Gino Gentile may be one of the most popular guys in L.A. He's not an actor or a musician — he's a delivery guy. But he doesn't deliver pizza or laundry. He delivers weed -- direct to the doorsteps of Hollywood stars and average joes alike.
Gentile's company is called Speed Weed, and it's firing up the medical marijuana industry in L.A. Owned and operated by Gino, his brother A.J. and sister-in-law Jen, Speed Weed is getting attention across the country for running a delivery service that's more Domino's or Pizza Hut than Cheech and Chong.
"Part of what our goal is is to raise the entire industry, because this is a business to us and this is important," Jen told Fusion.
Weed delivery services aren't exactly new, but they have grown hugely popular after L.A. cracked down on new medical marijuana dispensaries. And Speed Weed might be the biggest service around: they say they’ve doubled their business in the past year, with nearly 20,000 patients.
"We have a lot of higher-profile people that don't necessarily want to be seen on TMZ coming out of a dispensary," Jen said. "We have a very large female patient base, because it's a much more comfortable experience for them. They know that when they order from us, they have friendly drivers, they have a friendly staff, it comes in a discreet bag."
Speed Weed takes orders from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and offers several strains of marijuana and edibles. Delivery is free, and it takes multiple offices and 28 drivers to meet the demand -- all meticulously tracked in real time on a map. Deliveries take 45 minutes to an hour.
Gino was the first driver, but today he focuses on the company's VIP clients. He says he delivers to over a hundred celebrity clients, such as Sky Blu from LMFAO, who Gino calls a personal friend. Fusion went along on a delivery run to the studio, where he was recording his new album.
"The service is just awesome," Sky Blu told Fusion. "To me, it's the Apple in this industry as far as what they do. They take as much pride in the presentation and how the customer is treated."
The Gentiles say Speed Weed carefully follows the law, requiring every patient to register and provide documentation, including their doctor's recommendation. Drivers rarely carry more than an ounce, and never more than the legal limit of 8 ounces.
"It's very hard to become a member of our collective. We check with your doctor, we make sure your address matches your delivery address," A.J. said.
The owners of Speed Weed say they've built a delivery service the right way; one that's setting the standard for the future as legalization gains steam across the country. There are some legal questions, though.
While medical marijuana has been allowed under California state law for nearly 20 years, the City of Los Angeles passed Proposition D last year, intended to put limits on dispensaries. According to the city attorney's office, it also prohibits delivery services. And marijuana is, of course, still illegal under federal law.
Whatever the specifics of the law, patients appreciate the Speed Weed service. Chelsea Korka is a singer and a client. She told Fusion she was diagnosed with cancer when she was 23 and relies on medical marijuana as a treatment.
"Sometimes you can't get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes you can't get to the doctor to get the medicine that you need. But delivery service goes a long way to help you," she said.
Credit: Bradley Blackburn, Joanna Suarez and Pedro Castro