Want to work in cannabis? Read this first.

Photo by Drew Taylor on Unsplash

Let’s frame the opportunity:

The world has just watched history unfold as Parliament ended Canada’s 95-year prohibition. As we sprint towards the official legalization date, October 17, 2018, businesses will continue to scale up and operationalize their teams.

All eyes are on Canada, and if done well, we will be setting an example for future nations who are looking to legalize. With this, comes a surge of innovation that’s akin to the light-speed, “roll up your sleeves” entrepreneurial spirit of our booming technology sector.

It’s a big juicy market and new kind of consumer:

  • Canada’s total cannabis market is significant, potentially reaching nearly $7.2 billion by 2019 — with legal sales making up more than half of that.
  • A new kind of consumer will be buying a good portion of that legal product: think middle-aged, university-educated Canadians juggling many responsibilities and looking for the occasional toke.

Source: Deloitte, 2018 Cannabis report

What this means for you:

The great news: There could not be a more perfect time to dive in. The legal cannabis market is very quickly becoming the fastest-growing industry in the largest economy in the world.

The bad news: Competition for prime positions is becoming fierce, as people from other industries are flocking to cannabis.

What to do about it: Get specific. Investigate what you’re most interested in, where you can make the biggest impact, and add value. A few core areas of the ecosystem to start with are: growing (LPs), retail (stores, hardware), infused products (edibles, etc.) and ancillary services (software/tech, other service providers, etc.).

Ask yourself why:

I truly believe that in order to be successful, you should have a reason to be involved beyond a paycheque (the same could be said for any job). Whether it’s a fascination of the cultivation process, science behind the endocannabinoid system, or you’ve had a personal experience that has connected you to cannabis in some small or big way.

Be honest about ‘the why’ — you can’t fake passion.

Diversity & Inclusion FTW:

Being on the forefront of a new industry means an opportunity for change. Because cannabis is evolving so rapidly, we are drawing a wide range of talent, and it is critical that there are more representations of minorities across the entire industry. It’s not new news that diverse companies are better able to win top talent, improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and all of that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.

While you’re researching, dig deep into organizational culture and get real about value alignment. In the end, you’re going to be much happier working alongside those who have a similar POV and work ethic.

Given the rapid pace of how we are operating in the space, it’s imperative to find the right fit — remember, work is the family you choose.

Vision is mission critical:

Finding that North Star as a collective of people who are aligned on an organizational mission (and in it for the long haul) is such a key part of the puzzle. Look for those fearless leaders, the ones who are charting a compliant course and building a business model, team, and culture that will withstand the first pass of this “green rush”. Evaluate each company through the dual lenses of: Purpose and Leader + Purpose Fit.

The right company for you is a company whose purpose inspires and motivates you — makes you feel as though you are part of something bigger than yourself.

A few simple steps to get started:

Create the short list
Searching for a job is a huge endeavor. To make the best use of your time, create a ‘Top 10’ list of cannabis companies to focus your efforts on — places you’d love to work, and that appeal to you both as a consumer and professional.

Then the long list
Once complete, draft a second list of each of their competitors. This output should provide you with around ~20-30 companies and a better understanding of the overall landscape.

Key considerations
Map out your ideal wants and needs, things such as:

Size of company: Do you thrive in a large organization or prefer to work in a start up environment or small team?

Geographic location: What’s your preference? Do you want to stay close to home or are you open to moving across the country or to a rural area?

All other areas you care about: benefits, flexible work, snacks, office environment, team based activities, dogs in the office, whatever else floats your boat.

Tap into your network
Like every other industry, the best way to connect with a hiring team is through a referral or introduction. In this case, apply for the job in tandem with outreach (HR continues to play a vital role) and create a winning narrative that highlights your strengths and interest. Invest the time into going to events, meet-ups and prepare for endless coffee meetings.

Learn, digest, and then learn more
Using educational resources such as Leafly, Business of Cannabis, MJ Biz Daily, High Times as a starting point.

Hope this helped you devise an approach. Stay tuned for my next few posts — we’re going to start exploring regulation, trends, and what to do once you get started in the role.


At Leafly, we’re leading the creation of a brand new industry around a product that has been illegal and stigmatized for the past 100+ years. While we’ve made some great strides since our founding in 2011, we’re looking for the next group of talented individuals who are going to make this happen.

Leafly believes that cannabis is good for the health and happiness of the world. We help consumers find cannabis products in their local community, and by doing so, help retail stores and product companies advertise their products to a uniquely captive and educated audience.

We are building the technology products that will drive the cannabis business into the future. To do that, we’re going to continue to reimagine the role cannabis can play in people’s lives around the globe. We love working with people who are passionate, creative, execution-focused and driven to do great things every day.




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Jo Vos

Jo Vos

Fractional CMO. Always building, always learning.