Modern culture is so used to online shopping and home delivery that people have become accustomed to getting virtually anything they want delivered right to their doors. While it is true that most things we buy online can be delivered, there are a few exceptions. Take cannabis. Delivering it directly to customer homes is not as easy as it seems.
For starters, only six of the eighteen states that allow recreational use have also approved home delivery. Likewise, just seven of the thirty-eight states with medical cannabis programs allow delivery. That means home delivery is not available nationwide; you can only get it in a small number of cannabis friendly states.
There are also rules that have to be followed. For example, the Beehive Farmacy in Salt Lake City, Utah says that delivery services in that state can only make deliveries to patients at the residential addresses listed in the state’s medical cannabis database. In addition, packages cannot be left on front porches or with family members. They must be hand-delivered to the patient.
Different Delivery Models
For the processor or dispensary, the first choice to be made is that of the delivery model. A local dispensary may choose to hire its own delivery drivers. They would pay drivers a salary and, if they used their own vehicles, a stipend to cover fuel and wear and tear. Drivers would keep any tips they earned.
Another option is to hire company drivers but supply the vehicles and gas. This is the more expensive option, but it gives dispensary owners more control. It also eliminates the question of independent contractor versus employee. This model clearly makes drivers employees on the payroll.
Still another option is a contract with a delivery company similar to Grubhub or Instacart. Contracting delivery services completely absolves the dispensary or processor of all requirements of hiring and maintaining a delivery workforce. On the downside, the extra delivery charges may dissuade customers from choosing delivery.
The Cash Problem
For the time being, the biggest challenge for cannabis home delivery is the cash problem. Cannabis is still primarily a cash-and-carry business due to a reluctance among banks to serve cannabis businesses. Banks do not want to get involved out of fear of repercussions from Washington.
This dictates that nearly all cannabis transactions are cash-based. By default, this means delivery drivers are forced to deal in cash. Just five or six deliveries can mean drivers are carrying a lot of cash that they have to get back to the office safely and securely. It is risky business to say the least.
Even if everything else involved in delivery goes smoothly, processors and dispensaries are constantly having to juggle scheduling. For the independent dispensary that decides to hire its own drivers, there is always the risk that a driver will not show up for work. In such a case, scheduled deliveries are inevitably delayed. That means unhappy customers.
Contracted services are less likely to suffer from scheduling conflicts due to the nature of their operations. Nonetheless, a shortage of drivers could mean that a contractor cannot always provide immediate delivery. Next hour and same day delivery might be available today, but orders placed tomorrow might take an extra day to arrive.
Chances are that cannabis home delivery will be mature and reliable ten years from now. For now, though, it is still in its infancy. The industry is working out the kinks in hopes of making home delivery as commonplace as pizza delivery. But until those kinks are ironed out, cut your dispensary some slack. Home delivery isn’t as easy as it seems.