Cannabis Watch: Cannabis company executives saw double-digit salary gains in first quarter amid shortage of experienced workers


Experienced managers and C-suite executives in the cannabis business enjoyed double-digit salary increases in 2021 compared with 2020, according to a new report.

CannabizTeam, a cannabis-focused executive search and staffing company, said its latest Cannabis Industry Salary Guide found salary increases were driven by a shortage of specialized workers with experience in the burgeoning sector.

The U.S. cannabis industry currently supports 321,000 full-time cannabis jobs, according to data from Leafly, up 32% from 2020. That number is expected to grow to 500,000 jobs and more than $35 billion in annual sales by 2024, as more states legalize cannabis for adult recreational use.

There are currently 36 states that have legalized cannabis for medical purposes, while 17 states allow recreational adult use, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Source: CannabizTeam

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“The cannabis industry proved its strength and resiliency in 2020 and enters 2021 as the fastest-growing industry in the United States,” said Liesl Bernard, chief executive of CannabizTeam. “With so much hiring, growth and investment activity, we’re seeing a red hot cannabis job market at the start of Q2 2021.”

The report found that a cannabis company’s chief executive officer’s salary rose to a median of $350,300 in 2021, up 11% from a median of $314,450 in 2020. For a chief financial officer, the median salary climbed 10% to $348,500 from $318,000 in 2020.

A chief operating officer salary rose 10% to a median of $257,100 from $232,700. A director of compliance salary rose 11% to $153,950 from $138,500.

The median salary for a budtender rose 6% to $39,250 from $37,200, while the median salary for a trimmer rose 5% to $34,000 from $32,250.

The report also found that the biggest multi-state operators are increasingly bringing in talent from other sectors and from some of the biggest U.S. companies, including names like Pfizer Inc.
Deere & Co.
Procter & Gamble

and Tesla Inc.

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“Competitive demand for top cannabis 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 intrastate supply chains to serve ever-increasing retail stores,” said the report.

See now: Trulieve buys Harvest Health in $2.1 billion cannabis deal that gives it access to Arizona adult-use market

California has the most cannabis jobs among states at 58,000, followed by Colorado at 35,000. Florida has 31,000 cannabis jobs, while Arizona has 21,000. Pennsylvania has the smallest number of jobs at 16,000.

The salary ranges are based on proprietary salary data, salary surveys, and independent research gathered through the end of the first quarter, said CannabizTeam.

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