There’s an app for that: Manitoba pot delivery biz first of its kind in Canada

Instead of cannabis delivery needing to be done by the retailer, Manitoba has allowed for third party delivery.

A local Indigenous entrepreneur has taken yet another big and innovative step with his business and soon plans to launch the first and the only legal and on-demand cannabis delivery service in this country, a service that will take legal pot and bring it right to people’s doorsteps.

Back in December, Winnipeg-based business owner Josh Giesbrecht, who owns recreational cannabis retailer Uncle Sam’s Cannabis, launched The Half Circle mobile app, a service that Giesbrecht said will act as an “on demand” mobile service that will work similar to services such as SkipTheDishes or DoorDash, but delivering cannabis to customer’s homes.

For months after launching the app, Giesbrecht said he worked with the Liquor, Gaming and Cannabis Authority (LGCA) of Manitoba to get a delivery license for the business, and on June 14 he received the news that it had been granted.

Giesbrecht said the granting of the license is significant because it is a “first of its kind,” as there are currently no similar licenses for third-party cannabis delivery anywhere else in Canada.

“Manitoba is now the only jurisdiction in Canada that has created the regulatory pathway for a third-party delivery model to act as a cannabis marketplace,” he said. “This newly created license category took us five months to acquire, as this has never been done before.”

And with the license now granted, Giesbrecht said he expects to launch full-service cannabis delivery this fall, a business he said will be like no other ever seen in Manitoba, or in Canada.

“Before this license, any cannabis delivery had to be done by the retailer, but now Manitoba is the only province that has said, through this licensing, that there can be third party delivery in this marketplace,” he said.

“Manitoba has now opened up the door for third-party cannabis delivery with this new license being created and granted.”

And although he is looking to sell products from his own business, Giesbrecht said he also hopes the scope of the service will go well beyond that, as they will welcome other small and large cannabis retailers in the province to join with them, by letting them partner up and have their products delivered through the app.

He says they will release new versions of a mobile app and website for the business later this summer and then officially launch the business sometime in September.

Giesbrecht said he also hopes the new business will be another step towards eradicating the black market for cannabis because he said some who still use black market sellers do so because they are looking for convenience and for cannabis to be brought right to them.

“I’m betting on those last hold-outs that still use the black market being interested in this concept,” he said. “And I think this will be a way for those retailers to bring those hold-outs to them, and away from that black market.

“So we think it’s going to be a win-win for the customers, and for the retailers.”

Giesbrecht, who is originally from the Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, said he was taken from his parents as a child as part of the Sixties Scoop, and grew up in a foster home in the Steinbach area.

He said that as an Indigenous man he has always been driven to succeed, because growing up a lot of the entrepreneurs and business leaders he saw and looked up to didn’t always look like him.

“This is what I want other would-be Indigenous business owners to get from this, if you have an idea and you have that drive, then go and chase your dreams, even if your dreams aren’t in an area where you usually see people that look like you,” Giesbrecht said.

And although Giesbrecht feels confident about what he is planning to launch, he said he also realizes he’s taking a risk by doing something that has never been done before, but that’s a big part of the reason he is so excited to launch his new business venture.

“This is a completely new frontier,” he said. “And as an entrepreneur, it’s exciting to be doing something like this that is totally new and innovative.

“It’s really exciting to be at the forefront of this.”

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.