Marijuana businesses pivot quickly to meet demand for home deliveries amid coronavirus worries

home deliveries

Cannabis companies that provide delivery services – including delivery operators and retailers – are seeing a deluge of orders as customers stock up on marijuana products in the wake of coronavirus pandemic concerns.

At the same time, these companies are putting into place unprecedented measures to ensure their delivery drivers and customers stay healthy, ranging from taking employees’ temperatures to providing them with latex gloves and alcohol-based disinfectants.

In addition, states including Massachusetts, Michigan, New York and Illinois are taking steps to encourage home delivery of cannabis products as well as to give customers the option of curbside pickup.

Policies cannabis delivery services and retailers have implemented include:

  • Providing drivers with an alcohol-based disinfectant solution and latex gloves and instructing them to sanitize their hands between deliveries and wipe down commonly touched items and surfaces.
  • Taking employees’ temperatures at the beginning of their shifts.
  • Cleaning off phones and terminals.
  • Implementing a no-touch ID verification process in stores and when making deliveries.
  • Instructing employees who have been sick or been around someone who is not well to stay home.

Meanwhile, cannabis retailers are scrambling to remove obstacles that might inhibit deliveries.

In California, for example, retailers are petitioning the Bureau of Cannabis Control to lift the requirement that customers who have cannabis delivered must sign to verify they received their orders, said Elizabeth Ashford, senior director of corporate communications at California-based cannabis delivery company Eaze.

Delivery spike in the past few days

On Sunday, Eaze saw a 34% increase in the number of customers signing up for its service as well as a surge in the size of orders, Ashford said, noting consumer preference has shifted toward edibles.

Also in California, Driven Deliveries has seen a nearly 20% increase in transactions and a 10% rise in order value since coronavirus was discovered in the state, CEO Christian Schenk said.

“We have had an increase in first-time customers of 6% this week alone, which is almost double our normal new customer performance,” Schenk said.

Oakland, California-based retailer Harborside is adding two more vehicles to its fleet to keep up with demand for cannabis delivery, said Pedro Fonseca, general manager of the company’s stores.

Harborside plans to hire up to three new delivery drivers and shift some workers from its sales staff into that role. Flower still accounts for the majority of Harborside’s sales, Fonseca said.

Harborside is providing all employees with masks, hand sanitizer and gloves. The company also is monitoring the number of people in the store.

“If we find we have more than 100, we’ll have them line up outside,” Fonseca noted.

San Francisco cannabis delivery platform Sava saw an uptick in orders March 11 and then a big spike March 13, said Amanda Denz, the company’s co-founder and chief marketing officer.

Denz estimates daily sales are up to four times what they normally are and that the company, which carries 400 SKUs from various brands, is starting to run out of products.

Goods that Sava’s customers are purchasing most often include sleep aids such as tinctures and edibles.

Cloverdale, California-based Garden Society, which delivers its own brand of products to customers, is going through inventory quickly, said Karli Warner, the company’s co-founder. Many customers are ordering mini-pre-rolls that come 10 to a pack.

“People are looking for smaller sizes so they’re not passing them around,” Warner said.

Delivery rule shifts

Tempe, Arizona-based digital payment and compliance platform Alt Thirty Six is waiving all transaction fees for delivery purchases for new and existing merchants until April 20.

In Massachusetts, medical marijuana treatment centers are permitted to expand their delivery service and to remind patients that they are allowed to acquire up to a 60-day supply of medical-grade marijuana.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Monday that permits all licensed marijuana retailers to provide home delivery and curbside pickup of products.

Before Whitmer signed the order, retailers had to be licensed for delivery, and sales had to be conducted inside the store.

The New York Department of Health is permitting registered organizations that have previous approval to deliver medical marijuana to the homes of registered patients and designated caregivers through April 16 without written approval.

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