From Lab Rats And Eyeballs To Cannabis: Scarlet Express CEO Discusses Closed-Loop Delivery, How To ‘Survive In Chaos’

First, Claudia Post oversaw the safe delivery of eyeballs, kidneys and other organs. Today? Her specialty is cannabis.

Most recently, she launched Scarlet Express with financial backing from Ben Sopranzetti, vice chair of the Department of Finance and Economics at Rutgers Business School.

The Philadelphia-based startup is a state-approved, closed-loop delivery organization providing discreet, secure and expert cannabis supply chain management nationwide.

And Post is the perfect person for this type of venture. A serial entrepreneur, Post launched MOST Consulting Group, a one-stop shop for cannabis marketing and advertising, and founded Diamond Transportation Group, a same-day, time-critical delivery service, in the early 1990s.

See Also: $2.9B European Cannabis Market: A Strategic Blueprint For Cross-Border Transportation Logistics

Post went on to open 12 warehouses along the East Coast offering trucking, pick-pack-ship, logistics and other services. And anyone who follows the inner workings of the nascent cannabis industry knows that transporting marijuana across state lines is fraught with challenges.

Despite President Joe Biden’s proposal to reclassify marijuana from its position as a Schedule I drug to a less dangerous Schedule III, a mishmash of federal and state laws, combined with varying enforcement policies, makes interstate transport federally illegal and a headache for businesses.

Benzinga spoke with Post at the recent Benzinga Cannabis Market Spotlight event. Here’s what she had to say about the dire need for efficient cannabis transportation:

BZ: How did you wind up in cannabis?

Post: I’ve been in the cannabis industry for 14 years. I opened a marketing communications agency called MOST Consulting. We do design, content, strategy — anything in the communication space. Need a truck wrap? We’ll do a truck wrap.

Also, my son is a very famous glassblower. He makes pipes, bongs and collectibles. His nom de plume is Snick Barnes. He’s in Philly, but he’s known all over the world. And he said, “Ma, you’ve got to get into cannabis. It’s going to blow up.” I said, “Okay.” And he was absolutely right.

BZ: He was ahead of the curve.

I’d like to think our little family is. Then I started going to things like Champs Trade Shows. And when medical cannabis started emerging, I worked with the then-governor of Pennsylvania to bring medical marijuana to the state.

But before that, I had a rather large, multi-state transportation company called Diamond. I had 12 locations up and down the East Coast.

BZ: What were you transporting?

We did same-date, time-critical delivery. Some of my clients were large pharmaceutical distributors like Cardinal Health  so I understand the compliance and the necessity for handling schedule one narcotics, etcetera. We would also move lab rats that were [valued at] $20,000. We would do all kinds of deliveries like body parts, eyeballs, kidneys.

BZ: Organ transplants?


BZ: How much ice do you need to transport organs? A lot, right?

Yes. And it’s a very specialized pickup and delivery. Let’s say the eyeballs were in California. We would get an alert and have our affiliate in Los Angeles pick up the part, and put it on the plane.

All of my drivers were TSA-certified, which means they’re excruciatingly detailed. We put freight in the belly of the plane. And that was tracked through to the operatory and done correctly within the compliance of the TSA.

So, the magnitude of my understanding of being compliant is very high. I would hazard to say, I don’t know anybody in the cannabis industry who has the background that I do — in transportation, anyway.

BZ: Are your hopes high for later this year that cannabis will be rescheduled?

I don’t think it’ll happen this year. But I have hopes. Hope isn’t always a strategy, but I do have hopes that it will happen. And we should have de-scheduling, not rescheduling. De-scheduling means it’s just like we could go buy beer. Rescheduling means it goes into another category that is monitored, tracked, and all that other s—. Sorry, I’m very direct.

BZ: What is the focus of Scarlet Express?

We pick it up at a “grow;” take it to a dispensary; pick it up at the manufacturer; pick it up at a dispensary and take it to you. I’m a startup, and I have letters of intent. The difference between me and others is many years of experience and understanding of what you need to be compliant and mitigate risk.

BZ: What sort of challenges do you foresee in cannabis transportation?

You have a bunch of legislators writing policy, and not understanding anything about delivery. That is what often happens.

Why do things in isolation, when you have a world of people you could call on? Pennsylvania held a symposium where they called in a variety of people to testify, including someone from Massachusetts, which has one of the most onerous [cannabis transportation] policies. Ask experts. Ask somebody who knows what delivery is about.

BZ: How did New Jersey roll out its cannabis program?

It had its problems, just like every other state. It was slow. I testified before the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). This lovely man rented a space, paying something like $18,000 a month, and the CRC is sitting on it for two years. They haven’t actualized his license. Why? My heart bleeds. I ache for people who are being taken advantage of. It’s just terrible.

BZ: What do you want potential clients/investors to know about Scarlet Express?

If someone were to come to me and say, “I’ve got $75 million, and I want to have the largest national delivery service,” I would say, because of my background and years of experience in transportation, “I’m a sure bet.” I already built a large company in transportation. My network is very deep across the country. I also understand high-value, compliant delivery, as well as the insurance component and how to scale anywhere.

I’m a problem solver. The basic thing about somebody in logistics, is you have to be able to survive in chaos. And you have to be able to make decisions quickly, turn on a dime. If there’s ever an issue with a driver, we have to send somebody to relay [cargo] wherever it has to go. You have to be able to think quickly.

BZ: With your expertise, you could handle logistics for anything. Why cannabis?

People always ask me, “How do I get in the industry?” Take a skill set. I know delivery and transportation inside and out. And it just seems natural to me because I own the marketing agency and they sort of dovetail together.

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