By Bart Schaneman
It’s taken a while for the needle to move on cannabis legalization. Individual U.S. states and the Canadian government were among the first to push it forward, creating tens of thousands of jobs along the way.
Now the rest of the world is catching up, according to Alison McMahon, CEO of Cannabis at Work, a marijuana industry employment agency based in Edmonton, Alberta. McMahon spoke with Marijuana Business Magazine about the new jobs that will be created as cannabis goes global, providing insights on eight positions ripe for opportunity in an international market. They range from consultants to recruiters.
Consultants are everywhere in the cannabis industry, and they can help companies secure a business license, be it for production, processing or retail. Consultants with international regulatory experience, in particular, will be in demand.
There’s also a potential need for business and management consultants, often hired to create business plans and related schemes from scratch. In addition, consultants with a basic understanding of how different cultures can influence business and markets will have a leg up. “That’s essentially what the cannabis sector is. We’re all just creating this as we go,” McMahon said.
“Marketing and sales jobs are becoming more prevalent as the international market matures,” McMahon noted. A marketer who understands the different international regulations and restrictions will be poised for success. In addition, a marketer who understands consumer behavior and preferences in different countries will be effective. Knowledge of local demographics will be key, too. For example: Does the country have an aging population? What does that age group want?
Attorneys have several roles to play in international markets, McMahon said. They’re needed from the business and corporate sides of legal conversations, for example, as well as when companies raise money and go public. And that’s just for starters.
You can’t do business in a country if you don’t speak the language. That means you’ll need someone on board who can help communicate with business partners and regulators in foreign-speaking countries. To cut costs, for example, many companies are interested in countries with climates where cannabis can be grown outdoors year-round, such as those in Latin America. If you’re coming from the English-speaking world, you’ll want help communicating with local businesspeople and decisionmakers.
Data companies can provide numerous spreadsheets containing valuable information to help cannabis companies understand consumer and retail sales patterns. The information also can be used to develop branding, marketing and messaging. McMahon has seen data companies analyze consumer buying patterns and use that information to inform key business decisions. Data crunchers from established cannabis markets will be well positioned to expand into emerging markets and provide business intelligence to companies angling to operate in those countries.
As regulations take effect in emerging markets, more and more government jobs will be available at local, state and federal levels. By necessity, these governments will have to add experienced staff to implement and manage the laws and regulations.
Regulators in emerging markets will probably require specific levels of security to prevent the diversion of cannabis into the black market – both on the production and retail sides. License applicants also will probably have to show regulators they would employ adequate security measures. Those aspiring business owners will need the help of security specialists to meet those requirements.
Security specialists also help companies remain compliant – this could include physical security measures as well as surveillance through cameras and other means. Security companies that operate in mainstream industries may be among those seeking to capitalize on the growth in overseas cannabis markets – in addition to established MJ security providers.
Recruitment and Staffing
McMahon said she expects to see the global migration of talent, allowing recruitment and staffing professionals to move from emerging cannabis markets to new markets. As more countries develop their cannabis industries, McMahon said, that will pose “a gigantic growth curve in a short period of time. … That makes it difficult for companies to grow quickly and also staff up alongside of it.”