Recruiting Strategies for Cannabis Companies: Insights from Vangst

Vangst/Sep 21, 2023

hero-graphic-Recruiting Strategies for Cannabis Companies: Insights from Vangst

Cannabis Recruiting Insights: Elevate Your Strategy with Vangst

The cannabis industry has experienced significant growth and transformation in recent years. With increasing legalization and changing regulations, the need for skilled and diverse talent in the cannabis industry has never been greater. However, with all of the changes the industry has been facing – The highest of highs and the lowest of lows – companies are finding it more difficult to not only attract but also retain top talent.

Vangst has been a trusted resource for business leaders, hiring managers, and entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry since 2016, matching the most qualified candidates with roles of all kinds, making us experts in hiring and recruiting. Along with our expertise we have compiled resources and data that help us take a precise approach to finding the right match for both the company and the candidate.

Every year we publish the Vangst Cannabis Industry Salary Guide Report, which surveys thousands of cannabis industry professionals and employees to gain insights into hiring, employment, and salary trends within the industry. Using information from our 2022 Salary Guide Report, here is a current landscape of the cannabis industry and recruiting strategies you should consider as a result:

Is Cannabis "Recession-Proof"?

The cannabis industry was once considered "recession-proof," but recent trends suggest otherwise. While it received a boost during the COVID-19 pandemic as an essential business, some challenges have emerged in 2022. Sales in established markets have plateaued, leading to staff cuts in major cannabis companies. This shift may be due to various factors, including bottomed-out wholesale prices and rapid industry expansion.

Recruiting Strategy: Adaptability is key. As the industry matures, focus on hiring talent with a diverse skill set capable of navigating changing market dynamics.

Social Equity

The cannabis industry continues to struggle with diversity and inclusion. People of color, who were disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs, remain underrepresented in the regulated cannabis sector. In 2022, less than 30% of the industry consisted of individuals identifying as Black or Brown.

Recruiting Strategy: Prioritize diversity and equity in your hiring practices. Actively promote employment opportunities for individuals from marginalized communities. Establish mentorship programs and allocate resources to support social equity initiatives.


Multistate operators (MSOs) are dominating the cannabis industry, acquiring independent shops and small local chains. Their deeper pockets and economies of scale create intense competition, raising concerns about the future of independent entrepreneurs.

Recruiting Strategy: Focus on innovation and niche markets. Seek out talented individuals who can help your business differentiate itself in a competitive landscape.

Wholesale Prices

Wholesale cannabis prices hit all-time lows in 2022 in established and newer legal states. Some businesses faced significant losses due to this price drop.

Recruiting Strategy: Cost-effective cultivation and efficient supply chain management will be crucial. Consider hiring experts who can streamline operations and optimize resource utilization.

The Road to Adult-Use

While the cannabis industry initially thrived in progressive states, it is gradually expanding into traditionally conservative regions. States like Arkansas, Missouri, Florida, and the Dakotas are seeing increased interest in cannabis legalization, which could lead to significant job creation and economic growth.

Recruiting Strategy: Stay informed about regional developments and strategically position your business in emerging markets to capitalize on growth opportunities.

Salary Insights

Understanding salary trends is essential for attracting and retaining top talent in the cannabis industry. Here are some key salary insights from the 2022 Salary Guide:

  • Plant-touching positions generally saw positive year-over-year growth in salaries.
  • Roles like Brand Managers and Edible Specialists experienced significant salary increases.
  • Ancillary roles, such as Directors of Cultivation and VPs of Operations, saw declines in salaries.
  • Certain cannabis roles pay higher than their mainstream counterparts, such as Budtenders and HR Generalists.
  • Conversely, roles like VPs of Manufacturing, VPs of Marketing, and Controllers reported lower salaries than mainstream positions.

Recruiting Strategy: Competitive compensation packages are essential for attracting and retaining talent. Benchmark your salaries against industry standards to remain competitive.

Employee Benefits

Employee benefits play a crucial role in talent acquisition and retention. While most cannabis companies offered health care benefits in the past, the number has decreased slightly. However, remote or flexible work options have become more prevalent.

Recruiting Strategy: Tailor benefits packages to meet the evolving needs and preferences of your workforce. Consider offering remote work options to attract a broader talent pool.

Diversity and Inclusion

The cannabis industry has made progress in increasing diversity, but there is still work to be done. While the percentage of minority workers has grown, white individuals continue to dominate the industry. Women also saw a slight increase in representation.

Recruiting Strategy: Actively promote diversity and inclusion within your organization. Implement diversity hiring initiatives and create an inclusive work environment.

Predictions for 2023

The Good

  • Bipartisan support for cannabis legalization is growing at the federal level.
  • New, traditionally conservative regions are embracing cannabis, leading to a more normalized industry.
  • Professional development and education opportunities will be a focus for job-seekers.

The Not-So-Good

  • Economic challenges may persist, impacting the industry's growth.
  • Venture capitalists may reduce funding for cannabis businesses.
  • The SAFE Banking Act remains elusive, limiting access to banking services.

The Hopeful

  • Federal cannabis policies may evolve positively.
  • Social equity programs are gaining traction, addressing past injustices.
  • Regional markets have the potential to redefine the industry's future.

Recruiting Strategy: Stay adaptable, keep an eye on policy developments, and invest in ongoing education and professional development for your team.

In conclusion, the cannabis industry is undergoing significant changes, and recruiting strategies must evolve accordingly. By prioritizing diversity, staying informed about industry trends, and offering competitive compensation and benefits, cannabis companies can attract and retain top talent in this dynamic and evolving field.

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