“In every market that we’re in, we want to make sure that social equity is prioritized and supported.”
Massachusetts residents waited for recreational cannabis delivery for years.
Now, in a lot of places, people are instead finally waiting for legal dropoffs of fat bags and dosed chocolates.
And thanks to the rolling network organized by Lantern, which bills itself as the “leading on-demand cannabis e-commerce marketplace and home delivery platform in the US,” as of last month heads in Quincy, Brockton, Marshfield, Rockland, Abington, Kingston, and Plymouth have the same access that Greater Boston consumers have enjoyed since last summer.
We asked Lantern Co-founder and CEO Meredith Mahoney about their economic empowerment partnership with South Shore Buds and retail delivery alliance with Health Circle, plus the company’s plans for the future.
First off, obviously our readers want to know how you got the list of places you are delivering to: South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy, Brockton, Marshfield, Abington, Rockland, Kingston, and Plymouth.
It’s important to note that not every town in Massachusetts has opted into recreational cannabis delivery and there are many towns outside of Boston that do not allow cannabis delivery at all. So Lantern and our partners have to be very careful about targeting areas where customers can legally receive the product they want delivered. When narrowing in on the list of towns that have approved delivery, you’ll see we now cover the majority of areas in the south shore that have opted into delivery … if we haven’t yet, hopefully we will soon.
What’s the longer-term plan to roll out beyond those places?
We’ll continue to expand our dispensary partners in greater Boston, offering the Lantern customer more selection, more delivery windows, and a more personalized experience. The North Shore will launch later this spring, and outside of Boston, we’re gearing up to launch in Denver.
Lantern operates in other places as well. What are some dynamics and ideas that you have learned elsewhere that your team is now bringing to Mass?
While delivery dynamics and regulations may vary by state and we navigate that as a business, what is consistent is that customers want high quality product delivered in a safe, reliable, and consistent way, and we aim to bring that to every market that we serve through our dispensary partnerships. If we notice one brand that customers love in one market is now available in a different one, then we’ll work to find dispensaries who carry that product and introduce this customer favorite where it’s missing. That’s one of many ways we try to bring our learnings from one state into other locations.
How did you pick Buds and Health Circle as your South Shore partners?
Health Circle and South Shore Buds are both great dispensaries with wide selection, great prices, and great service. Their teams have both been great to work with, and most importantly they really believe in meeting customers where they are. In a post pandemic world, delivery reigns. Both Health Circle and South Shore Buds understand that, and they are both ready, willing, and able to invest in a great delivery experience for their customers.
Who are the people who will be delivering our cannabis?
In Massachusetts, recreational cannabis is delivered by licensed third-party cannabis delivery companies, which are all owned by social equity applicants. We work closely with these companies (whose founders we met and got to know well through our social equity incubator) as well as the dispensaries to make sure that the customer has a great experience with their delivery.
Tell us about the Lantern marketplace and what you’ve done to make for the best possible shopping experience there since it’s different from shopping in a physical store.
Access is one of the bigger challenges customers face when shopping for cannabis in Massachusetts. Dispensaries within Boston are few and far between and many require you to wait in line (sometimes for a while) before being able to shop. On Lantern, consumers are able to browse without the pressure of being at the dispensary’s physical location. Consumers are able to browse and sort by effect or feeling, understand what product is right for their goals, compare pricing for similar products across dispensaries to find the best deal, and select a convenient time for it to be delivered safely and discreetly.
It now feels like the people of Mass have been waiting for delivery for quite some time. What’s your plan for getting the word out about your service, all while keeping sure that you can meet the demand?
If you walk down the street in any Boston neighborhood today, you’ll see Lantern everywhere. We’re looking to reach 21+ cannabis consumers where they are—walking their dogs, going to concerts, sitting at a bar having a beer. Cannabis advertising has a lot of restrictions, so it forces a lot of creativity.
And on that note, what do you see as your main challenges moving forward? What are some parameters or the regulations, if any, that your team feels could use some finessing?
A challenge for the companies we work with is the pace at which they get licensed and the capital needed to create a successful business, especially when financing options are limited vs. other industries. We have navigated this by putting in place incubators in the markets where we operate to help equip new social equity owned businesses with as many tools as possible to set them up for success. In every market that we’re in, we want to make sure that social equity is prioritized and supported via regulations so we can help create a cannabis industry that is equitable and just.
Anything else on the horizon that our readers should be excited about?
Look for our iOS app launching later this spring, with lots of great features to personalize the customer experience, enable the discovery of great new brands and strains, and to match the right products to each individual consumer.
Citizen Strain/Grain is an amalgamation of a bunch of us who, in addition to the hard and oftentimes depressing journalism we report for the Dig, also enjoy sampling and writing about the various beers, spirits, and cannabis products that vendors from near and far send our way. If you want us to check out your product, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.