Two months ago, Uber acquired the alcohol delivery service Drizly for $1.1 billion. And with booze now in its portfolio, the ridesharing app has begun looking ahead at another frontier: marijuana. On CNBC’s “TechCheck,” host Carl Quintanilla referenced New York State’s recent legalization of recreational weed during his video chat with Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Quintanilla noted that Governor Cuomo has discussed permitting delivery apps to contribute towards the state’s marijuana industry with their services and the executive about his thoughts.
Khosrowshahi said that company strategy is to first focus on “the types of deliveries that a high percentage of consumers are going to want delivered fast into their home and are quite frequent,” highlighting “food, grocery, pharmacy and alcohol” as the categories where Uber concentrates its energy. But he then added that nationwide legislation is what will determine if the company takes any future interest in the weed market.
“When the road is clear for cannabis when federal laws come into play, we’re absolutely going to take a look at it,” he said. “But right now with grocery, with food, with alcohol, et cetera, we see so much opportunity out there, and we’re going to focus on the opportunity at hand.”
Khosrowshahi’s response somewhat echoes his position from February when Quintanilla asked him virtually the same question. Uber’s acquisition of Drizly brought up the question of whether the purchase also included Drizly’s sub-company Lantern, an offshoot that focuses on cannabis delivery in Massachusetts, Michigan, and Colorado for the time being. But Uber chose not to pick up Lantern as part of the agreement to purchase its parent company.
“Moving forward, Drizly’s founders, investors, and board members will serve as strategic advisors to Lantern while the company’s management team, staff, and core product remain the same,” said Lantern president Meredith Mahoney. “As the demand for safe and convenient access to legal cannabis soars across all demographics, Lantern will continue developing new pathways to connect local dispensaries, brands, and consumers with each other.”
However, it appears the road to nationwide legalization may take longer than cannabinoid lovers may want to hear. President Biden has long been known to take a hard stance against legalized adult marijuana use. Talk of lessening sentences against it was floated during his campaign, but no action has been taken in that direction since his appointment.
At the March 30 White House Press Briefing, the topic came up again, and Press Secretary Jen Psaki diplomatically addressed it with the following remark (around the 27:32 mark): “[President Biden] believes in decriminalizing the use of marijuana, but his position has not changed.” And when she was more directly asked about “an end the federal prohibition” of marijuana, Psaki doubled down and reiterated that “[n]othing has changed.”