Marijuana Couriers in Massachusetts

Stephen Andrews
15 Feb 2022

There are no recreational marijuana stores in Quincy, Massachusetts, but a new delivery service from nearby Rockland is still bringing edibles and flower to the city. How does this function, and is this a viable method to make recreational marijuana sales?

Policies on if and how marijuana can be sold can vary from city to city. For three of the nine South Shore towns in Massachusets, the only viable method, at least for now, is marijuana delivery. Want to smoke weed? Just make your order. You do have to have a minimum of $125 or so to get free delivery. A guy will come to your doorstep. Beep on your doorbell and verify if it's really you who've made the order, all while wearing a camera on his body. Once you are past this moment that might feel slightly uncomfortable, you get your weed right in and check in on the couch. Woohoo! 

As part of a partnership with Health Circle, a recreational dispensary in Rockland, marijuana courier Roy LaFlamme delivers pot products in Quincy, Abington, and Rockland. The six other South Shore towns practice a ban on marijuana delivery. 

According to the Patriot Ledger, which first reported on this story, LaFlamme makes deliveries four days a week, Thursday through Sunday. The courier started operating in the region at the start of January, and almost all deliveries have been to Quincy. 

In Quincy, a recreational marijuana shop might open later this year, but zoning rules limit their locations. Pot shops aren't allowed within 500 feet of schools, parks, libraries, transit centers, beaches or playgrounds, or within 1,500 feet of residential districts, another "adult use" facility or a site where alcohol is being served. 

Ron Affsa, who plans to open Quincy Cannabis Co. this year, describes the requirements as "very limited."

A person who wants to operate as a marijuana courier in Massachusetts needs a special type of license. LaFlamme has an economic empowerment license, which makes him eligible to conduct courier business, handed to him in October 2021. The Cannabis Control Commission only allows delivery of recreational marijuana to customers by "social equity and economic empowerment companies," which include minority, women, and veteran business enterprises. 

LaFlamme told The Patriot Ledger he wanted to join the legal cannabis business as soon as Massachusetts legalized the adult use of the plant and its derivatives. However, opening a store or cultivating was not an option for him. 

Certified as an economic empowerment applicant in 2018, LaFlamme opted to pursue becoming a marijuana courier. Prior to getting a license, he had to lease office space, which presents a problem since many landlords don't want to deal with marijuana businesses.

After obtaining his final license, he needed a company to partner with. 
"I randomly started calling different dispensaries and talking to the owners. I tried quite a few," LaFlamme said. 

It can be difficult for retailers to accept this service. They have to invest additional employee time in facilitating delivery, including a dedicated dispatcher during delivery times.

"We've gone back and forth since mid-September trying to figure out a way to make it economically feasible for Health Circle and ourselves," LaFlamme said.

As a courier, LaFlamme must verify the identity of the person receiving the order and take care of payment and paperwork, all while wearing a body camera. He also has to be accompanied by another person in the vehicle that distributes the marijuana order. 

Costs such as labor, insurance, gas, vehicles, body cameras, servers to save footage, dash cams, and ID readers eat a significant chunk of profits. 

Michael Westort, president of Health Circle, said he expects it will take time for demand to build for delivery, just as it did for his store. 
"For most towns on the South Shore, we can't deliver," Westort said. "In Hingham, Cohasset and Scituate, it's banned." 

Delivery is free, but the minimum order has to be $125. With delivery just four days a week, Westort and LaFlamme are trying to feel out the market. While delivery is limited to Rockland, Abington and Quincy, plans are to increase delivery on the South Shore and into Boston. 

As more people become accustomed to delivery, it's normal to expect more business entities to join the realm. Thus it remains to see how things play out for LaFlamme and Health Circle. 

Now, a quick question. As a user and a customer, do you prefer to visit the dispensary and pick your products personally, or would you always make an order if you have the option?

Stephen Andrews