Uber Eats and Circle K Are Making Cannabis More Convenient

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NEW YORK, TORONTO, and FLORIDA – International convenience brands Uber Eats and Circle K announced separate partnership deals this week with Leafly and Green Thumb Industries Inc. (GTI), respectively, paving the way for qualified shoppers in Toronto and Florida to purchase cannabis more easily.

The Leafly-Uber partnership marks the first time cannabis will be via a major third-party delivery platform. Torontonians 19+ may place delivery orders through the Uber Eats app through a newly added cannabis category from the first three Toronto dispensaries to participate: Hidden Leaf Cannabis, Minerva Cannabis, and Shivaa’s Rose. According to Leafly, menu data is passed from Leafly to Uber via a custom API integration. Customers will need to be within the delivery radius of the licensed cannabis retailer to place their order.


“We are partnering with industry leaders like Leafly to help retailers offer safe, convenient options for people in Toronto to purchase legal cannabis for delivery to their homes, which will help combat the illegal market and help reduce impaired driving,” said Lola Kassim, Uber Eats Canada’s general manager.

In accordance with Toronto’s cannabis regulations, all orders will be delivered by each retailer’s CannSell-certified staff, meaning independent third-party delivery drivers currently working with Uber and Uber Eats will not be able to deliver cannabis.

“Leafly has been empowering the cannabis marketplace in Canada for more than four years, and we support more than 200 cannabis retailers in the GTA [Greater Toronto Area],” Leafly Chief Executive Officer Yoko Miyashita said. “We are thrilled to work with Uber Eats to help licensed retailers bring safe, legal cannabis to people across the city.”

On the dispensary side, Hidden Leaf owners Marissa and Dale Taylor see the partnership as a “great way for us to expand our reach and grow our business across the city.”

In Florida, the recently announced Circle K-GTI partnership will greatly expand the RISE Express dispensary chain’s footprint through one of the largest convenience store brands in the country. Beginning in 2023, GTI plans to lease space with a test rollout of ten RISE Express-branded dispensaries adjacent to Circle K stores. According to a prepared statement from GTI, Florida patients will be able to purchase a selection of products including RYTHM flower, Dogwalkers pre-rolls, incredibles gummies, and &Shine vapes at the same location where they buy gas and snacks.

“The opening of RISE Express stores at Circle K locations is a game-changer,” said GTI founder, chairman and CEO Ben Kovler. Convenience is a strong channel in retail, and people want more access to cannabis.

“The new RISE Express model is a huge step forward in making it easier and more efficient for patients to purchase high-quality cannabis as part of their everyday routine when stopping by their local convenience store,” he added.

The Leafly-Uber partnership, in particular, raises questions about the future of menu listing and other ancillary technology companies like Leafly, Weedmaps, and Eaze that risk being squeezed from the current online shopping equation by much bigger, better-funded companies with the technology, infrastructure, and desire to deliver the goods.

“This is occurring in a federally legal and mature market—Canada. This is a concern that cannabis-related businesses have—that when other major players are allowed to come into the space the landscape will look very different, and these big players will absorb and acquire existing entities,” said Irina Dashevsky, partner and co-chair of the Cannabis Law practice group at Greenspoon Marder LLP.

“But this deal is also a signal of the normalization of cannabis and a nod that it can be in the same conversation as alcohol. The compliance aspect of this deal will be important and is interesting—to ensure that all age restrictions and regulations are adhered to and that this isn’t an opportunity to game the system. It may be that companies like Uber Eats don’t want to take on the burden of compliance and therefore would prefer to partner—at least in the short term,” she added.

In Florida, the Circle K-GTI deal shows no real threat to the status quo. “The critical thing to note is that only licensed entities can retail cannabis. Circle K isn’t licensed and isn’t allowed to just sublease a license from GTI in a manner that allows it to simply add cannabis to the mix of stuff it retails,” said Dashevsky. “This means you are not buying weed from the Circle K employee at the counter or even from Circle K … you’re buying weed from a dispensary employee who is badged as an agent by the regulator and that weed has gone through the seed-to-sale tracking system and is compliant with all requirements. It’s a neat forward-looking deal and nice to see non-cannabis entities are comfortable with alignment with cannabis entities.