The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 18, 2014

Medical marijuana delivery services are on a roll

LOS ANGELES — Brian Reichle couldn’t have gotten a pepperoni pizza much faster.

Needing to replenish his stash of marijuana one recent afternoon, the Burbank resident dialed Speed Weed. Within the hour, a driver arrived with a white paper bag carrying a gram of cannabis, 10 joints and a handful of pot-infused candies and cookies.

“They come to my house, and they’re in and out,” said Reichle, 39, a comedian who spends about $100 a week on medical marijuana. “I shouldn’t have to go to a store.”

Once a small, word-of-mouth phenomenon, mobile marijuana businesses now number in the hundreds across Southern California. Nationwide, pot delivery services have nearly tripled in three years, from 877 to 2,617, according to Weedmaps, an online directory for pot businesses.

Weed on wheels offers patients convenience and owners a cheaper alternative to running a brick-and-mortar shop. Delivery services see huge potential for growth.

“I still believe 75 percent of marijuana patients don’t know delivery is a thing,” said Speed Weed owner A.J. Gentile, 42, a Bronx, N.Y., native who also works as a voice-over actor. “It’s safer to engage this way. You don’t have to go to a sketchy dispensary. That’s why we get so many female customers.”

The proliferation of delivery services is fueled in part by city efforts to reduce the number of dispensaries. About 200 have closed in L.A. since voters approved Proposition D last year, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office said.

Under the measure, dispensaries and their landlords can be prosecuted if the shops aren’t properly registered or if they do not operate a legal distance from public parks, schools, child-care centers and other facilities.

As a result, the owners of closed stores sitting on piles of unsold inventory figure they have little choice but to start a delivery service.

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