Leadership position cannabis companies demand more than leadership in traditional companies. Here are some qualities cannabis companies look for when choosing their leaders. From hoodies to suits and brown bags to briefcases, the search is on for the next face of the marijuana industry…

The legalization of marijuana businesses effectively saw your local dealer trading up from an oversized hoodie to three-piece suits.  With the coming wars to be waged in boardrooms and hearings, let’s see what qualities the industry needs in its leaders and spokespersons.

Marijuana Companies’ Leaders Must be Honest

Good ol’ honesty. Serious questions into marijuana leadership have been brought this year in the wake of the CannTrust Holdings issue. CannTrust has admitted to growing unlicensed cannabis from October 2018 to March 2019 under the stewardship and sanction of its then CEO Peter Aceto.  While Aceto was ousted in July 2019, the long-lasting effects of this continue to be felt as this has set an image precedent for other cannabis businesses. CannTrust is also slated to destroy $77 million dollars worth of weed in order to regain regulatory approval – this amid supply deficiencies that continue to haunt the cannabis industry.  Marijuana business leaders moving forward need to be of outstanding moral fiber if the business wants to recover from this.

Leaders in Marijuana Companies Must be Passionate

The road to widespread marijuana legalization is a long and uphill battle. It’s only natural that our commanders need to be passionate.

American Marijuana Founder Steven Wynn Kubby has had this passion ever since. After experiencing palpitations and being diagnosed with a rare form of adrenal cancer at age 23, he sought to manage the debilitative effects of chemotherapy and the spread of cancer via the use of marijuana. For the next 25 years, Kubby has been in and out of jail, fled from one end of the country to the other and has had his home raided for marijuana-related reasons.  He is still very much alive and kicking, despite the spread of cancer, a fact his physicians are baffled with and something he attributes to both smoking marijuana and a healthy diet. 

His medical experience was instrumental in passing California Proposition 215 – legalizing medical marijuana and he has had all charges against him dismissed in 2008.

Marijuana Companies Require Transformative Leadership

The next-gen marijuana business leader needs to not only understand his/her market but should also realize that the current image is not doing it any favors. He/She should be working towards revitalizing the image and taking it into more acceptable directions. 

President of Cannabis Life Sciences Andrew Glashow has this to say:

“The trends are pointing away from flower, although still a very big component of the marketing, the fastest growing segments of the market are oils and edibles, which will continue to grow very quickly. If you take a look at the marketplace, you see less “stoner-type branded products.” The cannabis industry is headed into a branded, functional product direction with edibles and oils.”

Cannabis Companies Look for Innovative Leaders

Marijuana business leaders also need to recognize the fact that the long years of its illegality have significantly hampered the creative usage of marijuana. He/She must be willing to innovate and be open to the introduction of novel ideas. EIC Jennifer Romolini at cannabisMD has indicated that:

“We’ve still only scratched the surface of what cannabis will mean to the beauty and skincare industries – it seems like hundreds of new products appear each month (we’ve just published stories on CBD bath bombs, and a new cannabis mascara). We’re also seeing more and more interplay with cannabis and food – from intricately-made gourmet edibles to high-end cannabis restaurants.”

Leaders in Marijuana Companies Must be Business-savvy

Marijuana business leaders also need to be business-savvy. That is, familiar with how the more traditional businesses work. An immediate and comprehensive understanding of laws, while not required, is a definite plus given that at the end of the day running a legitimate business means exactly that: running a legitimate business.

Mark Siebert, President & CEO of iFranchise Group has said:

“Yahoo finance recently predicted that cannabis might be retailing’s biggest trend in 2019… however, as legal landscapes continue to evolve, new business regulations, laws, and policies are surfacing that require detailed understanding and navigation. These challenges include differentiating product offering between cannabis and CBD, which are subject to very different regulations; issues with applying for product trademark; and how to legally bank your money through the FDIC-insured banking system.”

Marijuana Company Leader, Don’t be Evil

Perhaps the only really big takeaway here is the understanding that the marijuana industry is young.  Today’s marijuana business leaders need to understand that they are setting precedents for public perception. Google famously operated with “Don’t be evil” as its unofficial motto (which they recently just dropped) to great success and that’s the kind of goodwill the marijuana business needs right now. 

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