It’s the seeming Catch-22 of Initiative-502′s legalization of marijuana in Washington. Come December 6th, it will be legal to smoke a joint — provided you are safely inside and not at a magic show. But with no state-authorized stores in place for the foreseeable future, where will the good citizens of Seattle get their weed? Some of the people behind the small wave of Capitol Hill marijuana dispensaries that came — and went — over the last two years believe they have the answer.
“There’s an opportunity. Who better to provide it?” asks Cass Stewart who opened the Apothecary dispensary on Broadway in 2011 only to quickly close the medicinal marijuana provider in the wake of a summer sortie of letters sent out by the Drug Enforcement Agency warning area dispensaries located within 1,000 feet of schools and other fuzzily-defined entities.
Stewart and others looking to continue their entrepreneurial headstart but not tangle with Washington D.C. shut down and moved on.
But few, including Stewart, quit. Instead, the new wave of dispensaries are moving away from brick and mortar storefronts and rebranding themselves as virtual delivery services.
So, somebody contacts you with an order for marijuana and you deliver? CHS believes that has been done before.
“It’s different from [being] a dealer because I want to stay within the law,” Stewart said.
The value proposition certainly seems to be in place. December 6th will encourage an impossible to predict increase in the Seattle marijuana economy customer base. These customers will likely seek the safest possible avenue for acquiring marijuana with the lowest likelihood of getting ripped off in the process. Some might even be interested in the connoisseurship once the probability of a safe transaction is established.
Stewart said he still has relationships with customers from his brick and mortar days and the new service will be run with the same requirements around authorization. But he also readily acknowledges that, come December 6th — a Thursday for those planning ahead — the division between “patient” and “customer” will become even more blurred.
His Apothecary Express “Capitol Hill Medical Cannabis Delivery” service is gearing up for a December soft-launch. You can check it out on Facebook.
It’s not the only one. Meet Mr. X. Mr. X Delivery is already up and running and has a tricked-out site complete with an ecommerce enabled pot menu.
“Mr. X only recently launched publicly and we operate exclusively online,” Mr. X writes. “The DEA enforcement thus far have been limited to those dispensaries who have a physical location (there is no mention of internet-based) within 1000 feet of schools and parks. Using this map as a guide, http://legalcannabis.us/map/, it would seem this restriction would limit much of Seattle and nearly all of Capitol Hill.”
There is no school-centered 1,000-foot radius to worry about on the Internet, apparently.
We don’t have any info on the identity of Mr. X and a cursory check of business licenses and domain registrations didn’t yield any clues. Here’s what Mr. X says about who Mr. X is:
We are former Seattle dispensary volunteers who strive to provide safe, discreet and convenient access to our patients with a special emphasis on those who cannot leave their home due to their medical condition.
We started Mr. X because the day-to-day behind-the-scenes shenanigans that happen at Seattle dispensaries quite frankly appalled us. Unfortunately, the medical marijuana industry has truly become fuelled by selfish individuals and greed. In order to satisfy the bottom line, patient needs are neglected and the standards for superior quality medicine have diminished. Enter Mr. X!
Perhaps more free to prognosticate given the anonymity, Mr. X’s predictions for what comes next in 2013 are more chaotic than what the Apothecary’s Stewart expects to happen. “With the passage of I-502, operating in a gray area remains,” Mr. X writes. “Our general feeling has been that most industry members feel as if 2013 will become a ‘jungle of weed’ so to speak. For some that’s going to mean pure greed and an anything goes mentality. We’d like for that to not be the case.”
Meanwhile, not everyone has gone virtual. In the old Apothecary space, a new dispensary quietly moved in following the excitement of the DEA letter. It’s operating on Broadway today — and probably will be on December 6th also.