| Lansing State Journal
Lansing residents can have nearly anything delivered to their front doors, from pizza and sushi rolls to BBQ, fresh produce or cleaning supplies and during the pandemic, demand for delivery only rose.
Now, multiple marijuana retailers in the city are looking to offer home delivery of cannabis products, with several hoping to launch the service over the coming weeks and months.
Gage Cannabis, Homegrown Cannabis Co., Cannaisseur Provisioning Center, Pure Options and both Skymint locations in Lansing have received state approval to offer home delivery, according to the state’s Mariuana Regulatory Agency.
However, delivering cannabis presents a different set of security, logistical and even financial challenges than delivering lunch.
“Unlike a pizza place, there’s a little bit more to it,” said Micah Siegal, general counsel for Pure Options. “You have to maintain separate insurance. You have to maintain several employees that are dedicated to just the delivery business vertical.”
He said it’s “almost a business within a business” and has “significant costs associated with it.”
“We anticipate that there’s going to be a great deal of interest,” Siegal said.
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But both Siegal and Matthew Markman, general manager of the Gage location in Lansing, said the potential popularity of marijuana delivery is undetermined.
“At this point, it’s an unknown,” Markman said. “We do run delivery in our southeast Michigan locations and it’s a relatively steady business.”
Gage officials declined to characterize the volume of deliveries, however.
Markman said “a huge reason to do delivery” is to serve customers with mobility issues.
“There are patients who use this as medicine, and not everyone has the ability or the mobility to get out and get this medicine,” he said. “So just being able to offer that alone negates the worry of it being busy or not.”
Pure Options hopes to begin deliveries within the next six months.
Gage plans to start later this month.
“Fortunately for us, Lansing is a city that allows delivery services as long as we follow a set of rules and follow all COVID procedures,” said Markman.
But Markman, like Siegal, noted the high standards retailers must meet to offer home delivery.
For instance, stores must be able to track where drivers are at all times. And drivers must follow a predetermined route from the store to the drop-off location, which must be a verified address.
“They’re given a specific list of directions they have to follow,” Markman said. “And they’re not allowed to deviate from these directions.”
Gage will use its own drivers and unmarked vehicles for delivery.
The vehicles themselves will be equipped with both interior and exterior cameras, while the product will be held in a locked vault.
“It’s not accessible until it reaches its destination,” he said.
Additionally, customers themselves are vetted by the company through a process Markman compared to that of Airbnb.
Drivers “have to be able to prove you are who you are and that you don’t pose an imminent danger to anyone,” he said.
“There are fail-safes built in,” he said.
Gage is also working out how much product drivers will carry at one time, attempting to find a balance between minimizing trips and keeping the in-vehicle volume at a safe level.
“We would never send a driver around with 10 deliveries stocked in the safe and send them into the world,” Markman said. “Because that’s not service-conducive and it’s not safety-conducive.”
“We’ve got to balance being able to get product into people’s hands in a timely fashion, but also make sure we’re negating any unnecessary risk,” he said.
Contact business reporter Christian Martinez at [email protected] or (517) 267-1342. Follow him on Twitter at @ChristianM_CA.