Seen from the road, the commercial warehouse at 17 East St. is unassuming. A garage door opens up to a sally port in the front with a drab office building connected to the side.
The ambitions of its owners, however, are anything but modest; they want their new company, Budzee, to become the first Amazon-esque delivery service for marijuana in the state and possibly the country.
“This model doesn’t exist anywhere,” co-founder Kevin Perrier said during a recent tour of the facility that opened in March. “You’re selling directly to the customer.”
Budzee provides a warehouse-style delivery system for weed. While there currently exist courier services that pick up marijuana products from retailers and deliver them, Budzee’s co-owners say they’re the first operation to cut out the middleman and deliver directly from their own warehouse.
The company was cofounded by two local business heavyweights — Perrier, the president and CEO of Easthampton construction firm Five Star Building Corp., and Volkan Polatol, the owner of Bishop’s Lounge and Mulinos Restaurant in Northampton — and well-known cannabis consultant Ezra Parzybok.
Polatol and Perrier are also the owners of the retail stores Dreamer Cannabis in Southampton and Honey Northampton, as well as a cannabis manufacturing facility 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 those in close proximity, express delivery will allow them to receive products in less than two hours. The company hopes to open a same-day service for this within 20 miles, and a schedule-ahead option for those farther afield.
The state’s Cannabis Control Commission is currently awarding weed delivery licenses exclusively to those who qualify for the state’s social equity program — those, for example, who were previously harmed by the so-called war on drugs.
Seeded by raid
That’s where Parzybok comes in. A vocal advocate for medical marijuana, Parzybok was arrested in 2015 after federal agents raided his Northampton home, where they seized 67 marijuana plants — part of his home-based medical marijuana operation. He received probation for the offenses.
Now able to receive a license from the state, Parzybok said his story has come full circle.
“Budzee wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t 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 built out its own software that will serve as the company’s backbone and has hired 12 drivers, part time and full time. The cofounders did not say how much they pay their drivers, who under state law are required to ride two to a car. Perrier had owned the building on East Street for some two decades, deciding it was the perfect location for Budzee, given its proximity to the interstate and multiple municipalities.
The company will offer a wide range of cannabis products — larger than most retailers, who only sell their own marijuana, they said. Budzee also hopes to attract customers with both high-end buds and less expensive ones.
“This is trying to reach a wider budget,” Parzybok said.
To comply with state regulations and best practices, drivers pull into the building’s sally port, which closes behind them. They then head up to the building, pick up their next order, secure it in their company vehicles and head back out on the road.
When asked how they intend to succeed in a crowded local cannabis marketplace, Polatol said the same would have been asked of Amazon years ago.
“It’s the convenience factor of it,” he said, the co-founders noting that once a customer creates a profile with the company, they no longer have to enter their license information or address again. “You just get online and we come to you.”
Dusty Christensen can be reached at email@example.com.