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How Cannabis Company Caliva Survived a Business-Ending Regulation

When a new law limited how companies can deliver cannabis, Caliva just invested more in their delivery service.

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This story appears in the September 2019 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

In January, delivering cannabis in California became a lot more complicated. That’s when a series of state regulations passed, including a mandate that cannabis companies employ drivers and pay them at least minimum wage -- plus benefits. Unlike most other companies, such as pizza parlors or laundry services, contractors would no longer be allowed.

Courtesy of Caliva

The law quickly killed off a lot of delivery businesses. Many dispensaries couldn’t afford to pay drivers more. But at the California company Caliva, a different conversation happened. Caliva grows its own cannabis, makes its own products, wholesales them, and operates its own store -- but it defines its mission more simply: “ubiquitous access.” That is the brand’s North Star, says CEO and president Dennis O’Malley. Everything it does must be aimed at expanding access to cannabis.

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