On March 2 this year, members of Women Grow from San Diego hosted an interesting panel. It delivered to a crowd of market experts and hopefuls three different viewpoints on the future of marijuana delivery in California. Moderated by Attorney Kimberly Simms, a legal expert on the state’s cannabis laws, they heard from Mike Mattarocchi, founder of Fast and Friendly, Elizabeth Wilhelm, founder of Timely Holistic Care, and Chris Boudreau, CEO of MDelivers.
The panel began by Simms explaining the importance of organizing delivery services cohesively, as doing so would ensure that marijuana delivery in California becomes a viable, legitimate, and crucial part of the state’s medical and recreational industries. She highlighted the fact that legislature must understand that “Business is cannabis and cannabis is business.”
The answers to these questions verify that the future of marijuana delivery in California is bright indeed:
Why is marijuana delivery an important service?
There are low barriers of entry for entrepreneurs to start a cannabis business quickly. This is important, as investors in it do not need building permits, storefronts, or other expensive start-up costs.
There is also the fact that delivery services provide help to patients. It is imperative that all patients have access to their medicine, particularly those underserved and overlooked by storefront dispensaries, as well as those unable to get to them for medical or financial reasons. Those with terminal illnesses or severe pain are most in need of medical cannabis, but most are unable to access it on their own.
What is the potential for expansion, growth and strategy?
Currently, marijuana delivery in California operates under two logistical models. “Bag and Carry” is the most common, and it involves marijuana dispensary in California packaging orders at their premises and then delivering completed orders to patients. The other is a “Mobile Inventory” approach, which is where drivers keep inventory in their vehicles, eliminating the need to drive back and forth to the storefront.
Because drivers have no area limitations, the “mobile inventory” approach shows the most promise for expansion. However, some delivery services would grow without expanding their area base. They would focus primarily on providing the best service, care, and compassionate services to grow their existing customer base. This is the best option for businesses that rely on a single driver.
However, the “Bag and Carry” model has fewer liability risks. It is possible for a dispensary to provide delivery services to an area the size of San Diego, and even expand if it employs a sufficient number of drivers. With GPS tracking and well-paid, intelligent drivers, it is possible to avoid the constant threat of robbery, particularly if delivering exclusively to verified addresses and verified patients.
How would delivery companies manage and screen their employees?
Currently, background checks are not that effective. Most bad drivers and staff members are yet to dirty their records, which are clean at the time of hiring. Companies are implementing more informal interview processes, which allow them to base their hiring decisions on the personalities of prospective employees. They must have an interest in the industry and they must have their wits about them.
Companies invest in good first impressions. First impressions are key to creating repetitive business for drivers. Companies want good drivers and they are willing to promote from within, as the companies are the ones with innovative business ideas and look for employees with a good work ethic. Smaller delivery services do not want more employees, purposefully. They feel patients deserve a more personal driver, one they are familiar with and who understands their needs. They hire a single driver who meets these criteria.
Those delivery services hiring from referrals or Craigslist ads are providing on-the-job sales training to their employees. Delivery drivers must have an extensive understanding of quality salesmanship. Tactics such as complementing customers first, and “the customer is always right,” are highly effective sales techniques that work very well for anyone doing marijuana delivery in California.
How would the delivery industry handle legalities and law enforcement?
Despite the fact that it is legal to carry marijuana in California, police may still confiscate products even with all valid permits and documents. Employees must know the risks and companies must protect them from these dangers. Most drivers carry their compliance documents with them, and products are organized, professional looking, and stored in the trunk of the car. They are nowhere in sight.
Although carrying a state-issued MMIC card is not necessary, ensuring the driver has shown stronger compliance won’t hurt. Companies are also providing quarterly training to ensure all drivers know the products and their uses very well, and it includes legal training on the correct response when police pull them over. Drivers know to be humble, polite, and fully compliant with any officer’s requests.
Can the industry cope with current and future product trends?
Quality will always be the main trend of medical marijuana delivery. Patients do not want or need low-grade weed. People want the best and should take measures to ensure they get it. Entrepreneurs and start-ups should do their market research to stay current with ever-changing trends, and patients have the tools available to find out who offers reputable delivery services and will provide what they need.
Many providers market their services, but there are many smaller brands offering better value to patients. Those with the biggest budgets are not always the best, and although people should consider the advertising impact of a marijuana delivery service, it is more important for them to analyze customer feedback. Companies must define the quality they offer and cater to those in that market.
Vendor relationships will also play a role in the future. As is the case with larger companies, smaller delivery services will have to test their products at laboratories to ensure quality. There will also likely be programs in place for compassionate care cases, where indigent patients will still have access to quality medical marijuana at no cost. Currently, delivery is more of an upper middle class luxury.
However, companies are making strides when it comes to providing these services to lower income individuals, and they are taking their customer reviews very seriously. They are attending events to become leaders in the industry, and they are asking people to provide feedback that improves the services they provide.
It is important for marijuana delivery services in California to take charge of their industry, and they are. They are fixing issues as they arise, because if they fail to do so, the law may just force many of them to operate within the black market. Activism plays a crucial role, and many advocacy groups are working together to create an organized, legal front to cement the future of marijuana delivery in the state.
With California, one of America’s biggest markets, opening up to legalized marijuana market, new business opportunities lay ahead.