Will weed delivery in Colorado kill weed retail?
Underground weed dealers always made house calls. (If you could get them to return your texts.)
But legit weed delivery in Colorado was approved in the spring and starts this upcoming summer.
Medical delivery first, recreational a year later.
A win, right?
But some weed companies are nervous. The worry can be boiled down to one word: Amazon.
Amazon's fast, easy delivery is closing down retail shops like a country-wide hurricane; 8,000 stores are expected to close in 2019, Business Insider says.
Will delivery wreck the weed shops?
It's a raging debate in weed world, one that matters. Colorado's 572 weed stores employ thousands.
Tim Morgen, spokesman for pot shop chain Bgood, told Westword delivery could ruin the relationship between customer and shop, until all customer loyalty is to the app, and all purchases are done online. And community, connection, suffers.
But many market players believe weed retail will do fine. One is Matthew Shifrin, co-founder of Lova, which bought five pot shops in Denver, including Groundswell and Northern Lights Edgwater, and is up-scaling them to attract, as he says, connoseurs and afficanados, retirees and soccer moms.
His argument: there's already alcohol delivery, yet liquor stores are on every corner. Why? Because buying booze is an experience, a ritual, Shifrin said. Examine the labels, talk to the clerk. Slide the bottle in a crinkly brown bag, open later like a present. (Shifrin is so sure retail cannabis has a future he convinced Australian billionaire Brett Blundy to invest in Lova — Blundy has an $80 million yacht, so he can't make too many bad business decisions.)
"Every other thing we have access to can be delivered," said Peter Barsoom, co-founder of edibles company 1906. He's been speaking out in favor of delivery.
Barsoom said retail shops won't die, even with delivery. For one thing, only companies with weed licences — shops — can deliver.
Second, Barsoom thinks delivery will just expand the marijuana pie, not just cut it up.
"Our biggest market is women and seniors," Barsoom said. "Walking into a dispensary can be anxiety-inducing experience for many people." Non-tradional users can get overwhelmed by budtenders who talk fast and use jargon, the same way a lot of us are overwhelmed where the car mechanic talks about our "differential."
Amanda Fox, Shifrin's wife and co-founder of Lova, says Lova's shops are trying to change that intimidating experience, to teach his budtenders to talk simply and ask questions of the customers.
"We want to be in the retail cannabis business for decades," said Fox. "We want to hand this business down to our kids."
Delivery or not, she thinks she can do it.