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Cannabis Staffing in Numbers

Legal cannabis now supports 321,000 full-time American jobs. And with recent legalization for adults in states like New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, we know what’s coming next.


Huge Growth. Innovation. Expansion. Start-Ups and New Openings.


All these trends have one common denominator: Staff. Cannabis businesses need to swiftly adapt their current workforce and scale up current human capital levels.


Just look at the explosive growth of cannabis jobs over the past few years. In 2019 there were 34,000 legal cannabis workers added in the United States, according to Leafly. In 2020 that number increased to 77,000, a 32 percent year-over-year growth.



So it’s clear: The cannabis industry is poised for monumental growth, global acceptance and expansion, and these changes are imminent. This relatively new budding economy’s success will heavily depend on the ability to attract the right mix of diverse talent to move things forward.


Where will all these new employees come from? With employers loosening their demand for “cannabis experience only” candidates, the industry will be able to look to other outlets for talent. For example, when it comes to dispensaries or consumptions lounges, other guest-facing, product-driven sectors — among them, the hospitality sector — will be the best bet and obvious choice for extracting talent.


It will also help to implement a comprehensive training and development program to set new, enthusiastic employees up for success. This will make the transition from their outgoing sector to their new environment seamless, will help drive retention, and will yield a healthy work environment and culture.


Some studies show that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs six to nine months' salary on average. To replace a manager making $60,000 a year, that means $30,000 to $45,000 in recruiting and training expenses.



Recruitment and training are only a couple of elements to consider. Proper screening of new employees flooding the market will be key. An efficient, secure and speedy candidate-screening protocol as part of the hiring process will be crucial in getting volume through the door and allowing for the ramp-up to come. Compliance is also key when it comes to background screening, especially in an industry where so many minorities have been unfairly affected by universal drug laws. A third-party screening vendor will help insure a legal and compliant screening program that protects both the employer and the job candidate.


Professionals in this sector and vertical will need to apply a “field to boardroom” approach to accommodate these needs. Cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, branding, distribution, retail and corporate departments are just a few divisions that will need an overhaul as the GREEN WAVE hits one state after another.


If established companies, start-ups and service providers to this giant new economy proactively plan, craft a staffing strategy, and embrace those key ramp-up elements, they will surely be set up for success. As the cannabis industry becomes more legitimized and continues to provide a safe, long career path for professionals of all levels, those metrics will become the best selling points and recruitment tools to attract new talent.



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