Lakeside Delivery revolutionizes the modern-day drug deal.

By Carter Sherman

The 2013 FBI shutdown of The Silk Road, an online black market where users regularly trafficked illegal drugs, sparked the Internet’s imagination and gave rise to other similar operations. Now, ordering drugs right to your doorstep is astonishingly easy with some creativity and connections – just text Lakeside Delivery, a local drug delivery service.

“It’s more consistent and quicker than [an in-person dealer],” customer Jackson* says. If he sends the right message to the right number, a marijuana dealer will arrive at Jackson’s apartment within the hour.

“We were all really sketched out at first, because we were like, ‘That’s probably not the best way. It could easily be a cop. Don’t do it,’” fellow client Tyler says of his first time using Lakeside. But Tyler’s friend took the plunge anyway.

“We were like, ‘Well, if he did it, we could all do it,’” Tyler says. “And we’ve all been doing it since.”

Marijuana in the news
Washington state and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana for people 21 years old and up.
Alaska and Oregon legalized recreational marijuana. Alaska’s law took effect in February 2015, and Oregon’s will begin in July 2015.
Marijuana became legal in Washington, D.C.

Tyler, who regularly bought weed in person before discovering Lakeside in the fall, believes the service decreases his risks of getting caught or hurt because he’s no longer interacting with random strangers.

“It’s unfamiliar and it’s very sketchy,” he says of traditional drug deals. “So this whole ‘They’re coming to me in a place that I know, with people that I know’ makes it a lot more convenient and comfortable.”

This is the real question in the brave new world of online and mobile drug delivery. Which is more likely to get you caught: ye olde drug dealer handshake in a public space, or a cyberspace contract where no one can catch you red-handed but the record is forever preserved?

“You can lose sight of the fact of what you’re doing,” says Riley, a Lakeside customer who’s used the service since September. He’s never bought weed in person and instead relied on friends to buy for him, he says, because meeting drug dealers seemed too shady. Now, he orders from Lakeside a little more than once a month. “Even though it doesn’t really make too much sense when you think about it, in the moment it seems less risky.”

Types of marijuana
Indica: Known for its relaxing high
Sativa: Known for its energetic high
Hybrid: A mix of indica and sativa

To see a menu, customers must supply two referrals from people who already use the service. The menu tends to consist of at least three different weed strains, and is accompanied by enough winking emojis to mortify a preteen. These strains are typically available in units of an “eighth” – one-eighth of an ounce or around 3.5 grams of marijuana – and priced between $50 and $60 depending on quality. Lakeside only offers marijuana products, including edibles and liquid THC, the chemical responsible for a user’s high.

Lakeside is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, and deliveries usually take from 15 minutes to an hour. The etiquette is like interacting with a pizza delivery guy, clients say.

"You don't chill with your dealer anymore. You don't hang out with the guy when you're not picking up.
You just pick up.
It's purely a business transaction."
– James

Customers place an order simply by texting their address. The courier rings the doorbell on arrival while Lakeside simultaneously sends a text alert. It’s up to the customer whether to let the dealer into the house or to buy the drugs outside. Depending on the speed and quality of the delivery, some clients even tip.

To protect its customers’ anonymity, Lakeside never asks for more than first names. But Tyler isn’t so sure that such security measures are enough.

“In the back of my mind, I’m like, ‘You know, something could get traced back to me,’” he says. “I’m assuming that nothing, hopefully, will come back to me. But I don’t know.”

Still, none of the clients interviewed say they plan to stop using Lakeside Delivery. The risks seem too small, and the rewards too easy.

“The cops have bigger problems to worry about than me,” Jackson says.

In fact, Riley thinks Lakeside’s operation might be the way of the future. With medical marijuana increasingly legal and punishments for marijuana possession on the decline, he envisions a United States where everyone can order pot with the push of a button.

“What can’t you get straight off your phone delivered to your front door?” he says. “Why not extend that to weed too?”

*Editor’s Note: Names have been changed to protect the identity of Northwestern University students.