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Can I get Weed with that? Cannabis Drive Thrus

50-70% of all fast food sales were made in drive thrus in 2016, generating some $100 million dollars in sales. Cannabis dispensaries may increase sale efficiency and shorten customer wait times by adopting drive thru options. New drive thru dispensaries unveiled in Florida and Washington will allow owners to better track purchases.

Cannabis drive thru lanes will allow dispensaries to decrease their wait times by streamlining pickups, as well as implementing online ordering systems. These vertical drive thru integrations will help dispensaries track their products from seed to sale.

“I’ll have two number nines, a number nine large, a number six with extra dip, two number 45s, one with cheese, and a large soda.”

These, famous, profound words, uttered by 20th century San Andreas philosopher, Big Smoke, should be familiar to you as a fast food drive thru order. Drive thrus are quite popular throughout the United States, and the average consumer should be well accustomed to them, whether for fast food, alcohol, or even medication at a pharmacy.

At the same time, apps like Postmates, Grubhub, Doordash, and Instacart have grown in popularity. These apps allow customers to pre-order their food for either delivery or pickup. Postmates generated 584 million dollars of sales in 2017 alone.

But what if I told you one day we may order weed from a drive thru, just like our favorite fast food snacks? And imagine if, like Postmates or Doordash, you could skip waiting in line at the dispensary, and place your order with your phone for pick up or delivery?

With new drive thru dispensary innovations, patients and recreational enthusiasts alike could simply select the cannabis products they desire, and then pull into the drive thru to pick them up, right away.




Retail sales for the overall fast food market were worth nearly 200 million dollars in 2016. It is estimated 50-70% of these sales were made via the drive thru


Comparing Cannabis’ Market Size to Fast Food

With the help of expanding legalization here and abroad, the overall cannabis market expects to begin nearing the size of the massive fast food industry by the mid 2020s. When this happens, cannabis may wish to emulate fast foods propensity for streamlining orders and pickups via a drive thru.

According to Reuters, drive thru orders, whether made via app or placed through the traditional restaurant intercom system, accounted for 70% of all McDonald's sales in 2016.

Fast food patrons made 12.4 billion trips through drive thrus from 2011 to 2012 alone, according to the NDP Group, who conduct market research with regard to popular chains. QSR magazine estimated 2012 American drive thru sales totalled 50-70% of the then $195 billion industry. In 2018, the American fast food market surpassed 250 billion dollars in size.

In comparison, the legal cannabis market, while growing, totalled only $10.4 billion in 2018. However, with the advent of nationwide legalization in Canada, and new recreational market sales beginning in states like Massachusetts and soon to be Michigan, the industry as a whole may be worth as much as $146.4 billion by 2025.

If cannabis reaches prominence similar to that of the current fast food market, you can expect a good chunk of these future sales to come via non traditional mediums, like from a app, or a cannabis drive thru window.

Some current marijuana dispensaries already feature drives thrus that offer quick order/pickup capabilities. They utilize new vertically integrated technology informed for the cannabis industry, with the ability to track items, process purchases/pickups, and ensure seed to sale compliance with statewide marijuana regulations.



Legal cannabis is expected to grow as large as the fast food market


Seed To Sale Drive Thru Integration

New drive thru dispensaries in Miami, Washington, and California provide a glimpse at what the future of cannabis dispensary vertical drive thru/pickup integration will look like.

Miami based medical marijuana dispensary, Curaleaf, recently announced on March 29th that they would be adding a drive thru lane to their Miami International Airport location. Beginning on April 4th, Miami residents with Florida medical marijuana cards may pull into this drive thru and make medical cannabis purchases.

In a press release, Curaleaf CEO, Joe Lusardi, described the twofold reasons behind their decision to implement a drive thru ordering system, stating, “understanding many of our patients live with debilitating conditions that may impact mobility, we are proud to now offer Miami-area patients our premium-quality medical marijuana products through online orders that may be fulfilled via our drive-thru or free delivery service.”

Curaleaf is not alone. In July 2018, a cannabis dispensary in Washington called Joint Rivers in similar fashion became the first drive thru dispensary in the state. Joint River’s general manager, Audra Jaggers, lauded that the new drive thru system will help them to, “provide great cannabis products with stellar customer service.”

Drive thrus do cut down on wait times, but they also may help analyze important information about cannabis products.


The average marijuana customer’s dispensary wait time can be double or even triple these average drive thru wait times


Drive Thru Benefits for the Cannabis Industry

Cannabis drive thrus will cut down on wait times inside the dispensary, while helping dispensaries better track their cannabis products, allowing them to better comply with their state’s cannabis industry standards.

Highway 395, a future cannabis dispensary in Adelanto, California, announced construction will begin soon on their principle facility, which will include a drive thru, according to their CEO, Brad Eckenweiler. This drive-thru would be the first in the state, and would utilize a smartphone application for customers to place orders for pick up at the window, like a pharmacy.

Eckenweiler believes the drive thru will help him track and manage cannabis during every phase of its development, from seed to sale. With the app, Highway 395 may discover important insights into their cannabis sales, which will help them prioritize popular products and ensure no one receives the wrong order.

Moreover, the vertically integrated nature of these dispensary drive thru systems may help cannabis businesses comply with their state’s cannabis regulations. For example, many medical marijuana states require that dispensaries submit information about patient purchases. The failure of product tracking software has caused some dispensaries to halt sales in the past.

However, by tracking and submitting every drive thru/pickup purchase customers make via a smartphone app, dispensaries could ditch the analog system, and have this much needed information on hand whenever their state’s marijuana program comes calling.  

Cannabis drive thrus may increase overall dispensary sales totals, while improving the customer experience both in and outside the dispensary.Would you order from a weed drive thru?


About the Author

Chris Matich is a professional writer, journalist, and editor living in Pittsburgh, PA. Chris blogs for Schenley.net. His writing interests include LGBT+ people/issues, sports writing, and blogging. Chris currently writes about web optimization, blogging practices, medical cannabis, and cannabis lifestyle. He writes fiction and creative nonfiction in his spare time. Linkedin, Twitter

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