This Portland Entrepreneur is Betting He Can Beat the Odds With a New Business Model—Delivering a Box of Pot Each Month to Your Door

Adrian Wayman is trying to pioneer a new way of selling marijuana—to a rarefied clientele.

Adrian Wayman and Marley Lou make a delivery drive. (Abby Gordon)

Adrian Wayman reaches for a locked briefcase bolted to the inside door handle of his Volkswagen Golf.

Inside that case is $400 worth of cannabis flower, edibles and vape cartridges. Wayman is delivering it to a resident of Portland's tallest new downtown apartment tower.

Wayman parks the car outside the gleaming Park Avenue West apartments. A beaming woman in her 40s stands eagerly on the sidewalk. She breaks into a huge grin as he exits the car with the box. She flashes her driver's license and signs a receipt. Then she hugs him.

(Abby Gordon)
(Abby Gordon)

It's a typical rush hour for Wayman, the founder of Green Box and the first recipient of a Portland license for recreational cannabis home delivery.

Wayman, 27, is gay, black and a Southerner. He moved from Atlanta to Portland in 2012 to get out of the South and continue a career in audio engineering. He got married here. Fell in love with skiing. Got a dog, Marley Lou.

But the idea of a cannabis delivery service was never far from his mind.

"I've been selling weed a long time," he says. "People used to call me Adro, because I was always the kid with the dro," slang for high-grade, hydroponically grown pot.

Now Wayman is trying to pioneer a new way of selling marijuana—to a rarefied clientele.

His average customer buys $212 worth of cannabis products per delivery. Subscribers can order a customized monthly box of weed—a little like Dollar Shave Club, but for many more dollars.

(Abby Gordon)

When Wayman started Green Box, he had no idea his customer base would end up being those who are too affluent to bother visiting a dispensary.

But in Portland's crowded cannabis market—which already includes at least a half-dozen weed-delivery companies—Wayman is betting on rich clients as the ticket to success.

"The bigger the orders, the faster we can get out of the hole," he says.

Box subscription services are a hot trend in the Amazon era—whether Birchbox's makeup sample kit or the Barkbox pile of chew toys and dog treats. They typically allow customers to pick a couple items, but the majority of the box's contents are a surprise.

Green Box is different. It allows clients to customize every item that comes in a box, or choose from curated themes like all CBD, high-THC edibles and flower, or just indica-leaning vape pens and topicals. These boxes are the first of their kind in Oregon's retail scene.

(Abby Gordon)
(Abby Gordon)

Wayman decided on delivery because he didn't have the bankroll to open a shop of his own.

"It shouldn't cost you $500K to get into this market," he says. "I didn't have it, but I wanted to be a part of this. Delivery was my only option."

He's at the forefront of a burgeoning delivery culture in Portland.

(Abby Gordon)

Rip City Delivery and Kush Cart are two other retail couriers with their own inventories they must manage, like a dispensary. Briteside and Stemless also provide delivery services—these companies are middlemen between partner shops and the customers in their direct vicinity. Diem falls somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, delivering in Portland and Salem, where it's connected to a Diem retail shop.

The challenge for all these companies is the same: Portland weed consumers seem wary of deliveries in general.

Wayman estimates Green Box  has only about a hundred regular customers, and he makes about three deliveries a day on average.

(Abby Gordon)

Several couriers tell WW that shoppers seem unsure whether these delivery services are legit.

"It's been difficult to adjust people's mindsets," says Lisa Hopkins, one of the founders of Kush Cart. "When I tell people I run a cannabis delivery service, the first question they ask is if that's legal."

For a while, it wasn't. Portland city officials banned cannabis deliveries shortly after voters legalized Oregon recreational weed in 2014.

Wayman saw only one path forward: Change their minds.

(Abby Gordon)

Knowing the mere word "delivery" made the City Council recoil with fears about the safety of minors and drivers, Wayman proposed that delivery services essentially operate as retail shops. That they follow the same security and tracking regulations, though a customer would never have to walk through the front doors.

The City Council approved cannabis couriers in December 2016, and the first licenses rolled out over the summer of 2017.

Wayman also negotiated with the city to permit couriers to conduct business within 1,000 feet of other shops and dispensaries.

Seven months later, Wayman says he is still trying to spot patterns in his customers: software engineers, retirees and stay-at-home parents. "It's hard to know what to change or adjust," he says, "because I am still learning what people want."

But he didn't expect this to be easy.

(Abby Gordon)

"We are still figuring things out," he says, "but I'm inspired to be the pioneer—the gay, black guy trailblazing the way for whomever and whatever comes next."

Being the only person of color at city rules hearings motivated him. He sees himself as a role model.

"I saw it as an opportunity to show everyone back home what is possible, show that you didn't have to be white or rich to join this industry," Wayman says. "It inspired me to be the one to prove that you can start something here without those resources."

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