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European start-up banking on the need for weed

Amsterdam start-up iToke, a kind of alter ego to Kozmo.com, the popular 30-minute delivery service in several U.S. cities, plans to take delivery orders for marijuana starting Sept. 1.

A new start-up is preparing to alter reality in Amsterdam.

iToke, a kind of alter ego to Kozmo.com, the popular 30-minute delivery service in several U.S. cities, plans to take delivery orders for marijuana starting Sept. 1, igniting fires under that country's laws that prohibit marijuana sales outside of coffeehouses.

The company said it plans to let customers order marijuana through WAP (Wireless Application Protocol)-enabled cellular phones. To pay for their orders, people will be able to buy prepaid and rechargeable cards, called iTokens, at kiosks throughout Amsterdam, the site's founders said. With a handheld device, bicycle couriers can read the unique ID of each card at the time of delivery.

"Users will set up a user/address profile--either through a normal browser or WAP--which will remain anonymous. After ordering a product (limited to 2 grams) from a streamlined menu, a courier will arrive within 30 minutes," said Mike Tucker, 33, one of iToke's founders.

Tucker and Tim Freccia, another founder, who have been friends for 20 years and are Seattle expatriates, say they hope to stoke the fires around marijuana use despite its illegal status across the globe.

"We had a coffee moment one day where we realized that our contemporaries are basically the biggest wealth-generating generation of all time and they're all tokers," said Freccia, 35.

"These are not the slackers that everybody thought they were--and they're all forced to toke in their basement," he said. "iToke is not about the legalization of pot, it's about the commercialization of pot culture. It's about giving pot culture a face-lift."

Since the launch of the site, which currently sells only T-shirts, the prospect of delivering marijuana has become a burning topic for many.

"People have offered to quit their jobs to work for us. Lawyers have offered free services. MBAs have lined up. Stalwart e-commerce outlets have offered partnerships," said Tucker, adding that he may deliver some of the orders himself in the beginning.

So far, the company has not announced any major financial backing, but Freccia said it has been "waylaid by investor interest." The company has also said it plans to open cafes in select cities, called iTokeos.

"Much like GovWorks.com wants to privatize central government services, we want to make the multibillion-dollar...marijuana business safe, secure and socially responsible. And want to know what? The public loves the idea. iToke is e-mocracy at work," Tucker said.

But Tucker and Freccia said they are not doing this to end up behind bars, although they fear that may happen when operations hit. "Instead we are both testing our business model and promoting our brand globally within the current legal limits," Tucker said.