HIGH TIMES FEATURE: Seattle-Based Marijuana Delivery Service Could Be Using Drones Soon

Squad Drone has been featured on HIGHTIMES.com — Article transcript has been posted below. Authored by Caitlin Donohue

In an effort to save money on logistical costs, a cannabis company has announced its plans to deliver product to Seattle businesses with drones. The high-flying partnership was publicized last month by GRN Holding Corporation, which is carrying out the plan by purchasing the aggressively-named Bellevue, Washington company Squad Drone.

The drones could be hoisting marijuana above your head for test deliveries as quickly as February or March.

“We anticipate the entire industry will adopt this where applicable,” said GRN Holding Corporation CEO Justin Costello in a December press statement, which estimates that the drones will dramatically cut down on the costs associated with getting cannabis to where it needs to go.

“All the flights will be monitored by a command center in Seattle and operated by a licensed pilot,” Costello continued. “We expect hiring about 20 employees in the various cities to hook the drones into charge ports, calibrate them, and ensure the safety totes and computer systems pass flight requirements.”

The company is not the first to announce that it will be dabbling in drones to deliver products. Drones have already been delivering snacks and healthcare products in Christianburg, Virginia, as well as in countries such as Australia and Finalnd.

Amazon has been forecasting drone deliveries for years via its so-called Prime Air program. The mega corporation says that the air system will shave time off its deliveries to customers.

Are Drones More Environmentally Friendly?
Drones have been hyped as an environmentally friendly alternative to ground deliveries, but the reality is that the veracity of the statement depends on certain factors. For one, where the energy comes from that is required to charge their batteries. They also may be more environmentally effective in certain types of delivery networks. Studies have shown that trucks, for example, may consume less energy when serving product to densely located destinations.

MarketWatch reports that GRN Holding has been in the process of testing and customizing six drones over the past year. The machines will be able to manage 40 kilograms of product, and are equipped to operate over a range of 10 kilometers, courtesy of a “GPS navigation system and digital signature interface.”

Currently, the drones are slated to distribute to other businesses, not individual customers. And yes, they’ll be able to take businesses’ money, thanks to the installation of an iPad with CannaTrac’s cashless payment system.

“Basically the cost to run and operate a drone is 1/10th of a van or sprinter,” said CannaTrac CEO Tom Gavin. “So this is not some move to change an industry on just policy or technology, this will change an industry based on safety and cost savings as well.”

A local radio host expressed his concern for the safety of the cannabis drones.

“I wonder how many young toughs out there are going to bring out the old slingshots and try and shoot down a drone carrying pounds of weed,” said Seattle FM show KIRO Nights host Aaron Mason. “I don’t know, but I assume someone has thought about this.”

Cannabis Delivery Drones Could be in Seattle Skies by March

Squad Drone was recently featured on the MyNorthWest.com KIRO Nights with Gee Scott and Aaron Mason podcast — weekdays from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM.

Click to play featured segment audio.

Some say that when it comes to rising industries like cannabis, the sky is the limit. That’s about to be tested by a Seattle based company that plans to use drones for deliveries.

GRN Holdings announced in December that it was signing a non-binding letter of intent to purchase drones for a business-to-business delivery marijuana delivery service.

Originally designed for military operations, the drones will be equipped with iPads for a payment system, and will be flown by highly-trained pilots.

“I’m not gonna lie — that sounds like a fun job,” joked KIRO Nights co-host Aaron Mason.

GRN CEO Justin Costello expects the company to begin making test deliveries in Seattle as soon as February or March.

“It has been hard for me to keep this project a secret, because it is so cool,” Costello said in a December news release. “This is the boldest move yet in the industry we have gotten involved with.”

According to CannaTrac CEO Tom Gavin, drone deliveries will cost roughly a tenth the price of using vans.

“This hits all the needed elements for a true market disruptor,” said Gavin.

While the deliveries will be to dispensaries rather than customers, it also marks a step forward for drone deliveries in Seattle. The idea was first pitched by Amazon, when it teased at “Prime Air” years ago.

“The idea that the idea that it’s being confined to just business to business sounds pretty good,” Mason noted. “But I wonder how many young toughs out there are going to bring out the old slingshots and try and shoot down a drone carrying pounds of weed.”

“I don’t know, but I assume someone has thought about this,” he added.

Listen to KIRO Nights with Gee Scott and Aaron Mason weekdays from 7-10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.