Marijuana delivery companies seek repeal of two-driver rule

Even before Chris Fevry launched Your Green Package, one of the first licensed marijuana courier companies in Massachusetts, he was worried about whether the business model was financially viable. Could a company act as an Uber Eats for marijuana, delivering products from a retailer to a customer, and earn enough from delivery fees to profit?

“We thought there was a way to actually make it work. And after a year of operating and about 40,000 deliveries under our belt, we find that with the two-driver rule it is literally impossible,” Fevry said on the Codcast this week.

Fevry and Julia Germaine, operating partner at marijuana delivery company KindRun, appeared on the Codcast to discuss their efforts to lobby the Cannabis Control Commission to loosen the regulations governing marijuana delivery businesses. They circulated a petition, which has been signed online by 400 people, urging regulators to eliminate a rule requiring two drivers in each car, get rid of limits on which municipalities delivery companies can operate in, and make other changes to delivery rules as they launch their next regulatory review this fall.

The second driver is an added layer of complexity that certainly we don’t need,” Germaine said. “We have certain instances where I would want a second driver, in case we can’t park if we’re at a multi-tenant building in Boston. But that’s a business decision.

The first marijuana delivery companies were licensed a little more than a year ago. For the first three years of operations, only social equity applicants – those from communities disproportionately affected by prior enforcement of drug laws – could obtain licenses. 

Fevry said he had to shut down locations in Worcester and Western Massachusetts because there was insufficient customer interest to justify the cost. He said the region has a lot of dispensaries, so most people can travel only a few minutes to reach one, and many residents have cars. Due to the fixed costs of operating the business, including the two drivers, Fevry said he had to set a minimum order size of $100 – but the average amount a recreational marijuana customer spends is closer to $50. 

“For a lot of customers, it doesn’t make sense to order delivery when they can just go right to a dispensary and get it,” Fevry said.

Germaine runs a Hudson-based delivery operator company that serves the region from Worcester to Boston. A delivery operator can buy cannabis wholesale, warehouse it, and sell it directly to customers. Germaine said that model is viable because she can profit by buying cannabis wholesale then selling it at a higher retail price. For her, the challenge is making people aware they can buy cannabis legally through a delivery service. She said rather than trying to change the behavior of existing dispensary customers, her company seeks to identify and market to people who want the discretion and convenience of home delivery, like people who don’t own a car.

“It’s world building here. It’s raising awareness that this service is even available and then getting people through the experience of e-commerce for cannabis,” Germaine said.

The two-driver rule exists for safety reasons – to make it less likely a delivery car will be robbed, and as a precaution against employee theft. But Fevry and Germaine argue that there is no safety rationale for requiring a second person. “It’s more likely for a cannabis delivery driver to get in a car accident than for a vehicle to get robbed,” Fevry said. He said a second person would not help in a robbery, since drivers will give product up rather than fight.

Germaine said given how much security already exists – body cameras, product tracking, etc. – it is a “red herring” to think having two people is necessary to prevent driver misconduct. She attributes that argument to “a deep mistrust in the employee” in the cannabis industry, which she said is unfounded and unnecessary.

Fevry said the second driver adds to not only payroll costs, but also workers compensation and insurance costs. Currently, nine states allow marijuana delivery with one driver and only two states, Massachusetts and Florida, require two people in a car.

The petition also asks regulators to eliminate a rule that only allows marijuana delivery in towns that also allow marijuana retailers or where the governing body specifically approved delivery. An important part of the legalization ballot question gave local control to municipalities to decide whether they want to allow marijuana businesses. But Fevry argued that, when it comes to home delivery, this should be a personal choice. “The municipality should have no authority over what a private citizen orders to their house,” he said.

The petition also asks for the elimination of a ban on marijuana delivery on hotels. “We are now a weed tourism state, but delivery doesn’t get to participate in that,” Germaine said.

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

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Martha’s Vineyard explainer: Why is Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida flying immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, following the lead of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey? Read more.

Baker blames Washington: Gov. Charlie Baker did not criticize DeSantis for flying immigrants to the Vineyard. Instead, he criticized Washington for its failure to fix the nation’s “screwed up” immigration system. Read more.

Credits vs. checks: Gov. Charlie Baker presses forward with hefty tax cap refunds, but questions are being raised about whether his method of sending out checks is legal. The law calls for returning the money as a tax credit, not mailing out a check. Read more.

Vote shift: Mail-in voting didn’t increase voter turnout in the primary; it  only shifted when people voted. Read more.

OPINION

Classic reads: Professor Andrew Newman of Stony Brook University asks what makes a book a high school classic and whether the list of classics will remain the same or start to change. Read more.

No natural gas: Jess Nahigian of the Sierra Club’s Massachusetts chapter says the region needs to move away from its reliance on natural gas. Read more.

FROM AROUND THE WEB

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS  

Salem seeks to ban weapons in public buildings. (Salem News)

Boston is disbanding the city’s street outreach worker program that aimed to disrupt gang violence after ongoing turmoil within the initiative. (Boston Globe

Employees at Worcester City Hall say there is a “racially toxic” work environment there. (Telegram & Gazette)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

In the latest entry in the annals of Biden gaffes, the president told “60 Minutes” in an off-the-cuff remark that the “pandemic is over.” (Washington Post)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Hurricane Fiona pummeled Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island without power yesterday. (Washington Post)

A Russian disinformation campaign worked to deepen the divides that formed within the 2017  Women’s March organization that protested Donald Trump’s arrival in power. (New York Times

MASSACHUSETTS

A New Bedford Light reporter took the streets with a video camera to ask area residents what they thought of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flying immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard. 

Massachusetts is one of the most active areas in the country for the white supremacist group Patriot Front. MassLive looks at the group’s activities statewide. 

A hotline set up this summer by US Attorney Rachael Rollins for residents to report hate activity has gotten 160 calls. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

A spokesperson for Republican gubernatorial nominee Geoff Diehl told a New York Times reporter “no comment” when asked whether the candidate would accept the outcome of the November election. (New York Times

Democratic attorney general nominee Andrea Campbell continued to push off the question of whether she’ll debate her Republican opponent, Jay McMahon, at all, but she made clear that she would definitely not agree to the seven or eight face-offs he has proposed. (Boston Herald

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The state is seeking to sell a historic armory in Clinton after town officials are uninterested in acquiring it. (Telegram & Gazette)

EDUCATION

Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington has started “deleveling” all grades, eliminating tracks that separate students by achievement and aptitude. The effort is off to a rocky start. (Berkshire Eagle)

ARTS/CULTURE

Filmmaker Ken Burns releases a new documentary examining the United States’ often troubling response to the Holocaust. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden fired the head of the office’s juvenile unit, prompting criticism from those who say he’s rolling back reforms, but his spokesman said there will be no change in the approach to younger offenders and residents should expect no change in the percentage of juvenile cases diverted away from court action. (Boston Globe)

A veteran peace activist is caught trying to meet an underage girl for sex. (Salem News)

MEDIA

The Boston Globe tells its employees to return to work at the office on Tuesday. (Media Nation)