Boston-based alcohol delivery service Drizly has officially expanded into the cannabis sector with the launch of Lantern, a marijuana delivery platform that connects cannabis users to licensed dispensaries across Massachusetts.
Announced today, the company bills itself as the “first on-demand cannabis e-commerce company” in the Commonwealth. It aims to give cannabis customers a seamless online shopping experience and access to a diverse array of products.
Though it was developed and funded by Drizly, Lantern and its current 10-person team operates independently with support from its alcohol delivery counterpart.
The service is currently available to medical marijuana patients in the greater Boston area who have access to products sold by Revolutionary Clinics. According to Lantern president Meredith Mahoney, additional dispensary partners and service areas are planned and will be announced soon.
Speaking to THCnet, Mahoney said the new entity functions just like Drizly, which doesn’t actually handle any of the alcohol sold via the app.
Indeed, Lantern is not a plant-touching business and therefore does not need a state-issued cannabis license to operate. Instead, the company relies on its dispensary partners to facilitate the deliveries, and in return provides its e-commerce technology, marketing capabilities and logistics experience to help cannabis retailers grow sales and attract consumers looking to shop from multiple providers without leaving their homes.
“The options for the consumer are fragmented,” Mahoney told THCnet, explaining that many dispensaries either require in-store purchasing or have individual online ordering platforms.
“We see this as another way to drive customers to their businesses,” she said.
Lantern hopes that, like Drizly, the largest e-commerce marketplace for alcohol in the U.S., it can become a go-to marketplace for shopping cannabis products from multiple dispensaries.
“We are a truly transactional experience,” Mahoney said. “Everything we built, from a UX and UI perspective, is designed to feel very familiar to the consumer. It’s similar to shopping for a sweater or any other product. We tried to make the navigation really clear.”
Here’s how it works:
Users with state-issued medical marijuana cards can access the Lantern website, search through different flower, vape, edible, concentrate, topical and accessory products, and have orders delivered within an hour.
Lantern charges dispensaries a flat fee for utilizing the service, and consumers do not incur additional charges for shopping on the platform, Mahoney said. However, customers will continue to pay pre-existing delivery fees that are set by individual dispensaries.
About one-third of the five-dozen medical marijuana retailers in Massachusetts currently offer delivery services, and Mahoney said she hopes more of those shops will join the Lantern platform in the coming months.
For dispensary operators that do not currently provide delivery services, Mahoney said Lantern provides a “turnkey solution.”
“The dispensary has to get vehicles and work with the CCC to get delivery approval, but other than that there is not a lot of lift on their end,” she said. “We provide a great solution that will be more relevant in the world we are living in today.”
Although Lantern is only working with medical marijuana dispensaries right now, it plans to expand into the recreational cannabis segment once Massachusetts begins allowing adult-use cannabis deliveries later this year.
“Adult-use is the bigger business opportunity long-term,” Mahoney said, adding that Lantern is closely watching markets around the country that are considering allowing third-party cannabis delivery services to operate.
The launch of Lantern has been a long time coming. Drizly has eyed the cannabis market for years, but over the Lantern project really started taking shape in 2019.
The company’s plans for an online cannabis marketplace came to light last February, when Drizly sued Nick Rellas, a co-founder who departed the organization in 2018. In the suit, it was revealed that Rellas was planning to launch a competing cannabis business using knowledge he gained while at Drizly.
That lawsuit was eventually dropped, and Drizly forged ahead with the development of Lantern.
Funds from the Drizly’s $34.5 million Series C fundraising round, which was led by Tiger Global Management, were used to develop Lantern, Mahoney confirmed.
Tiger recently invested in Greenbits, a California-based technology company that makes retailing software used by more than 1,200 medical marijuana and adult-use dispensaries across 13 states.
A press release with additional information about Lantern is included below.
Massachusetts’ First On-Demand Cannabis E-commerce Company Launches, Brings Online Ordering And On-Demand Delivery To Medical Cannabis Patients
Lantern works with established medical cannabis dispensaries for discreet online ordering and convenient home delivery
BOSTON, May 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lantern, the first on-demand cannabis e-commerce company in the state of Massachusetts, is now available, initially bringing online ordering and on-demand delivery of cannabis to certified medical cannabis patients in greater Boston. Lantern works with established medical cannabis dispensaries to bring their full inventories online and was developed to help patients discover product options through simple navigation, step-by-step questionnaires and clearly presented testing data.
Lantern was developed by the team behind Drizly, the nation’s leading alcohol e-commerce marketplace and experts in bringing highly regulated consumer products online. Lantern is its own separate entity and will operate independently, but it will apply the same rigor and strict compliance to cannabis regulations that Drizly is known for in alcohol commerce—first offering the service to medical cannabis patients, and eventually, to recreational consumers of legal age.
The company is led by retail and e-commerce veteran Meredith Mahoney, who founded and led several portfolio brands for preeminent online retailer Wayfair before joining the fast-growing omni-channel beauty retailer Follain as President. As Lantern’s President, Mahoney will focus on creating a world-class experience around the specific needs and profiles of each individual user of the platform, backed by second-to-none technology, exceptional customer service and the strictest regulatory compliance.
“Lantern is uniquely equipped to bring the long-sought discretion and convenience of online ordering and home delivery of cannabis to patients in Massachusetts, and to evolve as regulations evolve,” said Mahoney. “We launch today with an intuitive digital experience focused on delivering high quality products at the best prices within an hour. We’re gearing up for recreational e-commerce and delivery as well, and we’ll be there to help you find what products are right for you, delivered to your door quickly and safely, once regulations are in place.”
Patients can set up a Lantern account by visiting its website and entering a state-issued medical cannabis prescription number, which grants access to the product offerings of licensed dispensaries in the patient’s area as well as delivery scheduling. Over time, the platform will offer increasingly personalized product suggestions based on each individual’s preferences. Delivery is handled by trained dispensary personnel who accept debit cards or cash and require a state-issued medical marijuana card and photo ID at the point of delivery.
Orders made on Lantern will initially be transacted and delivered by Revolutionary Clinics, one of Massachusetts’s first licensed medical dispensaries. Discussions are underway with additional highly regarded licensed dispensaries, as Lantern carefully builds its network of partners so it can serve additional patients throughout Greater Boston, Massachusetts and nationwide.
Lantern is the leading cannabis e-commerce platform, guiding customers’ discovery process to help them find what may be right for them, and delivering products right to their door. Lantern brings transparency, safety, and convenient access to cannabis for both new and experienced consumers, by partnering with the best dispensaries and cannabis brands across the US, and by creating a personalized shopping and delivery experience.