Seen from the road, the commercial warehouse at 17 East St. is unassuming. A garage door opens to an exit port in front with a dull office building attached to the side.
The ambitions of its owners, however, are anything but modest; they want their new company, Budzee, to become the first Amazon-style marijuana delivery service in the state and possibly the country.
“That model doesn’t exist anywhere,” co-founder Kevin Perrier said during a recent tour of the facility that opened in March. “You sell directly to the customer.”
Budzee provides a warehouse-style weed delivery system. Although there are currently courier services that pick up marijuana products from retailers and deliver them, Budzee co-owners say they are the first operation to cut out the middleman and deliver directly from their own warehouse.
The company was co-founded by two local heavyweights – Perrier, president and CEO of construction company Five Star Building Corp. of Easthampton, and Volkan Polatol, owner of Bishop’s Lounge and Mulinos restaurant in Northampton – and well-known cannabis consultant Ezra Parzybok.
Polatol and Perrier also own the Dreamer Cannabis retail stores in Southampton and Honey Northampton, as well as a cannabis manufacturing plant on Welmeco Way in Easthampton.
Initially, the company will serve customers in Easthampton, Northampton and Southampton, with a recently launched app. The goal, however, is to quickly ramp up operations to hopefully serve the entire state. For relatives, express delivery will allow them to receive products in less than two hours. The company hopes to open same-day service for this within a 20-mile radius and an advance planning option for those further afield.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission currently grants weed delivery licenses exclusively to those who qualify for the state’s social equity program – those, for example, who have already been harmed by so -called War on Drugs.
Seeded by raid
This is where Parzybok comes in. A staunch defender of medical marijuana, Parzybok was arrested in 2015 after federal agents raided his Northampton home, where they seized 67 marijuana plants – part of his medical marijuana operation in residence. He received probation for the infractions.
Now able to receive a state license, Parzybok said his story has come full circle.
“Budzee wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t been raided,” he said, adding that he has since continued his work as a consultant and advocate who still has a passion for cannabis. “People should have access to what they need.”
Budzee has developed its own software which will serve as the backbone of the business and has hired 12 drivers, part-time and full-time. The co-founders didn’t say how much they pay their drivers, who under state law are required to ride two per car. Perrier had owned the building on East Street for about two decades, deciding it was the ideal location for Budzee, given its proximity to the highway and several municipalities.
The company will offer a wide range of cannabis products – larger than most retailers, which only sell their own marijuana, they said. Budzee also hopes to attract customers with premium buds and cheaper buds.
“It’s about trying to hit a bigger budget,” Parzybok said.
To comply with state regulations and best practices, drivers park in the building’s exit port, which closes behind them. They then head to the building, pick up their next order, get it to safety in their company vehicles, and get back on the road.
When asked how they plan to succeed in a crowded local cannabis market, Polatol said the same would have been asked of Amazon years ago.
“It’s the convenience factor,” he said, with the co-founders noting that once a customer creates a profile with the company, they don’t need to re-enter their information. license or address. “You just log in and we come to you.”
Dusty Christensen can be contacted at dch[email protected]