Let me begin by stating that I am likely biased, having myself come from outside the cannabis space before opportunistically jumping at an opportunity to enter the industry eight months ago.

And, let me further preface by stating the obvious –  a cannabis company cannot be successful without the domain expertise, network, and understanding of the consumer that comes with being an industry veteran.  But the key to longstanding success in the industry is developing a team fit to take on the fastest growing and most dynamic industry we may see in our lifetime.

To create the most capable team, companies must attempt to lure experts from outside the space to bring their knowledge to a team that already has the necessary domain expertise.


Team building 101 requires a company to know the roles and skills needed to operate the company and value each roll as it pertains to the group as a whole.  Some of these rolls by their very nature are best suited for a cannabis industry expert; but others, even some that at first glance seem best suited for a cannabis expert may be performed at a very high level by someone with a similar expertise outside the space that can bring best practices and outside innovation to the cannabis industry.  Other expertise like sales, and the ever important CFO position, can span industry specific knowledge once that person learns industry basics.  

However, all outsiders are not created equal.  It takes a certain mindset and personality to fit well in this space.  There remain stigmas and intense regulations with which a person must learn to cope.  Further, the cannabis industry, while slowly becoming more corporate, is a far cry from the typical corporate job.  Therefore, it’s not just about luring top talent, but the right talent.

Landing top outside talent, however, is and will continue to be, increasingly prevalent in the space.  Any boom will lure money hungry executives, but calling this simply a boom would be a disservice.  This is a revolution, an end to a prohibition and a cause that many are extremely passionate about.  That goes a long way in the hiring process.  It will be more and more common to see people pass on jobs at places like Amazon, Microsoft, GE and like companies to enter the cannabis space because they find passion, opportunity and room to excel in an industry that most would not have even considered working in five years ago.  Cannabis companies should take advantage of this shifting HR trend and welcome these talented, and more importantly, diverse (in thought process and background) employment candidates.

I will boldly predict that when the dust settles on this green rush, we will find the most successful companies in the space have a perfect balance of long-tenured cannabis entrepreneurs and top-level outside corporate converts.  It will be exciting to see how the ideals of the converts blend with the cannabis culture to shape the industry’s future.