Four Common Misconceptions of Working in the Cannabis Industry

Alex Pick
May 25, 2021

The cannabis industry lacks hard-working, focused professionals

  • This is untrue through and through, as some of the hardest working people we’ve met have been found within our work in this industry. Given that this industry is still relatively new, those working within it are often still referred to as ‘industry pioneers’. With that comes the constant need to be able to adapt, pivot, re-structure, and figure out creative and innovative ways to solve problems without a storied history to fall back on. Working in the cannabis industry requires being resourceful, focused, open-minded, determined, and unafraid of failure - all qualities that professionals in other industries would likely say they, too, embody. It’s also worth noting that many of the newcomers to this industry have worked for years in other parallel or unparalleled industries where they’ve certainly learned transferable skills that are now being practically applied to the cannabis industry. While there isn’t a one size fits all approach to most things, and certainly not to cannabis, committed, hard work rarely goes unnoticed and the people putting in the work to pursue their passion and advance this industry in positive ways are undoubtedly hard-working professionals whose efforts shouldn’t go unmentioned.

It’s still an unregulated ‘wild west’ type of industry

  • This, too, is far from the truth. In actuality, the cannabis industry is one of the most heavily regulated industries out there, as there are many, many sets of eyes via various agencies and regulatory bodies with active industry oversight. Given the heightened scrutiny of this industry, it is nearly impossible to avoid an audit of some kind throughout the calendar year, and oftentimes operators are faced with multiple audits by varying authorities at any given time, such as fire and police departments, safety, and OSHA inspections, local and state departments of food and agriculture, local excise and license offices, and many others. Furthermore, many states require that the entire process of growing, producing, and selling cannabis products, oftentimes termed ‘seed to sale’, is formally tracked within a statewide track and trace platform such as METRC or MJFreeway. This allows for little, if any, room for lack of transparency and accountability within industry operations and is absolutely an example of the tight regulations found amidst this industry that isn’t matched in many others.

Banking is impossible within the cannabis industry

  • While access to credible banking can be tricky to navigate within the industry, cannabis banking has come a long way and is now more accessible than ever for compliant operators. However, many banking institutions have enforced their own intensive and ongoing audit processes to ensure operators remain compliant with all regulatory frameworks. Most also require operators to have meticulous internal accounting practices and a thorough external reporting process, along with detailed SOPs and extra resources to pay the extra fees often associated with banks willing to work with cannabis companies. As of a little over a year ago, in March 2020, “of approximately 12,000 banks across the country, 710 banks and 150 credit unions reported serving marijuana businesses” according to FinCEN.

All available jobs within the industry require hands-on work with the cannabis plant

  • While there are many sectors of the industry that are plant-touching, there are just as many that aren’t. Many people likely think of cultivation, extraction, processing, manufacturing, testing, and retail/dispensary workers when thinking about what working within the industry may look like, and that’s understandable. However, there are also many other sectors whom without, the industry would not be able to function. Some of these ancillary businesses include legal, finance and admin, accounting, licensing, technical equipment and machinery, packaging and labeling suppliers, distribution, marketing, advertising, PR, education, media and events, staffing, point of sale and tracking systems, security, real estate, engineering, payment processors and insurance to name just a few.

Despite the fact that there are many other misconceptions out there surrounding what working within the cannabis industry looks like, these are a few that have come up time and time again and we felt were worth addressing. While we hope to see significant advancements in the near future regarding a few of these, namely safe banking and the continuing emergence of helpful ancillary businesses to support this rapidly growing industry, we’re very much aware of the work that still needs to be done in this space and commend anyone who has dedicated their time, efforts, and energy in any way to advance this industry.