Quick Hit: Delivery Options for California Cannabis Businesses

California delivery driver

Are you looking to add cannabis delivery to your dispensary in California?

Compliance needs to be your primary focus. The state is riddled with delivery regulations and cannabis laws that vary from city to city. What is legal in Los Angeles may not necessarily be legal in San Francisco.

Read on to understand your delivery workflow options, including the hardware, employees, and operations you'll need for a pizza or ice cream truck style of delivery.

Note: These workflows are specific to California retailers. Local regulations may vary. Consult your legal cannabis counsel before implementing delivery programs. The workflows outlined within this post are not intended for use as operating procedures, and require verification for compliance. The requirements listed are not comprehensive of all Department of Cannabis Control regulations.

🍕 The "Pizza Shop" delivery model

This popular delivery setup looks and functions essentially the same as your favorite late-night pizza delivery spot. Cannabis goods are compliantly picked and packed from a central location – often a brick-and-mortar dispensary, or in some cases a delivery-only retail location that is not open to the public.

This central location serves as a place for cannabis products to be prepared for delivery in compliance with state and local regulations. As customers place orders, deliveries are made one transaction at a time.

The "pizza shop" delivery model is sometimes referred to as "hub and spoke" or "beehive" delivery.

pizza delivery

Requirements:

  • Delivery vehicle that meets the safety and storage requirements set forth by the Department of Cannabis Control and your local jurisdiction
  • Delivery driver with a compliant vehicle and GPS
  • Cannabis point of sale system, like Flowhub
  • Cannabis ecommerce solution, like Dutchie, Jane or Weedmaps — ideally with POS integration

Nice to have, but not required:

Note: The above is not intended to be a complete summary of all delivery requirements.

Here’s how it works:

Customer: The customer places the order online. Your ecommerce partner (like Dutchie, Jane or Weedmaps) will send the order to your cannabis business for fulfillment.

Dispensary
: The fulfillment team or budtender at your dispensary prepares the delivery order in your cannabis point of sale software. If your POS is integrated with your delivery provider, the order will automatically appear in your POS when it’s placed. If not, you’ll have to manually enter the information.

Driver:
A driver will be assigned to pick up the cannabis products from your shop and take them to the customer. Your ecommerce provider will notify the customer that their order is on the way. The delivery driver will arrive at the customers’ delivery address, check ID, collect payment, and give any necessary change to the customer.

Closing the sale can be done in any of the following ways:

  • Your driver closes the sale on a mobile tablet through your POS system.

  • Your driver calls your store staff with details to close the sale in your POS.

  • Your driver records the sale details manually to close the sale in your POS when they return to your store.

That’s it! Your pizza-style delivery is complete. Make sure you report the cannabis sales to Metrc just like any other transaction to maintain compliance.

Keep in mind that you may be able to complete multiple deliveries in one trip depending on your local cannabis regulations in California.

🍦 The "Ice Cream Truck" delivery model

An alternative to the pizza setup is the ice cream model, where a driver carries inventory in their vehicle and makes multiple deliveries at a time. The driver may not leave the licensed premises until at least one delivery order has been received and processed, and must carry a ledger of all cannabis goods provided.

The retail value of cannabis goods carried in the delivery vehicle for which a delivery order was not received and processed by the cannabis retailer prior to the delivery employee departing from the licensed premises may not exceed $3,000.

The total value of cannabis goods carried in the vehicle may never exceed $5,000. If the delivery driver does not receive a delivery request for a 30-minute period, they must return to the licensed premises.

The "ice cream truck" delivery model is sometimes referred to as a "warehouse on wheels" or "dynamic" delivery.

ice cream truck

Requirements:

  • Delivery vehicle that meets the safety and storage requirements set forth by the Department of Cannabis Control and your local jurisdiction
  • Delivery driver with a compliant vehicle and GPS
  • Cannabis point of sale system, like Flowhub
  • Cannabis ecommerce solution, like Dutchie, Jane or Weedmaps — ideally with POS integration
  • Wireless tablet, like an iPad (must have an internet connection)
  • Receipt printer
  • Label printer (if applicable)

Nice to have, but not required:

  • Cannabis delivery dispatcher software, like OnFleet to help automate the process
  • Mobile scanner to check IDs and manage inventory on the go
  • Payment terminal for non-cash payments (if applicable)

    Note: The above is not intended to be a complete summary of all delivery requirements.

    Here's how it works:

    Customer: The customer places the order online. Your ecommerce partner (like Dutchie, Jane or Weedmaps) will send the order to your cannabis business for fulfillment.

    Driver: The delivery driver will prepare the order on their tablet in real time, print the labels, and package the products. Once they arrive at the customer’s door, the driver will check the customer’s ID, take payment, give them their products, print their receipt, return any necessary change, and complete the order in their POS on their tablet.

    Closing the sale: For optimal compliance, your driver should close out all sales through your POS system on a mobile tablet. Additionally, make sure you’re reporting all sales to Metrc.

    Viola! Your ice cream truck home delivery is complete. The driver can get back on the road to the next customer.

    Hybrid delivery

    Some cannabis businesses offer delivery that includes elements of the two workflows above. For example, perhaps you have a classic pizza-style delivery driver for orders within 5 miles of your dispensary and dynamic ice cream truck-style for a radius outside of that to maintain efficiency.

    Workflows and requirements would be the same as above, depending on how you structure your delivery operation. Check with your local regulations to ensure that your preferred delivery workflow satisfies delivery regulations.

    hybrid delivery operation

    Additional resources to get started

    Running a cannabis delivery service in California isn’t an easy workflow to follow. But you need to adapt to survive in the state. If you want to stay competitive, adding delivery is worth considering.

    5 Tips for Starting a Cannabis Delivery Service

    Here’s your short-list of to-do’s:

    1. Research state regulations around cannabis delivery in CCR § 15414 - 15421.

    2. Choose an ecommerce vendor if you don’t have one already, such as Weedmaps, Jane or Dutchie.

    3. Integrate your ecommerce vendor with your POS.

    4. Hire necessary employees, such as delivery drivers.

    5. Purchase compliant vehicles and/or hardware for your drivers.

    6. Define your workflows/processes (they may need to be refined over time!) and get them approved by your state or local regulatory body.

    7. Promote and launch your delivery offering.

    Good luck and happy delivering!

    If you're interested in seeing how Flowhub solves for both the pizza and ice cream cannabis delivery models, book a demo today.

    Tony headshot

    Tony Aldridge

    Customer Advocate at Flowhub

    Tony is a cannabis industry expert, working closely on efforts related to products like delivery, partner APIs, and general POS. Tony plays a crucial role in dispensary success by providing education and strategic help and bridges the gap between Flowhub users and product development.