Yes, There Is an ‘Uber for Weed’

In the beginning, there was the Leafly app, which collates information and crowdsourced reviews of something like 650 unique cannabis strains. A Grindr for Weed, if you will. Now, there’s an app that promises...

In the beginning, there was the Leafly app, which collates information and crowdsourced reviews of something like 650 unique cannabis strains. A Grindr for Weed, if you will. Now, there’s an app that promises to deliver cannabis to you on demand. Naturally.

It’s called  Eaze, and it launched in San Francisco this week. The web-based mobile app bills itself the Uber for Weed, and has kicked up a healthy amount of interest, and for good reason: One of Silicon Valley’s CEOs, Keith McCarty, flush with cash after Microsoft bought his company for $1.2 billion, is disrupting an exploding industry that’s unregulated at the state level—venture capital’s wet dream.

Of course, marijuana delivered to your doorstep is nothing new, much like mail, booze, groceries, and pretty much anything else imaginable. Only now that medical marijuana continues being decriminalized at the state level, hundreds of services across the US have surfaced, the vast majority of which are located in California,  according to Weedmaps. So, it was only a matter of time before future-looking marijuana enterprises developed mobile apps to facilitate delivery of their product.

“These ideas get out in our modern technological society, and marijuana being a developing industry, and given the technologies at hand it’s no wonder that there’s interest in app development,” Matt Kumin, a California lawyer with experience in the cannabis sector, told me. “I’ve talked to several different interested groups developing cannabis apps.”

At first I thought Eaze was a Drug Enforcement Administration honey pot operation gone horribly wrong after the media started sniffing around. After all, it’s not much of a stretch to consider that the feds were hoping to suss out marijuana enterprises that aren’t adhering to the  Department of Justice’s eight-point marijuana enforcement guidance. Then you nail everyone involved with drug trafficking and racketeering charges—surely making a DEA agent’s career.

But Eaze representative Caroline Vespi assured me that was not the case. “We’re not affiliated with the government in any way,” she said.

The DEA declined to comment.

We’re not affiliated with the government in any way.

The app is currently operational only in San Francisco, though it’s easy to use and well designed. Optimized for mobile devices, it lets anyone in San Francisco order weed to their doorstep, usually taking about 20 minutes. Eaze basically connects dispensaries with patients—a sort of electronic middle man.

The big innovation Eaze is boasting over its competitors—one of which I found on iTunes in about 10 seconds, and a bunch no longer available on Google’s Play Store—is that it connects anyone with a marijuana prescription to a bunch of dispensaries, not just those operated by a single owner. That’s important because at the moment shopping around various dispensaries requires joining each collective in order to inspect the wares.

But the other features touted by the company aren’t all that revolutionary. Speedy patient verification isn’t a big deal, as it’s already a single, fast phone call away. That’s according to a San Francisco marijuana delivery company owner who identified himself only as Ganesh.

Overall, Ganesh wasn’t too impressed with Eaze. He explained that his website, much like Eaze’s, offers high-res images of bud that’s sale, in addition to online ordering options. And he didn’t like the idea of partnering with them much either, although Eaze has partnered with an undisclosed number of dispensaries in San Francisco.

Still, on the surface Eaze sounds like a cool idea—I mean, it makes weed delivery as easy as ordering a pizza via an app—and also useful for patients, such as those suffering from cancer, who have limited mobility and resources.

It’s worth remembering, though, that like so much in the rapidly growing green industry, there are a number of legal gray areas and bureaucratic red tape that Eaze and others will have to navigate.

Buyers are probably in the clear. When I called the DEA headquarters in Washington, a spokesperson took pains to remind me that the agency focuses on criminal organizations trafficking drugs, not users.

Eaze and its ilk, though, are another story. While the DEA declined to comment on the app, other than pointing me to the DOJ’s memo, I asked a local San Francisco cop about the risks to drivers, even if they’re only carrying the state-mandated maximum of eight ounces (Eaze drivers follow this guideline).

“Technically they’re trafficking and distributing marijuana,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he’s not an authorized SFPD spokesperson. “And ironically, any paperwork they have to validate their delivery, may actually help the officer charge them.”

From what he described, it sounds like being hassled by local cops would really depend on the officer involved.

Ironically, any paperwork they have to validate their delivery, may actually help the officer charge them.

There’s also the problem of having to carry around lots of cold, hard cash, since the vast majority of banks won’t do business with the medical marijuana industry. At worst, drivers are carrying around a maximum of $3,200 in cash—assuming Eaze’s average per 1/8 ounce price of $50—which could potentially result in robberies, in spite of any efforts Eaze makes to prevent them, the cop told me.

And in terms of regulation, possession of marijuana for patients has been decriminalized in California, Kumin, the lawyer, explained.

“Is a delivery necessarily violating state law? No. Is it violating federal law? Yes,” he said. “Typically, regulating cannabis businesses is more of a municipal zoning issue, but there is no clear legal guidance. ”

Despite the hurdles, Eaze is rolling out its plans, looking for more funding from venture capitalists—there are many involved in marijuana investments already—and has aggressive expansion plans, that kick off with a move to Southern California. “Keith [the CEO and founder] is headed down to LA, looking for funding to help the expansion,” Vespi, Eaze’s rep, said. The startup also plans to attempt to get an app onto Apple and Google’s mobile stores.