In California, buying marijuana legally isn’t really a big deal.
You go to an evaluation office, briefly meet with a doctor about your ailment, present proof of your California residency, and the good doctor decides if you’re eligible for cannabis treatment. Then, you go to a licensed dispensary and exchange green for green. Regulations vary by locality, but for the most part, this is how it works.
Eaze, more commonly known as “Uber for pot,” has already applied the so-called “sharing economy” model to the dispensary end of the business in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now, it’s beginning work on the user acquisition side, looking to connect potential customers with doctors.
Today, Eaze is launching EazeMD, which lets users get evaluated by a doctor over a video call and receive a digital copy of a recommendation via email. The doctor, contracted by a medical partner of Eaze’s, has up to 20 minutes to decide whether to approve a recommendation for cannabis treatment. Customers only pay the $25 fee (which is deposited up front) if they get a recommendation, and doctors are available seven days a week from 8 am to midnight.
The telemedicine service isn’t a novel idea; it’s already offered in a more limited capacity by Eaze’s competitor Meadow, which is a partner of the ride-hailing service Sidecar. But Eaze is better funded, helps recruit drivers for partner dispensaries and has a more expansive delivery operation. And while its “Uber for pot” branding has great SEO value, it doesn’t fully capture what makes the business tick.
Eaze operates by partnering with dispensaries, many of which already offer delivery, and getting their drivers on the Eaze platform. Most marijuana dispensaries offer customers a delivery window of a few hours or they ask them to schedule orders way in advance. Eaze CEO Keith McCarty channels Uber’s Travis Kalanick’s kvetching about how much it sucks to hail a cab as he decries such inconveniences:
“The data shows that when demand starts to go over supply at 28 minutes, we see drop-offs in terms of orders,” McCarty said. “We’re the only application that can deliver that. [Non-Eaze dispensaries] can do an hour or an hour and a half, or within a two- to three-hour window.”
McCarty said he has no plans for Eaze to get into the business of cultivating its own crop, which means its business depends on its delivery service and software platform. Given the rapidly growing local delivery services market (think Postmates, Uber, Amazon, Instacart, etc.), betting solely on delivery in the long run would be tricky.
McCarty said Eaze also has “operations specialists” handy who can assist partner dispensaries in “automating certain parts of their business.”
“We have a wealth of data and analytics, and share that with our partner dispensaries,” McCarty said. “Eaze is a technology service. We don’t touch the plant and we don’t touch the transaction.”
One thing Eaze has going for it is a growing area of operation: The company also announced that it’s moving into Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties, confirming plans previously reported when Eaze raised $10 million in April. If the company successfully navigates the complicated regulatory terrain — California’s local ordinances for marijuana vary widely — McCarty sees a serious opportunity in becoming the California cannabis tech experts (“Los Angeles city, not even the county, is a larger opportunity than Colorado”), although he’s still interested in fully legalized markets like Washington and Colorado.
Another important point is that presently Eaze operates completely within California’s medical marijuana industry. Other major cannabis technology startups, like the Peter Thiel-backed Privateer Holdings, wear their pro-legalization positions on their sleeves. When I pointed this out to McCarty, he quickly cut me off.
“We view the opportunity as not just medical,” McCarty said. “I think that as the regulatory market grows, that’s a great opportunity for expansion.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.