The cannabis industry’s exponential growth in recent years is impossible to ignore. Currently legal in 11 states, the global legal marijuana market size is expected to reach $66.3 billion by the end of 2025, according to Grand View Research. Unlike other booming CPG sectors, cannabis is new and uncharted territory, creating an aura of excitement along with numerous questions.

ForceBrands hosted a roundtable conference in Boulder, Colo., on June 5 to discuss and examine cannabis team building strategies and best practices. Moderated by ForceBrands’ Vice President of Client Strategy Ben Ramsey and Senior Client Strategist Diana Mercer, leaders at various cannabis companies came together to discuss common challenges faced in the industry as well as how to combat them effectively. Discussion attendees included Natasha Lannerd, Director of Business Development, and 1906; Jocelyn Zorn, Human Resources Manager at Balanced Health BotanicalsTamarah Saif, VP of Human Resources at Charlotte’s Web; and John Simmons and Matt Oscamou, Co-Founders of Weller.

HR Cannabis Roundtable

Read on for some key takeaways from the Roundtable discussion about how to attract and retain the best possible team in this newly budding industry.

1. Offer competitive salaries and creative benefits
In order to attract talent, it is crucial for employers to offer a strong salary package and creative benefits. When compared to other CPG sectors, cannabis boasts the highest average annual raise at 14 percent, according to ForceBrands’ 2019 Cannabis Talent Market Report. But generous raises can only go so far in enticing top talent. When it comes to benefits, today’s workforce — especially younger generations — prefers flexibility and customization. Nontraditional benefits like options to work remotely, free office meals, and more are replacing traditional offerings, allowing employees to customize benefits toward their lifestyles. Cannabis employers should look to their benefits and compensation packages to remain competitive in today’s candidate-driven market.

2. Understand the legal framework
While knowledge of the industry is critical no matter where you work, this is especially important in cannabis. When hiring new talent, it is up to the company to ensure that their employees understand that they will be faced with a unique set of challenges given the highly regulated nature of the industry. Ever-changing laws and legislation mean employers would be wise to take a more proactive approach to their growth strategy, as opposed to reactive. Regularly communicating the latest industry news, regulations, and legislation with your entire team will also help create a more cohesive company culture.

3. Look for the right kind of talent
Finding top talent is a challenge that is not unique to the cannabis industry. Still, the type of employee that will thrive in this new industry is. When recruiting, look for people who can keep up with changing laws and regulations, as well as be productive in a fast-paced, often hectic environment. If you’re married to structure, this is probably not the industry for you. Hosting job fairs, as well as posting job listings, is an easy way to find people with relevant experience. In general, people are excited about the industry, even if they don’t completely understand it. That is why talking to potential employees and seeing if they would be a good fit for not only the company but for the industry, goes a long way in terms of attracting the right type of employees.

4. Build a transparent culture
In an industry where there’s often more grey area than clarity, transparency goes a long way. Keeping your employees aware of the issues that the company may run into — and how to overcome them — creates an open and honest company culture. Be up front with new hires about the industry’s unique complications. For example, inform them that they may have to put their money in a state bank instead of a national bank, and may have to a relocation to a state where marijuana is legalized. This is not without support, though. Understanding the industry’s complex regulations, it is not uncommon for cannabis employers to offer relocation packages. In short, cannabis is an industry that comes with a lot of risks — transparency is key.

5. Support legalization
The more states that legalize marijuana, means the safer businesses within the industry will be. Pushing toward a federal solution, which is currently on the floor of the Senate, will be groundbreaking in terms of allowing the industry to flourish and reach its maximum potential. The Cannabis Trade Federation, a coalition of all cannabis-related business, is at the forefront of pushing legalization and advocating for the industry’s needs. Voting legislators into office who support legalization as well as staying educated are valuable steps toward national legalization.

Interested in exploring career opportunities in cannabis or building your cannabis team? Explore our HerbForce division.