Entrepreneur’s plan to bring cannabis delivery to Vancouver a pipe dream

Provincial laws prohibit such services

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Save the Drive is a fledgling mobile cannabis delivery service that founder Chanel Graham hopes will be given the green light to operate by Oct. 17.
Photograph By CHARMIN THERIAULT

Any new business venture requires a bit of a hope and prayer, and Chanel Graham’s new baby is no different.

But given where the laws of the land currently sit, Graham may need far more than divine intervention for her fledgling business long before it even hits opening day.

Graham is the founder of a mobile app called Save the Drive, which is similar to Uber Eats or Skip the Dishes. But rather than delivering cookies or cuisine, Save the Drive would deliver cannabis.

The operative word here is “would,” as Graham’s current business model is illegal according to a rep with the provincial ministry of the attorney general.

Graham has run into the same legal hurdle in Alberta, where she plans to launch the venture on Oct. 17 in Edmonton and Calgary, along with in Vancouver and Toronto.

Graham said she hasn’t talked to anyone from the City of Vancouver, nor anyone from the B.C. government either.

“We haven’t had any discussions as of yet, because until Oct. 17 nothing is set in stone,” she said in an interview from Edmonton. “The rules are continually changing. For them to say we are breaking a law, it’s not law yet for us to break.”

Save the Drive works via an app that requires sign up and proof of legal age. The technology then allows users to see product in each dispensary in their vicinity, make their selection and pay the piper.

From there, in theory, the driver delivers cannabis to a marketplace Graham describes as “pretty wide” open: those too sick to leave their homes, recreational users who have imbibed too much and others still who don’t want to get up off the couch.

“There are also people who are looking for discretion, maybe they don’t want to be seen walking into a dispensary,” Graham said.

Graham wouldn’t disclose proposed cannabis price points, nor how or what she intends to pay the 200 drivers who would be employed by her company.

It may not matter.

As it stands now, B.C. laws explicitly prohibit Graham’s business. Online sales of non-medical cannabis from licensed private businesses aren’t allowed. A licensee cannot operate a non-medical cannabis delivery service or enable one to be operated in association with their store.

More locally, cannabis retailers in Vancouver will require a provincial cannabis retail licence, a municipal development permit and a municipal business licence to operate. Once legalization becomes a reality on Oct. 17, provincially licensed cannabis retailers will be the only place to legally obtain non-medical pot.

The Courier asked both the city and province if business plans similar to Graham’s had been submitted for vetting, regardless of their legality. Neither government body answered the question.

For her part, Graham said she hopes the legislation will change in both Alberta and B.C. prior to mid-October.

“We plan to discuss it if we need to with Members of Parliament or the liquor commission and work towards an actual goal of being able to operate,” Graham said. “We do not plan to break any laws.”

@JohnKurucz