5 Questions With Megan Halstead Miller: COO At Eaze Cannabis Delivery Platform

About Eaze: Eaze, California’s largest marketplace for legal cannabis, connects adult consumers with licensed retailers and products. Eaze is on a mission to enhance safe access to legal cannabis, educate people about cannabis as a tool for wellness and drive smart cannabis policies. www.eaze.com.

Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself? What brought you to the cannabis/botany world? Healing? What was your inspiration to do what you do?

Megan Halstead Miller=MHM: I’ve always been happiest when tackling hard problems. A month before graduating from business school, with a job in M&A banking lined up, I woke up one morning and thought, “What am I doing? Banking is going to bore me to death.” I realized I wanted to help build something new, and so I ditched the banking plan and joined Amazon in 2002. I spent five years helping them navigate rapid expansion and was part of the team that launched their apparel and sporting goods categories, the first major third-party merchants selling on the site. The experience honed my interest and skills in operations and finance, and I went on to e-commerce and finance positions at Yahoo! and Walmart.com. Then in 2017, I signed up for Eaze as a customer. It took 45 minutes to get my medical card, 13 minutes for the delivery, and I said to myself, “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread.” I thought the service was operationally impressive, so I did my research and was drawn in by the industry’s positive impact on healthcare, opioid addiction, veterans’ wellbeing and more. Working for Eaze was a natural fit. I’m inspired by the vast, wide open opportunities in cannabis. For people who like hard problems, this industry never stops giving.

WB: Please tell me about your company? What do you do that’s different, therefore better than your competition? What stigmas do you face?

MHM: Eaze has changed a lot since its inception. For its first five years, Eaze was a technology platform that connected licensed brands and retailers to consumers via on-demand delivery. In February 2020, we pivoted to a verticalization strategy and started managing our own deliveries through a separate operation. While the customer experience hasn’t changed, on the backend it’s Eaze 2.0, with part of the Eaze family handling the technology platform and another team focused on delivery operations. We’ve completed over six million deliveries to-date, and are on track to be the largest cannabis employer in California by the end of 2020.

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I think our social impact program sets us apart. Like most people from a privileged background, I smoked cannabis in college and nothing negative happened. I didn’t go to jail, I didn’t get a record, my life continued. As we all know, that’s the opposite of what happens to many Black and brown people, and so, as a cannabis company and as individuals working at a cannabis company, inaction isn’t an option. Fortunately, it did not take national protests for Eaze to see that. In 2017, Eaze hired our director of social impact, Jennifer Lujan, who’s built a strong program to help address the War on Drugs. I’m excited about the second year of Momentum, our business accelerator and grants program for BIPOC, female, and LGBTQ+ founders. We’ve launched our menu of social equity brands into LA’s massive market, which is great for those businesses and consumers who want to buy conscientiously. We’re statewide and 100% licensed; unlike many competitors, we only carry legal brands and deliver from legal retailers.

In the past, Eaze faced stigma from people who didn’t understand how the platform connects small businesses and brands with customers. It was seen as Big Cannabis rather than as an ecosystem of smaller entrepreneurs. Now, with COVID and the designation of cannabis delivery as an essential service, I think most stigma is a thing of the past and that customers know we’re all about top quality, best value and universal access.

WB: What is your six and twelve-month plan? What obstacles exist in your professional world? How do you anticipate removing them?

MHM: I have two children in elementary school and so like other parents, I’m juggling their education with COVID, quarantine, and work. Personally, I feel like it’s hard to make a six or a twelve-month plan right now, so I’m focused on the day to day, because what’s ahead is unknown and worrying isn’t super productive.

For Eaze, our six and twelve-month plans involve verticalization, profitability, expansion and—I hope—changes federally to help the businesses who make up Eaze’s ecosystem thrive. In California, there are big challenges facing the industry. Some communities are still trying to ban cannabis delivery, and delivery services are handicapped by very low limits on the amount of product that can be kept in cars. These kinds of bad policies restrict access, hurt licensed businesses, and buoy illegal operators—the exact opposite of what legalization was supposed to fix.

WB: What is your favorite food memory from childhood? What does your favorite (birthday) meal look like now? Favorite food?

MHM: Honestly, one of my favorite meals is an In-N-Out double single animal style burger—I don’t eat it often, but that’s seriously my favorite meal. Beyond that, it’s any meal that someone else cooks, because between work and online schooling I’ve never been busier.

WB: What is your passion?

MHM: My husband and I were really passionate about travel before we had kids, and this last December we took our children on their first international family trip, which was unbelievably fun. Obviously with COVID, we’re not making any travel plans, but we are looking forward to more family adventures when life eventually gets back to “normal” for everyone. In quarantine, I love watching figure skating to relax. I grew up as a competitive skater, and for several years trained with Tonya Harding in Milwaukie, Oregon, where we shared a coach. WItnessing Tonya’s drama up close shaped not only my approach to skating, but also my approach to life. Tonya had incredible natural talent, but her rebellious nature held her back. Winning required hard work, focus, and perseverance—and it was a lot more fun than losing!

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