Jamie Feaster calls it “Uber for Pot.” The marketing team at Eaze — an app and website where users can consult with doctors to obtain medical marijuana cards, order strains of marijuana and get it delivered — anticipates the legalization of recreational marijuana. Before that happens, Eaze continues to cater to medical users.
California has yet to legalize cannabis for anything other than medicinal purposes — and the Cannabis Advocates Alliance (CAA), a political coalition of Santa Cruz residents and medical dispensaries, hopes it stays that way.
“The commercialization of cannabis in California is likely to end medical cannabis law as we know it,” said CAA attorney and representative Sasha Brodsky. “[In] Washington state, for example, the medical cannabis industry is dwindling, while recreational cannabis skyrockets.”
Within the first five months of 2015, Colorado generated $13.6 million of tax revenue from recreational marijuana sales, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Washington generated $70 million within the first year of legalization and in July, Alaska projected an estimated revenue of up to $19 million.
Brodsky said the incentive to generate state tax revenue is more attractive than the exploration of the plant’s medicinal values, and CAA sees legalization as detrimental to the research of medical marijuana and its availability for patients.
Despite the CAA’s concerns regarding legalization, a poll from the Public Policy Institute of California said 55 percent of eligible California voters are likely to support the legalization of marijuana. And, while Californians await the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative likely to show up on the November 2016 ballot, obtaining marijuana through medical dispensaries remains the only legal option.
In July 2014, Keith McCarty established Eaze, which promises marijuana delivery to take less time than pizza delivery. McCarty explained the platform was created to facilitate the acquisition of medical marijuana in a market where he says “customers are not prioritized.”
On a national average, clinics charge between $50 and $100 for physician consultations, but through Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance, Eaze provides video consultations for $25.
The app is being marketed as medicinal on UCSC’s campus by the company and student brand ambassadors, but is still against the university’s drug and alcohol policies.
“Delivering, furnishing, transferring, manufacturing, using and possessing illicit drugs or drug paraphernalia is strictly prohibited at the university,” said UCSC news and media relations director Scott Hernandez-Jason. “The university does not recognize the privileges associated with a medical marijuana card.”
The medical consultations provided through the online platform are not enough to offset the legal implications for students. UCSC police Lt. Glenn Harper explained Eaze is still viewed as an illegal service.
“The medical marijuana laws do not allow the transportation and distribution of marijuana by third parties who are not direct caregivers,” Harper said. “Since the university receives money from the federal government and federal law prohibits the use, possession or sale of marijuana, the possession, uses and sale of marijuana is prohibited on the campus and all campus related events and facilities.”
Fourth-year Matthew Hutchings said medical marijuana is only legal if no rules are being broken, including university rules. He remains wary of Eaze’s current implications for students, including trafficking charges that could prevent financial aid for students.
“I was reading an article a couple days ago where the CEO said, ‘We want to be everywhere where we’re allowed to be,’” Hutchings said. “And right now there are a lot of places they’re not allowed to be and UCSC is one of those places.”
However, Jamie Feaster, Eaze’s chief marketing officer, called into question why some consider Eaze an illegal entity.
“How is Eaze an illegal service?” he said. “Note that Eaze is a technology platform that dispensaries use to power its CA-legal delivery service for medical patients recommended to use cannabis by their physician. We are not advocating for use on campus or encouraging folks to break campus policy.”
While UCSC and UC Berkeley are the trial campuses for Eaze, residents of the two cities are also eligible to be ambassadors or drivers for the app.
In August, California’s Lt. Governer and UC regent Gavin Newsom said the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016 is likely, but encouraged collective introspection.
“We’ve got to do it right and be thoughtful and deal with the legitimate concerns folks have about our children, and not allowing ‘big tobacco’ come in and do ‘big marijuana,’” Newsom said. “So we want to do it in a very thoughtful way and we want to have that opportunity next year.”