A small loophole in the law and a roster of patient-centric drivers fueled ganjarunner’s success.
Shortly after Carla Baumgartner founded ganjarunner in 2015, she received a note from one of her first customers.
“The past year has been extremely difficult for me”, the note read. “My chronic sciatic pain, post-cancer surgery, sleeplessness, depression, and the mass amount of opioids prescribed made life extremely challenging for me; then came ganjarunner….I wanted to take the time to express my gratitude and provide any support your organization may need. Cannabis has been a game-changer for me and has allowed me to live a much improved life. I am 73 and still have so much more to do.”
The letter convinced Baumgartner ganjarunner was worth the business risks.
Baumgartner was introduced to cannabis as a young teenager, after she was diagnosed with anxiety and prescribed Xanax and Zoloft. She declined the drugs, instead turning to cannabis. A self-described micro-doser, she credits the plant with allowing her to have a successful career in real estate.
“I continued my cannabis research and education throughout,” she said. “Everything from cultivating and working with indoor and outdoor growers, knowing one day I would make cannabis my next endeavor.”
Much like the rest of the industry, the cannabis delivery business is fraught with problems, risks, and uncertainty. In the beginning, Baumgartner operated incognito. But she found a loophole in the law: The 1996 Compassionate Use Act, which allows ganjarunner to deliver to members of its virtual collective. Members may sign up at ganjarunner.com and must provide a current medical marijuana recommendation. “Our closed-loop method and other procedures have kept us safe thus far,” she said. “However, new regulations and excessive fines are a new risk as we continue to work very hard obtaining all proper licensing through this transitional period.”
ganjarunner employs twelve drivers who crisscross Los Angeles County from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, delivering most orders within sixty to ninety minutes. The company also offers next-business-day shipping to patients statewide. The drivers, many of whom are hired through word of mouth, comprise patient advocates, regional collective managers, and quality-control agents. “We have been fortunate to find employees who put service above all else,” Baumgartner said.
Last year, ganjarunner averaged more than 1,200 deliveries a month. The average price per delivery, $100, was higher than the average dispensary sale, but Baumgartner doesn’t know how a new 15-percent excise tax, local taxes, sales tax, and additional fees that will be assessed beginning January 1 may affect 2018 figures. The company also bucks the dispensary trend when it comes to demographics and gender. Women compose 62 percent of ganjarunner’s clients; men compose 38 percent. The majority of clients are middle-aged working professionals and the elderly. “Many older customers are recommended by their children to give cannabis a try,” Baumgartner said.
How will ganjarunner stay in the fast lane with the recreational market and new laws to navigate in 2018? “Some areas of our business will change, since new ordinances have restricted how, when, and where cannabis can be delivered,” she said. “We are in the process of developing solutions with new procedures and forming alliances.” — Rob Hill