Business is finally booming for Kush Cart. It only took three years and a global health crisis to make it happen.

The cannabis delivery service was among the first to launch in Portland after city officials lifted a ban on "weed couriers" in 2017. Since then, the company's three co-founders have done almost everything themselves, from the marketing to the actual deliveries.

But a lot has changed in just the past few weeks. Orders are nearly four times what they were five weeks ago, says co-founder Eddy Martinez Montes—from 30 deliveries per day to upward of 120. The increase in revenue has allowed Kush Cart to hire two full-time drivers and an inventory specialist, and to pay above minimum wage and implement paid sick leave for the first time.

"It was a frantic state here at first," Montes says. "We were lucky to have already been stocking up for 4/20, so we had the inventory to keep up."

Of all the business models to take root since Oregon legalized recreational cannabis in 2015, delivery has had the hardest time catching on. In Portland, where there's a dispensary on every corner, the convenience could never seem to outweigh the delivery fees, nor could customers' apparent reluctance to buy weed without seeing it first. Several businesses have come and quickly gone. Eaze, one of California's largest delivery services, launched in Portland last summer, putting up splashy blue billboards downtown, only to shutter its Oregon operations in February.

But under the cloud of COVID-19, the delivery market is suddenly exploding. It's not hard to understand why.

"I think people want to minimize contact as much as possible, especially higher-risk customers like seniors," says Montes. "One older customer stocked up on every different product category to maximize the order—edibles, flower, vapes—and hit an unprecedented $600 total for a single order."

Other longtime cannabis couriers in Portland are reporting a similar boom. Adrian Wayman, founder of Green Box, which offers both on-demand delivery and a monthly subscription service, says both daily orders and subscribers are way up. Rip City Delivery has seen sales roughly triple since mid-March. Many individual dispensaries, such as Oregon's Finest, also offer delivery, and have experienced an uptick as well.

"People have been really patient and grateful overall," Montes says. "We get comments like, 'You're doing God's work!' And tips have been generous."

Now that delivery is finally taking off, the question becomes: Which are worth ordering from? We tried out five to see how they compare in terms of price, speed and safety. (Note: Rip City Delivery serves West Portland and other select zip codes and could not be reviewed by our writer. Go here to see to see if you're in their delivery area.)

Reviews by Brianna Wheeler

Dutchie (dutchie.com)

Delivery Range: Portland city limits

Minimum order: $50

Payment accepted: Cash, cards

Sample order: An eighth of Super Silver Haze, a half-gram cartridge of Avitas Chocolate Oranges CO2 extract

Time order placed: 2:11 pm

Time of delivery: 3 pm

Overall experience: Rather than functioning as a virtual dispensary, Bend-based Dutchie operates more in the vein of Uber Eats or Grubhub, picking up orders from select dispensaries and bringing them to your door. I was also able to order from a dispensary only a few blocks from me, so the wait time hardly felt like much of a wait at all. My delivery driver wore both a mask and latex gloves and accommodated me putting cash on a table on my porch for pickup. We shrugged at each other and commiserated for a few seconds about how clueless we both felt over this relatively rote transaction. Overall, the experience was sterile but friendly.

Kush Cart (kushcartpdx.com)

Delivery range: Portland city limits

Minimum order: $40

Payment accepted: Cash, CanPay mobile app

Sample order: A selection of Laurie and Mary Jane chocolates (two fudge bars and a tube of five chocolate truffles), two Meraki half-gram pre-rolls

Time order placed: 1:25 pm

Time of delivery: 4 pm

Overall experience: Kush Cart's menu is as robust as any typical neighborhood shop's, with an impressive selection of affordable strains and award-winning edibles, in addition to tinctures, topicals, cartridges and extracts. The delivery driver wore a medical-grade mask and gloves and attempted to maintain proper distance, even as I asked, "How do you want this?"  I clumsily offered a stack of bills with a perilously outstretched arm. "Yeah, I'll just take it. It's fine," they said, gently collecting their cash.

Diem (portland.hellodiem.com)

Delivery range: Most ZIP codes within city limits

Minimum order: $30

Payment accepted: Cards only

Sample order: One gram of Slurricane sugar sauce, 1 gram of Chem Sour shatter

Time order placed: 1:05 pm

Time of delivery: 2:35 pm

Overall experience: Bargain dabs warm my heart and empty my wallet, and Diem has a gorgeous selection that spirals from value buys to top-shelf trophies. Once they arrived, the driver—protected with what looked like a homemade mask—maintained a comfortable distance, taking my card details aloud and entering them manually just off my porch, and signing an X for me so I wouldn't have to touch their phone.

Greenery (getgreenery.com)

Delivery range: Portland city limits

Minimum order: $30

Payment accepted: Cash, cards

Sample order: Two SDK cookies (peanut butter and snickerdoodle), three Mule Extracts gummies

Time order placed: 3:01 pm

Time of delivery: 4:15 pm

Overall experience: Greenery's service requires an approved account before shopping, and the website cautions that approval can take up to 24 hours—in my case, it went through in less than an hour. The virtual shop is limited but well curated, with a typical assortment of cannabis products and a few crucial accessories like papers, pipes, grinders and batteries. The driver, who was apparently new to the job, arrived along with a trainer. Neither wore masks, and the onus of distance was on me, as they nonchalantly offered their phone so I could swipe my card. "Just sign for me," I requested while pushing my face as far away from the two of them as I could without disappearing into my own neck.

Green Box (pdxgreenbox.com)

Delivery range: Portland city limits

Minimum order: $50

Payment accepted: Cash, cards, Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay

Sample order: Indica and Sativa Magic Drops, 1 top-shelf gram

Time order placed: 3:43 pm

Time of delivery: 4:45 pm

Overall experience: Green Box's website promotes its subscription service above on-demand delivery, and it took a few tries to successfully navigate the menu, which is fairly robust. Once I'd successfully ordered, the driver—also the company's co-owner—arrived within an hour, maintained a safe distance, wore a medical-grade mask and gloves, and even coached me when I fumbled paying with my Venmo. As a bonus, now I have an adorable green box to keep future flower orders in.