The Uber Of Pot: City Wonders, Is Marijuana-Delivery App Legal?

By Evan Bush
The Seattle Times.

Exactly a month after Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s office announced it would begin cracking down on marijuana deliveries, three young entrepreneurs at the University of Washington plan to launch a business to streamline them.

Canary, touted as the Uber of marijuana, is launching Saturday. With a few swipes on their smartphones, medical-marijuana patients can order pot products delivered from local dispensaries.

The company presents a challenge for the mayor’s office that officiated a contentious deal with the original Uber and now faces a burgeoning for-profit medical-marijuana industry that City Attorney Pete Holmes says is not legal.

So far, the administration hasn’t made up its mind on Canary.

“This is a new wrinkle in a complex problem,” said Jason Kelly, a spokesman for Mayor Ed Murray. “The mayor’s office is aware of this new innovation and is taking a look at it, but has not determined yet how to respond.”

Here’s how Canary works: Businesses pay the company an upfront fee of $500. Canary takes product photos and creates a digital storefront accessible to users through a mobile app.

Medical-marijuana patients, meanwhile, upload their IDs, patient authorizations and collective-garden agreements to Canary. Once their paperwork is verified, they can order.

Third-party couriers, who are medical-marijuana patients themselves, deliver the pot. Canary takes a “percentage of sales driven through the app,” said Josiah Tullis, 20, one if the company’s co-founders.

The students, who have been working on the self-financed app from a small office in the UW’s business school, hope Canary could be a model for regulation of recreational delivery.

So is it legal? Or, perhaps a better question, will the city prevent them from operating?

Delivery is banned by Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana. The state’s medical-marijuana law merely provides a defense in court for selling pot.

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