are fully outfitted with cameras.
One way or the other, entrepreneurs are going to find ways to make money in the gig economy. Right now, there appear to be endless opportunities for a variety of home delivery services as the country slowly recovers from COVID. That being the case, it is no surprise that states with medical and recreational marijuana programs are starting to see an influx of companies willing to deliver products right to the home.