This Canadian company wants to be ‘the Amazon of Pot’

Our Client Namaste Technologies was featured in a story by Yahoo Finance Canada


(L to R): David Sheckter, Aaron Judah, and Daniel Stern, who were the original founders of Cannmart, walk with Sean Dollinger, President and CEO of Namaste Technologies Inc, in the new Cannmart facility being built. (Supplied)

If one company has its way, Canadians will soon be able to order marijuana as simply as they order delivery from UberEats.

Based in Vancouver, B.C. and founded by a Winnipegger and Montrealer, Namaste Technologies Inc. is one of the largest e-commerce platforms for vaporizers and cannabis smoking accessories in the world, with 24 websites in 20 different countries.

But Kory Zelickson and Sean Dollinger aren’t satisfied with just accessories. They say they will become the world’s largest online one-stop shop for everything a medical (and in some markets, recreational) cannabis user needs. They are being hailed as the Amazon of pot, and this March, their master plan really started to take shape.

On March 16, 2018, their subsidiary Cannmart, a medical marijuana distribution company, received its medical marijuana production license (ACMPR) from Health Canada, allowing it to place initial orders for cannabis from other licensed producers and take the first steps towards being approved for a sales license. Once Cannmart is approved for a sales license, the founders of its parent company has big plans.

“What we needed to be able to do to sell cannabis online in Canada is become a licensed producer, but we were the only ones to apply for a ‘sales only’ license. Even though we’ll be a licensed producer and we could grow, we don’t want to grow – we want to have the ability to sell everyone else’s product,” says Sean Dollinger, president and CEO of Namaste Technologies Inc.

On the recreational side, Canada’s upcoming legislation does not allow importation of different strains of cannabis from other countries, but on the medical side, licensed producers can import, leaving the door open for Namaste to offer different varieties from around the world. To that end, the company already signed deals with medical cannabis producers in Israel, Columbia and Jamaica.

“How cool is it if you’re at a party and you can say, ‘Hey man, I just got this Pablo Lime strain from Jamaica?’” says Dollinger.

The power isn’t in the pot, it’s in the platform

Being able to offer potentially limitless varieties of pot to Canadian patients is in the realm of possibility because Namaste isn’t a place, it’s a platform.

It’s a technological middle man, partnering with and giving exposure to other licensed producers. Since they’re strictly a platform  — bringing the product from producer directly to the customer  — there are zero overhead costs. Namaste Technologies can import cannabis at a much cheaper rate than brick-and-mortar dispensaries, growers or wholesale warehouses.

But access to international strains is only the beginning for potential customers.

Namaste is also behind an app called NamasteMD. Available for Android or iPhone, the application allows Canadians seeking medical treatment with marijuana to apply for and be assessed for a medical marijuana license right from their smartphone. It also provides Namaste Technologies with a ready-made customer base to buy the cannabis they sell.

All the Canadian patient and potential customer has to do is create an account, choose from a number of common ailments treated by cannabis that they may have and answer questions related to their discomfort and how they believe marijuana could help them. Once that’s done, the user will be able to book a FaceTime appointment with a doctor or nurse practitioner who will then assess them and hopefully approve them for a medical marijuana license, while Namaste covers the costs.

“The way we look at it is if you’re making an effort to connect with a doctor, you’re already consuming your cannabis in whatever way you’re going to consume it, so why shouldn’t we get it to you in a legal way – a controlled way – where a lot of people don’t know, ‘Do I need a sativa? Do I need an indica? What dose do I need? All of the sudden, you have a doctor helping you with that, so we’re trying to make it an amazing customer experience. Not just, ‘here’s cannabis,’” says Dollinger.

But Dollinger says that the truly amazing customer experience will come when each of Namaste Technologies’ individual subsidiaries come together on a single platform – creating the Amazon-like one-stop shop he and Namaste’s shareholders envision.

“Our idea is you could be shopping on, not even thinking of buying cannabis from us, and a pop-up appears saying, ‘Hey, do you need a medical license?’ Immediately, like Uber connects customers to service providers, we connect you instantly to a nurse practitioner or doctor who will get you your license within four minutes for free,” says Dollinger. “We then throw you on where you can complete your transaction for cannabis from any licensed producer across Canada.”