Medical marijuana served at your doorstep
It didn’t take long for the genie to get out of this bottle. With Washington and Colorado having legalized both medical and recreational marijuana, there’s a race to see who can best capture on-demand consumer services for the cash crop. While college students Josiah Tullis and Megh Vakharia are getting their time in the spotlight for the eventual launch of their Canary iPhone app that will deliver medical marijuana to patients in Washington state, it hasn’t phased founder and CEO of EAZE, Keith McCarty, one bit.
“It’s about being disruptive,” said McCarty, and the market for medical and recreational marijuana is fast moving towards expected sales of $8 billion by 2018.
McCarty’s brand new entry into the medical cannabis delivery service is his new mobile app, EAZE, which launched today in San Francisco, with iOS users getting first crack at it (and with Android and browser-based coming on board soon after). California hasn’t yet legalized marijuana for recreational use but was the first to do so for medical back in 1996. McCarty has already inked various relationships with a number of medical pot dispensaries (there are more than sixty alone) in San Francisco. While McCarty first plans to test the SF market, assuming all goes well, he will rapidly expand throughout California, and eventually those states that have already legalized medical and/or recreational pot, including Washington and Colorado.
EAZE wants to disrupt the medical cannabis business
“The beauty of EAZE is the convenience it provides for the medical marijuana patient,” McCarty said. The EAZE app works this way: Once you’ve downloaded it, you must first register yourself. You then sign up, completing all necessary legal requirements. A simple 3-touch ordering process defaults to the most popular strains available, including an option for the size of your order. EAZE will automatically pinpoint a user’s location. The user confirms, views the estimated delivery time and submits their order.
One of the more nifty add-ons is the app’s use of Geo-location technology and integrating real-time countdown (using Google Maps), which will provide the user with an accurate ETA for delivery. The user can text or call the driver if needed.
Now on-demand transportation service companies like Uber and Lyft advertise how drivers can make up to $35 an hour. The problem remains though that drivers don’t know where their passengers want to go until they’ve picked them up. McCarty’s model is based similar to a pizza delivery service, where the driver only has to drive to one location to drop off their order. With EAZE, McCarty’s team can easily queue up a driver’s delivery route, providing them with a constant flow of new deliveries. McCarty adds “the beauty of marijuana is that it’s not perishable.”
At launch time, McCarty says caregivers will make $20 per delivery. But using EAZE’s proprietary technology, McCarty easily expects caregivers in a 7×7 city to manage up to 60 deliveries in a day, making potential earnings more lucrative.
When a driver starts their shift they will get a kit provided by EAZE that includes up to eight ounces of fresh green buds. McCarty says EAZE will start out with six different strains to choose from at launch but those will certainly be adjusted as operations continue and demand expands for particular strains. McCarty’s team have developed a backend system called Mission Control, which will assist all drivers with their deliveries and make sure they never run out of medicine. McCarty says his team will conduct background checks on all caregivers making sure they have a valid driver’s license, proper vehicle registration, and insurance.
EAZE promises patients a speedier delivery service
EAZE is bootstrapped and McCarty wouldn’t divulge what he’s spent so far to put his team together. But as the 4th hire at Yammer (purchased by Microsoft back in 2012 for 1.2 billion) McCarty doesn’t appear to be hurting for funds. What matters for McCarty is customer feedback, how well EAZE is being used and how efficient it is at providing the on-demand convenience so important to consumers and patients alike in our “I need it NOW” economy.
The Bay Area marijuana dispensary model remains fragmented, according to McCarty, with a couple of brick and mortar locations (think Harberside in San Jose) dominating the scene. McCarty wants EAZE to become the horizontal layer, where patients don’t have to bother with driving to a dispensary but can get their medicine faster, saving them time and money. As far as how EAZE will be making money, McCarty says a small fee will be charged for the lead-generation services it provides to dispensaries and growers. Canary charges an extra 10 -25% off the base price for delivery, according to a story in Geekwire.
Now Tullis and Vakharia were quick to discover that there are legal restrictions on delivering recreational marijuana in the state of Washington, forcing them to cutback on their original vision as more than just a medical marijuana provider. McCarty is not concerned, however, as he makes it clear that EAZE will operate within the confines of California’s existing medical marijuana laws. In San Francisco, cannabis dispensaries like the Green Cross already provide their own delivery service even though marijuana itself remains classified as a Schedule I drug by the US Government.
I asked Green Cross founder Kevin Reed what his take is on EAZE’s entry into on-demand mobile medical cannabis delivery. While supportive, Reed made clear that until cannabis is legal in the United States, this type of adult-use service is premature.
“It is my view that any organization of 10 or more individuals should abide by city law and become a licensed medical cannabis dispensary, so unless this app is following these regulations in a similar manner to a licensed MCD then this is a dangerous and risky enterprise. I worry that a business of this nature pushes the envelope of acceptance around the definition of caregiver in California’s medical cannabis law, Proposition 215,” Reed said.
McCarty says selling the concept of on-demand mobile delivery to medical cannabis dispensaries wasn’t a hard sell and those who have partnered with EAZE already understand and appreciate the disruptive nature of the technology. For McCarty, the goal is to make EAZE available on every digital platform.