By the time I inhaled the medical-grade Mango Kush delivered to me by a mobile “caregiver,” I was already high on the hot air blowing around San Francisco’s latest Uber-of-something startup. It's called Eaze, and it wants to be the Uber of pot.
"We're not a delivery service. We're the technology that automates connections between patients and dispensers," Eaze's CEO told a slightly skeptical San Francisco Chronicle, sounding an awful lot like a medical marijuana delivery service. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Business Times referred to a "dose" of pot in its favorable coverage of the mobile reefer ordering service, which launched yesterday. Mashable did its thing too.
So if Maureen Dowd can have an edible freak-out in Colorado on the New York Times expense account, then the least I could do was buy weed with my phone, smoke it, and then tell you about it. Reader: It was eazy.
Without telling him I was planning to do a test run of Eaze, I spoke to CEO and founder Keith McCarty, who operates the company with three others out of his Russian Hill apartment. McCarty was an early employee at Yammer, which sold to Microsoft in 2012 in a billion-dollar deal that both he and Eaze’s press release made sure to mention. That's billion with a b. McCarty is currently the sole investor in Eaze, which is seeking "funding from angel investors and thought leaders."
Eaze hopes to provide the kind of professional service that could benefit seriously sick patients, McCarty explains. The hours for this type of service are 8 am to midnight. Eaze hopes to expand "rapidly" in the Bay Area, and then move onto other legal- and quasi-legal weed hotbeds, like Southern California, Colorado, and Washington state. Marijuana-related businesses are a risk for banks, because federal authorities can easily freeze their accounts. But Eaze is a technology company, says McCarty. That echoes what ridesharing companies say about how they aren't car-for-hire companies, but rather information platforms. (It's also the widely-mocked defense that MonkeyParking tried to make too.)
So with all of this background in mind, I was ready to give Eaze a shot. I’m a card-carrying medical marijuana patient. Psoriasis is my complaint. I really have it, but pot doesn’t really help. (Anyway, even the Times is coming around.) Opening a snazzy mobile site on my phone (the Eaze app isn’t out yet), I took photos of my medical recommendation letter and my driver’s license. If weed were to become universally accepted, Eaze’s verification services could be useful. Currently, each of San Francisco’s reported 27 dispensaries requires patients to present their recommendation letter and ID, before entering them into their own system and sometimes issuing their own cards. That's a process that's rife with potential for standardization. McCarty hopes that Eaze may be able to streamline and centralize the registration procedure.
Soon, I was approved and my phone greeted me with an order form. Out of eight finely photographed varieties of bud, I selected Mango Kush, mainly because of this appetizing description: “Tastes and smells like mango with a hint of pine. This frosty treat is sure to make you smile. Effects: Happy, Relaxed: 1/8 oz $55.” Eaze, like dispensaries, is cash-only. That's unfortunate, since a key convenience of apps like Uber is the ability for customers to pay by phone with a saved credit card. Eaze promises delivery in less than ten minutes, which is crazy-fast compared to existing services, which might ask for an hour delivery window. My initial estimate from the site was just 7 minutes.
But no, the weed isn’t free if Eaze shows up five minutes late, as mine did (especially not if your caregiver has to politely text you that your buzzer is broken). Caregivers are paid $10 per delivery and can’t accept tips. The company advertises $45 an hour for drivers “who drive professionally and know a thing or two about marijuana.” Lyft advertises $35 an hour for drivers. Eaze, McCarty told me, already has dozens of drivers. (The IRL delivery guy did not wear a suit like he does in this hilarious promotional video. Everything else was the same though.)
My "caregiver" was a patient himself: Eaze employees must be, in order to carry the legal limit of medical marijuana. He seemed to know his wares and remembered that the Mango Kush was from Uni Collective. He’d worked with Eaze for a week and said the owners were smart. He said he wanted to be my Google of Pot, not just my Uber: if I had a question about anything, I could text it to Eaze and he’d look it up. When asked, McCarty said he might consider drug-testing his drivers, but that none of them would be high on the job. So much for my High Maintenance-inspired fantasies.
Left alone with the effortlessly scored goods, I turned to my fully charged Pax, sometimes called the iPhone of vaporizers, made by the San Francisco-based Ploom. I packed a generous bowl of the pungent Mango Kush, and later wrote this all down.
More the Seamless of Cannabis than the Uber of Pot, Eaze poses some of the same threats to humanity as the restaurant delivery service. In a thick haze of vaporware and sea of start-ups disrupting lunch, what is Eaze?
Well, it's not a typical San Francisco pot dispensary, which, by the way, are various and interesting. For the most part, dispensaries are medical and legitimate—SPARC is sometimes called the Apple store of pot—but each has a bit of character and a few signature offerings not to be missed. Great pre-rolled joints at the unscenic Bay Area Safe Alternatives, for instance. Dispensaries' options and prices, compared to Eaze’s on its first day of business, also make them worth a visit.
But it's also not a pure delivery service, which on their face do exactly what Eaze does already, except without an app. Many Bay Area dispensaries offer free delivery. Others require referrals from existing customers and have friendly delivery guys that guide you through a variety of strains and will text you their ETA. (Maybe these guys are the disrupted taxis here?)
What Eaze is a hybrid of the dispensary and the deliverer, one that's missing key social elements of each. In a late night vapor stupor, I reminisced about smoking joints with the guys who'd come to my door to sell me pot. You can't smoke with the Eaze guy, and that seems like a missed opportunity. But then again, I kind of liked the efficiency and professionalism of my clear-headed caregiver. Like the old joke goes, you're not paying them to deliver you pot—you're paying them to leave.
Pot purchased: 1/8 ounce
Pot consumed: 1/8 ounce
Articles written: 1
Human connections forged over a nice bowl of Mango Kush: 0