Uber-style cannabis delivery service hopes to launch in Edmonton, Calgary

An Edmonton business hopes to cash-in on the lucrative cannabis market launching an Uber-style delivery service for medical and recreational users.

But regulations may prevent the business from operating in Alberta

Save the Drive, an Uber-style app for cannabis delivery, will be available in October for Android and iPhone. (David Thurton/ CBC)

An Edmonton business hopes to cash in on the lucrative cannabis market by launching an Uber-style delivery service for medical and recreational users. But whether the business will be allowed to operate in Alberta is still up in the air. 

Called Save the Drive, the business is set to launch a mobile application when cannabis becomes legal Oct. 17.

CEO Chanel Graham sees a need for the service among medical users who are homebound, can't drive, or among recreational users who are intoxicated and unable to drive.

"This is something that would be needed and in demand in Canada," Graham said. "And it's something that we can offer to keep drivers off the road."

The company would employ three full-time and six part-time employees and then at least 200 drivers who are paid per delivery.

Once users place their order, the driver would purchase the marijuana and then deliver it. Users would pay in the app with a credit card or at the door with cash.

Both the driver and Save the Drive would charge the user a fee.

Chanel Graham is CEO of Save the Drive. (David Thurton/ CBC)

Graham said that during her decade-long career as a home-car worker, she saw the need for same-day cannabis delivery that wasn't dependent on mail delivery times.

Several of her clients had epilepsy and used cannabis oil but couldn't drive to the store.

"With the new law changing it really opens the horizons. But those patients still don't feel well to leave their home," Graham said. "Those patients don't have the ability to drive themselves to the dispensary."

In November, Graham visited Vancouver and saw a courier delivering cannabis, but thought she could improve on that model. 

"There was a gentleman that comes with kind of a tickle trunk and allows you to choose what products you want," Graham said. "It's not very professional when you are dealing with patients who want to have access to cannabis."

The next month, back in Edmonton, she started working on Save the Drive.

The application is set to launch in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto in October. Graham said she has plans to expand into other Alberta cities including Red Deer and Fort McMurray.

AGLC says private cannabis delivery not allowed 

The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission told CBC the province's cannabis rules prohibit retailers from selling items online and running a delivery service.

Only the AGLC can sell online and deliver cannabis to someone's doorstep through Canada Post.

"One of the concerns that come from delivery is how is age verification being implemented," said Heather Holman, AGLC communications manager. "With Canada Post we have [a] very strict process in place that will reinforce that when the delivery is being made, it is not being left at the door." 

Save the Drive is planning to be an Uber-style cannabis delivery service. (Save the Drive)

Graham said Save the Drive would require all users to upload their ID. She said the company is not directly selling cannabis, but delivering it in the same way a friend buys beer at liquor store for another friend who reimburses them.

"It may put us at a standstill," Graham said. "It's going to be a grey area that we are going to have to work with AGLC on."

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David Thurton

Senior reporter, Parliamentary Correspondent

David Thurton is a senior reporter in CBC's Parliamentary Bureau. He covers daily politics in the nation’s capital and specializes in environment and energy policy. Born in Canada but raised in Trinidad and Tobago, he’s moved around more times than he can count. He’s worked for CBC in several provinces and territories, including Alberta and the Northwest Territories.