Founders of a new cannabis delivery service set to launch in Winnipeg say they plan to use the Manitoba market as a test case for possible Canadian expansion, thanks to provincial laws that are comparatively friendly to online retailers.
“[We’re] looking at it as the first kind of domino,” said Ian Delves, president and co-founder of Super Anytime, a soon-to-launch cannabis delivery service that operates in a way similar to Skip the Dishes or Uber Eats — but delivering pot rather than food.
The same-day service is set to make its debut in mid- to late November in Winnipeg, Delves said. It’s one of the few spots in Canada a business like Super can operate, thanks to laws in the province that allow private retailers to oversee their own online shopping.
In many other provinces, only government-run stores can sell cannabis online.
“Manitoba is the first one to open up and kind of accept this as something that is legal and within the framework of … regulations today,” said Michael Kniazeff, the other co-founder and CEO of Super Anytime.
The delivery service Pineapple Express is already offering same-day drop-offs in Manitoba, as well as Saskatchewan, which has similar laws allowing for private online sales.
That company’s model is different from Super Anytime, though. Pineapple Express delivery is available as an option that buyers select at checkout on a retailer’s website, as opposed to offering the retailers’ products through its own website — the way Skip the Dishes does for restaurants.
Kniazeff and Delves are also the co-founders of Boozer, an alcohol delivery service based in Toronto. They’re hoping to build on the success of Boozer with their cannabis delivery business.
“We’re just very excited to finally stop talking about doing this and to actually action it and provide this to Canadians,” Kniazeff said.
‘Stigma of cannabis’ lingers
Curtis Ling, a regional manager for Pineapple Express in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, said the first year of delivery in Winnipeg has been steady, after an initial surge in orders that had couriers scrambling.
The number of orders varies day-to-day, he said, but on average is between 40 and 100 orders daily.
“We find every month that we’re growing and … more people are hearing about us,” Ling said Friday.
He said the service is about helping to make cannabis shopping convenient, but also about providing a safe alternative for people who don’t feel comfortable going into brick-and-mortar cannabis stores.
“That grey cloud is still there somewhat, I would say, of the stigma of cannabis. It hasn’t quite lifted, even though it’s legal,” he said.
“We try to pride ourselves on customer service, discretion and security. [That] was our No. 1, Day 1 goal, is to do our best at those areas.”
Pineapple Express also offers legal delivery of medical cannabis in some cities in Ontario, but is prohibited under that province’s laws from delivering recreational cannabis.
In April, Ontario’s provincial cannabis regulator cancelled a tender for same-day pot deliveries that had been posted in January.
Super Anytime eyes expansion
When Super Anytime launches, customers will be able to use an app (available for iOS or Android devices) or a website to place and track their orders. Payment will be handled through a program that will send funds directly to retailers’ websites, which Kniazeff said will keep the service in compliance with Manitoba laws.
He added the company has had a positive response from local retailers and the province’s Liquor, Cannabis and Gaming Authority.
Kniazeff and Delves believe making legal cannabis accessible will help curb the black market — one of the stated goals of legalizing the drug in the first place.
Delves said the company has also had conversations in Saskatchewan, and hopes to expand into that province in the future. He also hopes to launch a version of the business in Alberta, which would need to be tweaked to accommodate that province’s laws.
“We’re looking forward to kind of getting … a chorus of voices in terms of the regulators, consumers, retailers, etc., saying, ‘Hey, these guys are legitimate. It’s great value,'” he said.
“And then [we’ll] take that forward to the rest of the provinces. So really looking forward to getting that [test] case out of Manitoba.”
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