Five Recruiting Challenges For the Cannabis Industry

Jade Hynes
April 20, 2023

Recruiting and hiring for the cannabis industry poses a unique set of challenges making it difficult for companies to attract and retain top talent. I spoke with an industry leader to learn more about the five most difficult recruiting challenges facing cannabis. As the cannabis market continues to grow and evolve, these challenges are becoming increasingly complex, ranging from social stigma to a lack of industry transparency. In this article, we explore the most significant recruiting challenges for the cannabis industry. We also provide strategies HR can use to successfully overcome these challenges and build a powerful, diverse workforce.

1. Lack of Relevant Cannabis Experience

“The cannabis industry is a mixed batch of number crunching, organization, customer service, receiving, delivery and so on.”

What makes the cannabis industry distinctive is the need for all of these business functions to happen simultaneously, at all times. The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the world, and as it continues to expand, the need for qualified professionals is increasing. However, one of the significant recruiting challenges is the lack of relevant cannabis experience among job candidates. Since the industry is still in its infancy stages, there are only a few people who have had a chance to work in cannabis long-term, making it challenging for recruiters to find qualified candidates. Knowing this you should consider that candidates coming from any field can be relevant, if they’re strong at something, cannabis can make it work.

To address this challenge, consider investing in training programs for new hires, developing mentorship opportunities for existing staff, and partnering with educational institutions to create cannabis-specific programs. These initiatives help bridge the gap between the lack of cannabis experience among job candidates and the increasing demand for qualified professionals in the industry.

2. Every Cannabis Company is Different

Much like any other type of business one of the significant recruiting challenges in the cannabis field is every company is different. Each company has its unique set of values, culture, and working environment, making it difficult to find the right candidate who fits the company’s specific needs. In addition, the cannabis industry is rapidly evolving, and companies are constantly adapting to new regulations, market trends, and consumer preferences, further complicating the recruitment process.  At the end of the day what really matters is the cannabis customer. How quickly can they get in and out? How well can your staff educate them? How visible are you within the community?  The right hire will be able to adjust and adapt to meet the needs of the customer in a customer-focused industry.

Having a clear understanding of your company’s culture, mission, and vision will help you find the right candidate for the job. Work closely with company leaders and hiring managers to articulate the company’s specific needs and create a recruitment strategy that aligns with the company’s values and culture. In addition, use social media and other digital platforms to attract candidates who share the company’s values and will thrive in a new, ever-evolving industry. Ultimately, it’s crucial for anyone hiring in the cannabis industry to be flexible, adaptable, and willing to customize their talent acquisition strategies to meet the unique needs of each company and the population of workers interested in working for a cannabis company.

3. The Cannabis Market is Constantly Shifting

“It’s constantly shifting because it’s not federal yet and each state has such specific rules and regulations…Until it’s legalized federally, it will always be shifted.” 

With rapidly changing regulations, new product developments, and an ever-evolving consumer base. Be aware of these changes to attract and retain top talent. Furthermore, with new players entering the market and existing ones expanding their operations, the competition for skilled professionals is intense! This fast-paced and constantly shifting market means you should stay up-to-date on market trends, be aware of regulatory changes, and understand how these changes impact the industry and its workforce. For example, changes in regulations and laws related to cannabis use may impact the job market by increasing or decreasing demand for certain types of positions. 

To address this challenge, be proactive in your approach to recruitment. Constantly seek new talent pools and skill sets, and explore innovative recruitment techniques. Be willing to invest in ongoing training and development programs for existing staff to ensure they remain up-to-date with changes in the industry.

4. Social Stigma Still Exists Around the Cannabis Industry

“Funny enough, in my interview, they asked if I had any reservations about entering into this industry. I really hadn’t thought about it that way. I can’t control what other people think.”

“However, I hope that one day it will be accepted to a point where the folks that headed the growth originally are acknowledged for being the, as I said earlier, scrappy and creative minds that made an easier pathway for those to come. This industry isn’t going anywhere but up, and we’re the folks that are clearing the pathway for that to happen.”

Despite the growing acceptance of cannabis, social stigma still exists around the industry, creating a significant challenge for anyone recruiting. Many people still associate cannabis with negative stereotypes, like criminality and addiction. This stigma can make it difficult for you to attract top talent, particularly job seekers who may be hesitant to associate themselves with the industry. Furthermore, the lack of federal legalization of cannabis in many countries can further amplify the social stigma. Some job candidates may be concerned about the potential legal implications of working in the cannabis industry, particularly if they have a family or a public-facing role. The industry’s unique regulatory environment, which can vary from state to state, further complicates the recruitment process. 

In order to address the challenge of stigma, work to educate the public about the cannabis industry and its potential benefits. Emphasize the industry’s contribution to the economy or the medical benefits of cannabis. Work closely with your clients to develop a positive company culture promoting transparency, accountability, and responsible use. Additionally, partner with industry associations and other organizations to promote awareness and understanding of cannabis. Ultimately, by combating social stigma, you attract a more diverse pool of candidates and promote a positive image of the cannabis industry.

5. Lack of Industry Transparency

The lack of industry transparency is a significant challenge for recruiters in the cannabis industry. Many cannabis companies operate in a highly regulated and complex environment, making it difficult to obtain accurate information. This lack of transparency makes it challenging for recruiters to understand the specific job requirements, evaluate the quality of potential employees, and determine the industry’s overall growth potential. Furthermore, the lack of transparency impacts the candidate’s perception of the industry, causing a gap in the recruitment process. Job candidates may be hesitant to apply for positions in companies that are not transparent about their operations, finances, and overall business practices. This can result in a limited pool of potential candidates, making it challenging for you to find the right fit for the company. 

For this issue promote transparency in your operations. Provide information about your business practices, financials, and overall strategy to attract top talent. In addition, work with industry associations and regulatory bodies to obtain accurate information about the industry and its potential growth. Ultimately, by promoting transparency in the industry, you attract a more diverse pool of candidates and enhance the industry’s overall image.

Work with an HR Recruiter for Your Cannabis Recruiting Needs

In the cannabis industry, compliance with regulations is critical, and working with a skilled team of HR consultants ensures that the company meets these requirements. Consultants also have extensive networks and can access a larger pool of candidates than companies can on their own. This helps attract top talent from diverse backgrounds, which can be particularly valuable in the cannabis industry, where unique skills and experience are often required. If you’re interested in addressing any of the challenges posed in this blog contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your business needs.

PHOTO CREDIT – Photo by Terrance Barksdale:

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