May 18, 2021 – Cannabis sector salaries are up across the board with increased demand for top flight leaders driving double-digit increases in compensation for experienced managers and C-suite executives, according to a new report by CannabizTeam, a cannabis-focused executive search firm. Salaries, the study said, continue to increase above cost of living index due to competition and a shortage of employees with specialized cannabis experience or specific transferable skills. The firm’s latest Cannabis Industry Salary Guide, for the second quarter of 2021, was created to help clients and prospective cannabis employees understand real-time changes in the dynamic cannabis industry and make informed business decisions.
“Cannabis salaries have increased significantly in recent years due to a growing demand that has outpaced supply,” said Liesl Bernard, founder and CEO of CannabizTeam. In 2020, the median cannabis executive salary grew by 10 percent, and this trend has continued through the first quarter of 2021, according to the firm.
“The cannabis industry proved its strength and resiliency in 2020 and enters 2021 as the fastest-growing industry in the United States,” said Ms. Bernard. “With so much hiring, growth and investment activity, we’re seeing a red hot cannabis job market at the start of Q2 2021. The future is bright, and we look forward to our continued role in connecting exceptional talent with the cannabis industry’s leading companies.”
According to data from Leafly, the U.S. cannabis industry currently supports 321,000 full-time cannabis jobs, a 32 percent increase from a record number of jobs in 2020. With adult-use cannabis now legalized in 17 states and counting, the industry is poised to support 500,000 full-time jobs and top $35 billion in annual sales in the U.S. by 2024.
The CannabizTeam report found that competitive demand for top talent continues to skyrocket in emerging adult-use markets including Arizona, Illinois, Michigan, New York and New Jersey, as hundreds of new licensees are building intra-state supply chains to serve ever-increasing retail stores. “While the progression of each newly legal cannabis market will look different, each market is tasked with building a new supply chain from seed to sale,” said Ms. Bernard. We can expect to see a massive expansion in the number of cannabis farms, manufacturing centers and retail stores as each market grows to meet supply and demand. As the supply chain is built and each market expands, so will the number of employees required to run each business.”
In addition, the CannabizTeam report found that larger multi-state operators are increasingly recruiting from outside of the cannabis industry, bringing in talent from some of the country’s largest companies, including Pfizer, John Deere, Proctor and Gamble, Bayer, Google and Tesla.
“There is more competition in the cannabis job market than there’s ever been before,” said Ms. Bernard. “With the popularity and acceptance of cannabis growing, talent from other industries are looking to transition to the cannabis industry and companies are looking toward non-cannabis industries as competitive demand increases. Many companies, especially larger multi-state operators, are hiring from outside industries with transferable skills – food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, consumer packaged goods, technology, etc.”
Growing Search Firm
CannabizTeam now boasts 10 offices in eight states across the U.S. Since its inception in 2016, the search firm has placed top candidates from entry level to specialized C-suite leadership at private and public cannabis companies in North America and Europe. Multi-state clients include TerrAscend, Justice Grown, Ascend Wellness Holdings, Jushi, LEEF Holdings, NewTropic and Benzinga.
CannabizTeam recently launched a new service line for cannabis companies: CT Board Placement. The new service assists cannabis industry clients in identifying and recruiting candidates for board of director positions who have a diverse blend of skills and experience. CT Board Placement will also offer a cannabis director development program to help first-time directors learn the culture and nuances of the company they will serve as well as the broader cannabis industry. The cannabis director development program includes a detailed curriculum exploring the most relevant governance issues in North America, with a special focus on issues facing boards in the U.S., Canadian and Mexican cannabis markets.
“Appointing the right non-executive directors is a critically important decision for all cannabis companies in today’s competitive marketplace,” said Ms. Bernard. “Recruiting directors in the cannabis space is a more complex process due to the relative youth of the industry and the lingering legacy legal nuances. Our goal with CT Board Placement is to help our clients find a diverse blend of candidates with relevant experience, strong character and reputation, proven judgment and leadership skills that will set them up for future success.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media