June 4, 2023 | 2:41 p.m
He still sticks to the Semper Fi motto.
Retired Marine Osbert Orduna runs the metro area̵[ads1]7;s first licensed cannabis home delivery service from a small base in Queens—and promises to faithfully deliver legal weed right to your doorstep.
Orduna, 48, is also the first disabled vet to open a state-licensed marijuana sales business through his newly launched company, The Cannabis Place.
“We are the first to open. More vets are coming, he said.
The son of Colombian immigrants was among the first wave of Marines involved in the 2003 US invasion of Iraq that ousted dictator Suddam Hussein.
The Queens native oversaw a 90-member unit responsible for defusing bombs and checking biological and chemical weapons on the battlefield, and also oversaw convoy security responsible for protecting supply lines.
He is now putting the logistical knowledge to use in his nascent delivery business.
“Many of our suppliers were unarmed contractors who needed protection,” he said.
A Post visit to his “base” found a sophisticated setup with extensive surveillance and GPS technology integrated throughout the operation — not unlike those used by the military, law enforcement and delivery app services like Uber and Lyft. For security reasons, there is no sign from the exterior that a weed delivery system has set up shop there.
Four of the seven workers he has hired so far are military vets.
“We leveraged our skills in the military for the delivery of cannabis. We have a robust emergency communications and dispatch system similar to what we used in Iraq. We have constant communications for security during deliveries,” Orduna said.
“We can communicate live at any time. Everything is under surveillance. We leave the base to deliver. It is a parallel to what we did in the military.”
All deliveries are tracked in real time using the company’s own GPS system to route drivers depending on traffic. Customers receive a text message when a delivery is nearby. Payments are made online by customers – via ACH venmo – and there is no cash exchange. Customers will soon be able to pay directly with debit and credit cards.
“There is no handling of cash in the field,” he said.
The delivery customer base is mostly middle-aged and older — with even an 81-year-old ordering groceries, according to tracking profiles.
“There are many moms and dads, professionals and lawyers who want to deal with stress and anxiety. Our purpose is to make high-quality licensed cannabis available,” said Orduna.
Deliveries occur in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Long Island – with about half in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Under the law, communities can refuse or opt out of approving pot shops in their neighborhoods. Nassau County has completely opted out of on-premise cannabis sales, as have most of Suffolk County’s cities.
But residents can order cannabis delivered directly to their homes, creating huge business opportunities for delivery services. The Cannabis Place does not charge a delivery fee.
“Our purpose is to make high-quality licensed cannabis available,” he said.
Customers appreciate the convenience of the home deliveries, driver Edward Bailey, 68, who served in the Army in the post-Vietnam War era, told The Post.
“They say, ‘Thank you, thank you.’ They don’t have to go out and get it,” Bailey said of the happy faces he sees when he brings their bags of cannabis goodness.
There is a minimum $150 purchase of cannabis products for home delivery. The average order is $300, although some people have ordered more than $1,000 worth of weed or other THC-infused products, Orduna said. Same-day or next-day delivery can be made from 12.00 to 20.00, seven days a week
According to state law, all cannabis products in New York must be laboratory tested.
Orduna relies on a network of 26 different regular cannabis users he knows to try all the products – including weed, vapes, edibles, beverages and salves. The sorters fill in a questionnaire and rate the products on a scale from 1 to 10.
Orduna, who grew up in Woodside Houses, joined the Marines in 1994, seeing it as “an opportunity to get away from the neighborhood.” And marijuana was part of life in the projects and the neighborhood growing up, he said.
When he left the Navy after 10 years, he noticed that vets suffering from PTSD were given addictive prescription opioids like oxycodone. He said he knew a few who committed suicide.
“It’s chemical crap. It’s poison in a bottle. They came home and walked with zombies. Opioids stole their lives,” he said, noting his own experience with the drug after surgery. “I was in the twilight zone. It’s not good for you.”
Orduna became interested in marijuana as a milder, less addictive alternative for disabled vets around the time New York approved the prescription medical use of cannabis in 2014.
The lawmaker and former governor Andrew Cuomo legalized the sale of marijuana for adult recreational use in 2021, though the rollout has been slow and rocky as a huge illegal pot-shop market has proliferated, drawing the ire of New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
The Navy vet visited 50 small or independently owned cannabis stores in five other states to learn more about the cannabis industry.
Orduna said he works closely with the “justice involved” in the cannabis industry who were convicted of marijuana-related crimes when its possession was outlawed — and claims minorities were “collateral damage in the war on drugs.
Disabled vets under the Act are eligible for cannabis licences. But those convicted of cannabis offenses were among the first to get licenses to right the wrongs of the war, Gov. Kathy Hochul and state regulators said.
Although the preference for ex-cons over vets drew resentment, Oduna pressed on, partnering with co-owner Louis Chaloff of The Cannabis Place, who was jailed for selling marijuana when it was outlawed.
Orduna said others who are disabled have obtained licenses to operate cannabis shops but are looking for space to locate their shops, a persistent problem that has slowed the rollout. There are only a dozen outlets operating across the state, including seven in New York City.