Aaron Riley

40 Under 40

For the past five years, the Marijuana Venture staff has compiled an annual list of some of the brightest young leaders and influencers in the cannabis industry. As in past years, we have narrowed the list from hundreds of worthy candidates to present 40 individuals from the vast and ever-changing business in the United States and Canada.

It is our honor to share their stories.

Aaron Riley
Age: 29
Company: CannaSafe
Title: CEO

Aaron Riley jokes that he “tried to get a distribution license in South Carolina back in 2011,” but his arrest in college was also a wakeup call that cost him his football scholarship and a few days in jail.

After expunging his record and going back to school, Riley earned his undergraduate degree and an MBA, then started a car detailing and sales business that netted more than $1 million per year in sales, but he wasn’t happy.

“I didn’t really want to be a car salesman my whole life,” he says.

In 2015, the opportunity arose to get into cannabis legitimately. He bought majority ownership in CannaSafe, a lab in Southern California that ran its entire operation in a 120-square-foot room. By 2018, the company had moved into a new facility in LA and did $2.6 million in revenue in the state’s first year of adult-use sales. Last year, CannaSafe generated nearly $20 million in revenue, capturing about 30% of the market in California.

Over the next year, Riley expects to open at least four new locations in multiple states, as well as a 25,000-square-foot headquarters in LA. He says the arc of his career has given him a unique perspective on the industry.

“I got literally beat up by the police and thrown in jail for this,” he says. “It’s kind of odd coming full circle.”


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