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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Another "Uber for Marijuana" Hits Bay Area, But Has Legal Troubles in L.A.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 3, 2014 at 11:40 AM

click to enlarge Weed on your phone, and liquor too. - NESTDROP.COM
  • Weed on your phone, and liquor too.
A third service that aims to be the "Uber of marijuana" — or the "Lyft of cannabis," or the "Sidecar of skunk" — has gone live in the Bay Area.

Nestdrop began last summer as a Los Angeles-area alcohol delivery app, but added medical cannabis to its offerings last month. The service took its first orders in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose last week, company cofounder Michael Pycher said Wednesday.

Unlike Eaze and Meadow, the two "Uber for marijuanas" already in operation in the Bay, Nestdrop actually has an app available for download on Android devices. The other two services are still Web-based. 

Nestdrop has also earned the "Uber for" label: it's already run afoul of regulators. The Los Angeles City Attorney yesterday announced that Nestdrop violates local law there and has filed suit to shut it down. Does that mean Nestdrop's Bay Area expansion plans are on hold? Hardly.

Nestdrop is strikingly similar to the other medical marijuana delivery services tailored to the smartphone set. The company is a technology service, not a cannabis collective or delivery service. Users select weed from menus on offer from existing cannabis collectives with which Nestdrop partners, Pycher said. The collective is then responsible for delivering the marijuana to the patient in need.

And Nestdrop will still deliver alcohol, just not on the same order. It's the law.

Speaking of, Los Angeles is not cracking down on Nestdrop in the way you might think. There's nothing about the "Uber of" label that's making regulators mad, per se. Instead, the city attorney there says that delivery services violate that city's medical marijuana dispensary law, Measure D, which requires cannabis businesses to register with the city and stay within a certain distance from schools and other places where kids hang out. Nestdrop has none of those permits, but Nestdrop is also claiming that it's a tech service and not a collective, and therefore doesn't need a cannabis collective permit.

There are rules like that in San Francisco, too, but delivery services for weed have for years dodged them. Asked whether the collectives Nestdrop is partnering with in San Francisco are licensed, Pycher said he wasn't at liberty to identify them.

For what it's worth, the collective that Eaze uses applied for a permit from the San Francisco Department of Public Health recently, and Meadow uses longtime local favorite Vapor Room, which had a storefront location in the lower Haight — and the permit to go with it — until the federal Justice Department shut it down. UPDATE: Eaze has stopped using Uni Collective until their permit is finalized, and is instead only delivering cannabis from licensed and permitted dispensary SPARC, a spokeswoman told us.

"We're still operating here [in LA] until we're told we're not allowed to, and we're still expanding to other places," Pycher said. "We believe we're operating legally."

If Nestdrop survives its legal challenge in Los Angeles, it'll be well-positioned if and when California finally legalizes marijuana. 
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About The Author

Chris Roberts

Chris Roberts has spent most of his adult life working in San Francisco news media, which is to say he's still a teenager in Middle American years. He has covered marijuana, drug policy, and politics for SF Weekly since 2009.

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