Weedmaps faces lawsuit over fatal weed delivery shooting

Published Feb 17, 2021 12:00 p.m. ET
iStock / sangriana

For most of us, the hardest part about ordering weed delivery is deciding between so many fantastic strains, because being forced to select only 1 or 2 almost seems cruel, but these transactions aren’t always so blissful.

Customer service gigs of any kind can be challenging, contending with unhappy people who blame you for things you have no real control over while learning the layout of an entire town or city. Still, you probably wouldn’t jump right to assuming that it’d be so stressful that the familiar interaction between delivery driver and consumer could end in a deadly shooting.

Sadly there are many risks for delivery drivers in this day and age to contend with, as they cruise around often openly tagged with obvious signs that there is a fair amount of money inside. Even when they aren’t, it’s really easy for tricksters and thieves to lure these unsuspecting workers into a situation that no one should ever have to be in.

All it takes is one untraceable phone call, for someone with money and expensive cannabis goods to show up, with almost no questions asked, and we openly recognize this very real risk, but few ponder the possibility of a driver turning on an innocent customer. Unfortunately, like a scene cut straight out of a horror movie, this exact scenario played out, and Weedmaps might soon be paying the price for the deadly mistake.

The story

The controversial online cannabis advertising platform Weedmaps and Southern California Vape Universal Stop have been slapped in civil court with a wrongful death lawsuit by the mother of a man who claims that her son was shot to death due to the negligence of both companies. William Benjamin Harris, a 19-year-old, was the victim of a fatal shooting in June of 2019 by David Christopher Gregorich, a weed delivery worker.

David who was an employee at Altendena Vape Shop has been formally charged with murder along with several other different crimes related to this case, but he’s always pleaded not guilty claiming that the act was in self-defense. According to his lawyer, Gregorich only fired on William because he believed that the young man was out to rob him when he approached the delivery vehicle.

Harris was the one who had placed the order for cannabis through the popular platform Weedmaps. He had requested delivery at the specified address mere hours before the incident. Somehow when the driver arrived, communication broke down, and the 19-year-old lost his life as a result of a weapon yielding delivery salesman.

The company when questioned has declined to comment on the case filed in Los Angeles County through California Superior Court. The suit alleges that both Weedmaps and Universal Stop were negligent, and as a result, they should take at least some responsibility for the loss of life, but that’s not all. The civil suit also makes other claims, including:

  • Harris was underage and no attempt was made by either company to verify his age before making the delivery

  • Universal Stop and Weedmaps have a history of deliveries that have gone horribly wrong, many of which directly involved the delivery driver in question

  • Other Universal Stop drivers have been found to be carrying weapons while delivering cannabis products
    Photon Muur, Harris’s mother is suing Weedmaps, Altendena Vape Shop, Universal Stop, and she named all three parent companies in the civil suit, including Weedmaps Media, WM Holding Co., and Ghost Management Group.

Why it’s relevant to consumers

Could you imagine walking up to greet your delivery driver only to be shot dead in your tracks? Of course, we don’t yet have all of the details on this specific case, but the fact that this is a possibility and a very real risk that was never addressed before now, should be of real concern for cannabis enthusiasts who reside in states with more relaxed gun laws. This is not a situation that any customer should face during a simple weed delivery, and steps will need to be taken to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.

A business owner’s nightmare

In a day and age where delivery drivers are often hired through third-party businesses with minimal if any vetting process, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that a situation like this is a very real possibility. Of course, in the case of fast food delivery, where payment methods are mainly done online, the job has gotten safer over the years, but weed delivery drivers and the companies who hire them face some barriers, with few banking options and larger than normal amounts of cash on hand.

To make up for this significantly increased risk, delivery companies and dispensaries are going to have to step up their game by properly vetting employees for the safety of everyone involved. Criminal background checks and zero-tolerance policies for the carrying of weapons on the job might soon become a requirement right across the United States, but it’s a real shame that this problem is only now, after taking a life, garnering the attention needed to make a difference.

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