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How Cannabis Delivery Business Models are Changing the Industry

Even when society returns to “normal” following the COVID-19 outbreak, these services could very likely be more integral than in-store transactions.

Jason SanderJason Sander · Aug. 24, 2020 · 6 min read
How Cannabis Delivery Business Models are Changing the Industry

Cannabis delivery and curbside pickup models are increasingly becoming a huge part of the industry. Even when society returns to “normal” following the COVID-19 outbreak, these services could very likely be more integral than in-store transactions. Read on as we discuss the impact cannabis delivery is having, as well as offering up our best practices for delivery services.

How these Cannabis Services Became Essential

Back when the COVID-19 outbreak caused nationwide lockdowns, cannabis dispensaries, and retail locations were deemed essential. This varies state to state but tends to hold valid even months later. We won’t get into the irony and hypocrisy of cannabis being federally illegal here, but be sure to read our article on black markets for more coverage of this absurdity. Cannabis dispensaries were treated similarly to pharmacies in most states - with protocols observing social distancing, as well as mask and glove-wearing in place. Naturally, delivery and curbside pickup play a huge role in social distancing, sparking a massive uptick in these services that might stay the same even after the pandemic slows down - whenever that might finally be.

Cannabis Tech: Bigger Than We Expected

Back when our original site first went live in April, we said we thought that sectors within the cannabis industry, like delivery app developers, would thrive during this uncertain time. This will only continue to be accurate, and it’s bigger than we even expected. Even before the pandemic hit, retailers, processors, and growers required software that could help them maintain compliance with complex regulations as well as to deliver exceptional service to their customers. If this software could one day consolidate and converge, this could be a game-changer.

For medical dispensaries and cannabis retailers, they are still in need of software that can help businesses with displaying menus, facilitating online ordering while seamlessly integrating that with the option for delivery (in states where it’s allowed) and so on. And of course, the tech that can also assist with complex compliance issues, based on individual states and locations, is still something that is highly needed. In an era of digital coverage, online retail, and the ability to get everything delivered to our doorstep - it is only a matter of time before we see this kind of technology made available to cannabis businesses. And the convenience factor is likely here to stay, as COVID-19 shifts business models in all industries.

‘Pandemic Proof’ Real Estate

One sector we didn’t exactly see thriving within the cannabis industry is real estate. It is no secret that there is a looming eviction crisis coming, and millions of Americans are facing the harsh reality of potentially losing their apartments and homes. Many restaurants and bars have also been forced to close their doors due to the pandemic. Despite this sad reality, landlords who rent to businesses operating within the cannabis industry are a good business bet and are being paid on time in full. This pandemic proof real estate is something that many experts in that industry didn’t even predict. Those who own properties that house cultivation warehouses, processing facilities, extraction labs as well as of course dispensaries and retail locations all have the potential to not only survive the pandemic but profit from it.

This is all thanks to legal cannabis. It’s no surprise to those of us who have been working closely within the legal cannabis industry for years now, but the mainstream is taking notice more than ever before. This has led to cannabis legalization and compliance talks becoming huge hot button issues as the 2020 election cycle is upcoming. Moreover, state tax revenues are forecasting a nationwide loss of $121 billion in 2020 and 2021 - prompting many to offer up legalizing essential cannabis as a possible solution.


Who Doesn’t Like Delivery?

Of course, delivery services aren’t a new thing. In fact, historians believe that the first food delivery dates back to 1768 in Korea. Naengmyeon, or cold noodles, was the first recorded food delivered. No matter what you are getting delivered, it is almost always better than getting ready, driving to a location, and perhaps sitting in traffic before pulling into the parking lot. And then, of course, dealing with potentially long lines when you finally arrive at your destination. In most cases, it’s better to be in the comfort of your own home, order online, and wait for your friendly delivery driver to bring your deliciousness to you.

However, legal cannabis delivery services are relatively new, and so are the business models that surround them. Remaining compliant with state and local laws, such as how much cannabis and what forms of cannabis a driver is allowed to possess at a time, GPS tracking, seed-to-sale, and so on - continue to be confusing and complicated. And there is no end to this complexity in-sight. In fact, it is likely to get even more confusing as we further peel back the deeply entrenched layers of cannabis prohibition.

Additionally, lenders are also feeling the coronavirus crunch now, with millions of people out of work and unable to pay loans, deferring on credit cards, and possibly even defaulting on their mortgages. Perfectly legitimate businesses operating within the legal cannabis industry notoriously get the cold shoulder from financial institutions and lenders due to federal illegality. And this COVID-19 related hit to the banks and lenders can make it even harder for cannabis businesses to obtain loans and establish accounts. Despite this, there are still many entrepreneurs interested in starting their own cannabis delivery services. And why not? It’s a great time to do so. Here are our best practices for cannabis delivery - for the location, the drivers, and what consumers should do, too.

Cannabis Delivery Best Practices

One of the principles that HashDash was founded on is that we should all try to support each other while building a community around cannabis. The apparent include being kind, respectful, and professionals - as well as always consuming responsibility. Excellent customer service should go without saying in any industry. It’s also crucial that we hold ourselves accountable as consumers, as well as doing so for our favorite spots. Here are some other tips for delivery best practices.

  • For dispensary and retail location dispatchers, be sure to teach your drivers how to use their apps. They should know how to accept customer orders, map out their delivery routes precisely as well as how to process transactions without using paper. This is imperative for everyone’s success.
  • Drivers should also understand the delivery protocol associated with the software and app that you use. Your software should scan the order receipt and add it to their queue and then map out their fastest suggested route and provide an estimated timeframe. The protocol also includes verifying age, completing the sale in the app, and uploading and necessary documentation.
  • One of the most significant stresses involved with the legal cannabis industry is dealing with compliance. Whether you are a dispensary owner, a driver, or a consumer - it makes everyone’s lives easier if you all fully understand the state and local laws in your area. This can include: drivers keeping a log, track their GPS, keep all cannabis products in a locked trunk or box, and return to their location if they are out for more than 30 minutes, without making deliveries. And of course, under no circumstances should any driver consume cannabis while on duty.
  • Ensure drivers know how to deal with police during traffic stops. It’s natural for cannabis consumers to be nervous around cops - we’ve been unjustly fined, targeted, and arrested for possessing the plant for many years! However, as long as your location is following the law, there is nothing to worry about. If drivers interact poorly with law enforcement, this could negatively reflect a dispensary. Drivers should be polite, show their license, registration, and proof of insurance, and remain calm. Police might also ask cannabis delivery drivers for their destination and inventory logs, delivery requests, and so on.
  • As a consumer, always be sure to tip your delivery drivers well. Wear a mask and stay socially distanced if you have to venture outside of your home to meet them. If they are running late, or get lost on their first trip to you, try to give them the benefit of the doubt. This unprecedented time of COVID-19 is stressful for just about everyone. Be kind, and it will benefit you as a consumer in the end - trust us!

HashDash - Building Community and Educating Tomorrow’s Cannabis Consumer

We hope you found value in our cannabis delivery article. Be sure to check back right here to our blog often, because we post fresh content every single week! If you like our blog, you’ll definitely want to connect with us on social media: @hashdash.com on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

HashDash is compiling an entire information database that will continue to shed light on all aspects of the legal cannabis industry, as well as where to find the best dispensaries in your area. Be sure to sign up for HashDash to discover your cannabis matches. As always, thanks for reading, and happy, responsible cannabis consuming!

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.




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