The job pot continues to grow in Canada’s cannabis industry in light of the recent move to legalize recreational marijuana.
Want to become British Columbia’s new director for BC Liquor Distribution Branch's cannabis distribution operations? It comes with an annual salary between C$86,000 - $112,000. Companies, such as WeedMD (CVE:WMD), have multiple positions posted — from oil extraction technician to distribution assistant.
Posted positions are coming fast and furious and as the industry explodes in Canada, there is the potential for a lack of supply – depending on the type of job.
On online job boards, such as simplyhired.com, a search for jobs in the industry that include the keyword “cannabis” brought up close to 700 positions across the country.
“Job creation in this sector is real. There are jobs we are recruiting for today that didn’t exist several months ago,” says Alison McMahon, who runs Cannabis At Work, a staffing agency focused on the burgeoning industry – the first of its kind in Canada.
Right now, she's recruiting for positions in everything from growing and production, to sales and marketing, even CFO and CEO positions, across the entire country.
Fast-paced hiring growth – similar to dot-com boom
The pace of growth and the volume of hiring that has to be done at one time is significant, according to McMahon, adding that it is somewhat akin to the dot-com boom.
Her company is one of the few vendors recruiting on behalf of Ontario cannabis stores, where 40 stores are set to open by the end of 2018.
“It’s an industry that didn’t exist a handful of years ago that is now in full swing.”
Some fundamentals are the same, according to McMahon. There are transferable skills in certain jobs, plan production for example, sales/marketing or people that have done quality assurance, etc.
That said, many characteristics are different.
“This is an incredibly fast-paced industry and there’s a lot of ambiguity. It really takes someone who can thrive in this type of environment,” says McMahon. “It’s also a highly regulated and highly structured environment and there is a lot of document control.”
One can see examples of this in job postings as well, with jobs such as "documentation control specialist" posted by Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) this week.
Salary gains? Maybe, maybe not
Many are wondering if entering a burgeoning, perhaps still slightly stigmatized, industry comes attached with a higher salary.
According to McMahon, one of the main reasons people are coming over from other industries is that the industry is still new and growing. Her company did a recent salary survey (2018) with 19 licenced producers with a cultivation and/or sales license, after previously doing a smaller study in 2017.
Cannabis at Work looked at base salary data, bonuses and equity, salary administration adjustments dates, proposed or anticipated salary increases and employee benefits.
What did they find? Overall, according to McMahon, they found that salaries are quite mainstream. For corporate service jobs, she says they actually noticed a salary decrease.
“My sense on that is if you were recruiting someone in 2016, there was more stigma, and a premium being paid. Now, it’s becoming more and more mainstream.”
There was, however, a bump in the cultivation and production type of roles, as much as 14%.
“That reflects a tight labour market,” says McMahon.
Legal cannabis could add thousands of jobs to Canadian economy
To date, there has not been an official forecast about how many jobs the industry will potentially create, but it’s expected in the thousands. Eventually, these jobs will be measured as part of Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey, and will be released later in the year.
Canada can look to the south for some hints, however.
A report released from cannabis consulting firm, New Frontier Data, estimated that by 2020, the legal cannabis market in the U.S. (worth close to $8mln) could create more than 250,000 jobs – more than the manufacturing sector, utilities or even government jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
New Frontier Data projected the domestic Canadian cannabis market will reach C$9.2bln by 2025, in a report released in April, prior to the recreational cannabis legalization vote.
“Combined, the Canadian medical and adult-use markets will rival that of California – which boasts the 6th largest overall economy internationally,” said New Frontier Data founder and chief executive officer, Giadha Aguirre de Carcer.
“Canadian usage rates in the medical market are higher on average than in the U.S. When the adult-use Canadian market opens the combined domestic and international opportunities will increase dramatically and create new momentum around the world."