What it's like to have cannabis delivered from Toronto's CAFE

Aug 2 2019, 6:01 pm

Toronto’s unlicensed dispensary chain, CAFE, has been making headlines and aggravating law enforcement for months. Yet, while the store’s four locations may be secured behind large concrete bricks — at least for now — the business is still finding ways to get its customers their product.

Last week, police made multiple arrests of individuals selling outside the forcibly shuttered locations, where they confiscated iPads, point-of-sale machines, as well as cash and cannabis.

Quietly operating throughout this ordeal has been CAFE’s delivery service. Found on the dispensary’s website and powered by the punny e-platform Potify.net, CAFE offers a hefty selection of dried flower, concentrates, tinctures, edibles, drinks, topical creams, and even branded hoodies — because nothing screams “illegal weed,” like a dark pullover.

For a country that’s using its regulatory power to make edibles as unedible as possible, the selection is pretty decent. Of course, nary a health inspector’s glove has been laid upon their offerings, so there is, as always when purchasing from a black market, some risk involved.

Accessing the store is easy. Anyone who attests to being of legal age can do so, but if you’re a customer looking for some Death Bubba pre-rolls or peanut butter cookies, you’ll need a piece of ID and a small measure of patience. It took several hours after submitting a copy of my health card before receiving an email confirming that I was ready to buy.

Screen capture of CAFE’s Potify.net page.

The actual shopping experience is pretty straight forward. (If you can order canned mac n’ cheese off amazon, you can probably handle Potify.) Products can be searched for based on name, price, or type, using Potify’s various filters. While fairly streamlined, there’s a lot of information on one page, and felt cluttered.

Customers click from a table of products, getting important information like THC content and background on the strain. Without any kind of certified testing, you’re really taking the store’s word for it. But if you’re a discerning smoker, with a love for the Cinderella 99 bred by Mr. Soul of Brothers Grimm, or prefer a “Diamonds in Terpene Sauce” concentrate, they’ve got you covered.

Prices are more or less in line with dispensary menus across Toronto. Dried flower prices float around $10 a gram, varying higher or lower depending on alleged quality, with some dips in costs when ordering more. It’s cheaper than a majority of the province’s selection in most cases, but still more expensive than what you’re paying if you have a “guy.”

There are two methods available on the service, mail or delivery. Picking up in-store was also once an option, but not something anyone should try any time soon. Delivery is offered all across Toronto, and where you’re located effects the cost. Shipping to downtown is $10 even, while the further out in the GTA the higher the cost.

A map on the e-shop breaks down the delivery costs for the different regions of the city — as well as shipping fees for the rest of Canada.

My order included several different kinds of gummies and a couple of packets of cotton candy. Probably not the best choice for my diet, but they weren’t offering any medicated rice bowls, plus… you know, cotton candy! All said and done the world’s greatest grocery list karate-chopped my wallet for $120 for six items — without any legal pesky sales tax.

cafe

Screen capture of order receipt.

While shipping through CAFE isn’t exactly Purolator, they do offer a very important shared feature — same-day delivery. The company definitely makes good on the promise, though the dispatch time was listed as 1 pm, and the order didn’t arrive until 6 pm. Not unreasonable, but definitely leave yourself enough time so you’re not stuck at your office, waiting for your package to arrive.

The courier, a young man who looked to be in his 20s, called as he was on the way and met me outside. From a backpack, he produced a Point-of-Sale machine and a sealed envelope with my name and the dollar amount of my order printed on a label.

Inside the innocuous manilla packaging was another package. This time made of a thicker black plastic shell with a sliding-seal toggle. It had a child-proof feature that was, for a moment, adult proof.

Everything was in order, as requested, and seemingly as potent as advertised. The only question is do I need to worry about the fact that CAFE – TORONTO appears on my bank record before my next trip south of the border?

Only time, and a trip state-side will tell.