As the legal marijuana industry continues to grow, so too does the demand for marijuana deliveries.
While cannabis deliveries are still not allowed in most states where the stuff is legal for adult use, consumers in places like California and Canada can legally buy weed online and have it delivered just like any other package. But will having marijuana delivered to your door be the new normal, or will consumers continue to frequent dispensaries, even where delivery services are offered?
Civilized reached out to nine cannabis industry insiders to find out where they think the industry is headed. Will deliveries pull ahead, or will dispensaries remain the champ?
People want delivery.
"As people get more comfortable choosing their cannabis products, they'll want the same convenience they expect out of every other industry—and that's delivery. Dispensaries offer the opportunity for in-person conversations and product recommendations, but many delivery platforms—including ours—are figuring out innovative ways to communicate that information and offer live support to customers so they end up with the right products." — Andrea Brooks, Co-Founder of SAVA
The market will tend towards deliveries.
"In the long run, the market will trend towards deliveries and specialized retailers. However, in the short run, dispensaries will be the winner. There remains a huge demand for retailers across California. Only 40 percent of the population has a retailer with 60 miles of their home. This will undoubtedly change as local governments and their neighbors start seeing the benefits of the tax dollars coming in and the reduction of crimes. The counties on the sidelines will wise-up and provide their population with a safe alternative to the black market while raising funds for their community. The dispensary is an sensory experience and the novelty will eventually wear off as people find their favorite products. Millennials and the younger generations are creatures of convenience and they will expect their cannabis delivered—as spending power skews away from Baby Boomers we will see delivery take a larger piece of the pie. Not to mention overhead is significantly reduced as a delivery service compared to dispensary." — Julia Jacobson, CEO & Director of Business Strategy of Aster Farms
The dispensary experience is still not fulfilling for consumers.
"Delivery. The dispensary experience is still not fulfilling for consumers (especially women) and the desire to remain discreet about usage favors a delivery service market. Additionally, the ease of delivery makes it a favorable market to work around people's busy schedules." — Sarah Remesch, Founder of New Highs CBD
Dispensaries will always thrive.
"With my experience in cannabis being mostly in dispensaries, I think that while delivery services are a great option for quick service and immediate satisfaction, dispensaries will always thrive in this industry. Dispensaries are an interactive way for people to ask questions, learn about products and physically pick and choose their purchases. The tourism and entry-level demographic will always be present, and those people generally want the budtender and dispensary experience. More and more states are allowing dispensaries to deliver as well, so you get the best of both worlds." — Jade Daniels, Founder & CEO of Ladies of Paradise
Delivery is the wave of the future.
"Delivery is the wave of the future for everything and cannabis will be no different. In some ways it's a throwback to when we all used to get cannabis delivered to our door prior to legalization. It's convenient and, of course, exciting to just have cannabis show up at your door!" — Amy Margolis, Founder and Program Director of the Initiative
Dispensaries aren't going away anytime soon.
"I think the market will favor dispensaries because consumers want and need guidance. They look to retail cannabis professionals to provide predictability and information regarding the experience that a certain cannabis product may produce. Novice consumers also want to have conversations regarding dosing guidelines and use instructions for products. The cannabis retail transaction therefore straddles this uncharted territory of healthcare/therapist/customer service hybrid. Consumers share information with retail cannabis associates, form relationships with them and look to them for guidance. As consumers become more educated and find products that consistently work for them, delivery may increase in popularity. However, the cannabis retail experience, if done right, is a special and desirable one for many people. I don't see it going away any time soon." — Cannabis Educator & Consultant Emma Chasen
Cannabis has more demand for the in-store experience than most industries.
"I think with all things, delivery is becoming more and more popular. From groceries to beauty products, consumers want the convenience of delivery. Will it overtake dispensaries in the market? Probably not, because dispensaries tend to do both, as do retailers and restaurants. There's a regulatory problem that states are still trying to work out for delivery; Colorado still hasn't adopted any delivery regulations and California is seeing a lot of turbulence there after having delivery for some time. Also, consumers like to shop in stores still. I don't think that will ever go away. In fact, one could argue that cannabis has more demand for the in-store experience than most industries, because it's nearly impossible to ask questions when ordering delivery. They should coexist nicely.” — Brad Bogus, VP of Growth & Marketing at Confident Cannabis
There is room for both.
"Short term will be dispensaries due to restrictions of shipping and other logistical red tape. However, this isn't a bad thing. I think that having a good relationship with a dispensary (or caregiver) is valuable, for medical patients and connoisseurs alike. Dispensaries are well suited for caring for and maintaining a high quality product (keeping the storage temperature and humidity just right, for example). That is the only way you can really guarantee freshness and quality. Plus, some people just prefer to window shop, visually compare options, smell the differences, etc. Cannabis is a sensory experience, by going to a shipping only model you will lose some of that, and would certainly miss the connection with your local grower community. That said, some products make sense to be deliverables—concentrates for example, some of which are resilient to the woes of transport. People with certain medical conditions might not be as mobile, so offering this option is really beneficial. There are also the people who know exactly what they want and if a delivery system is refined, it would be a great business model. I suppose my sentiment on the issue is that there is room for both, and benefits to both. I don't think one will ever stamp out the other." — Charles McElroy, Founder of Goldleaf
We will see online assistance for purchasing cannabis skyrocket.
"While I don't think we could ever phase out the brick and mortar experience of walking into a dispensary, we will see online assistance for purchasing cannabis skyrocket. Just like Uber solved a major issue for the taxi cab experience, in the online marketing sector of the industry, we are helping solve problems for consumers. While there are roadblocks, mainly in the form of banking and taking payment online, there is a lot of innovation out there to help guide the user experience in the right direction." — Stephen Gold, Co-Owner of Fore Twenty Sports & Co-Founder of The Daily Leaf