Uber continues U.S. cannabis lobbying efforts

Passage of federal legislation would allow the company to process credit cards for transactions on its app.

Gig economy transportation company Uber Technologies continues to play the long game for cannabis deliveries. The ride-sharing app company disclosed that it has lobbied in favor of S. 2860, Secure And Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, and H.R. 2891, Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking (SAFE) Banking Act of 2023.

Online purchasing is a major problem for cannabis purchases, because the major credit card companies refuse to allow product transactions based on cannabis’ federally illegal status. Many dispensaries often use a workaround to allow consumers to make purchases using a debit card in the store, but the card companies insist that is illegal as well.

Online apps have it even harder, as they have no option but to use card companies for transactions. Getting legislation passed that would allow Uber to handle these transactions would open up this market before any rescheduling change.

Uber Eats

In 2021, Uber began servicing the market in Ontario, Canada, which allowed consumers to place orders for cannabis on its Uber Eats app. Uber Eats listed the cannabis store Tokyo Smoke to start.

At the time, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told CNBC’s TechCheck program that the company might get into the cannabis delivery business in the U.S. once federal regulations make it legal.

“When the road is clear for cannabis, when federal laws come into play, we’re absolutely going to take a look at it,” Khosrowshahi said.

Uber tried a similar tack in the alcohol industry, but that attempt went bust. The company acquired Drizly for $1.1 billion in 2021 after demand soared during the pandemic with people stuck at home still wanting their drinks. Uber announced last week that it was shutting Drizly down.

After three years of Drizly operating independently within the Uber family, we’ve decided to close the business and focus on our core Uber Eats strategy of helping consumers get almost anything – from food to groceries to alcohol – all on a single app,” Pierre Dimitri Gore-Coty, senior vice president of delivery, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

Uber told Green Market Report that Uber Eats—which began its efforts in alcohol back in 2019—now offers alcoholic items on the marketplace in 35 US states and 25 additional countries around the world. However, the company didn’t comment on the cannabis banking lobbying effort.

The company has lobbied on behalf of several transportation measures. Other areas of interest for lobbying from Uber included:

  • Health care policy regarding innovation and compliance for new technologies in the non-emergency medical transportation field.
  • App-based technological advancements specific to economic and entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Data security, privacy, and artificial intelligence.
  • The future of work and the on-demand economy.
  • Worker classification and possible anticompetitive activities that could limit consumers access to app-based technologies.

 

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.


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