Choosing Your Team Early to Prepare for Cannabis Licenses

Contributing writer: Katrina Grosek

When it comes to selecting your team for your cannabis license application, there are a number of things to consider as you start to sort through your network to find personnel that fulfill the experience requirements for the state’s application. 

Executive Talent in New Markets

In emerging states with markets that are brand new to the legal cannabis industry, there is often a limited number of candidates with legal cannabis industry experience to draw from who are also local residents. 

Last summer, for example, Missouri moved forward with their very first medical cannabis application round for Cultivation, Manufacturing, and Dispensary licenses. We found that some of the plant-touching positions including Director of Cultivation, Director of Extraction/Infusion and COO were difficult for clients to fill through their own search efforts, as these required demonstrated experience within a regulated cannabis business. Using our network, we were able to connect our clients with cannabis professionals to lend the expertise they needed to construct a sound business plan and operating procedures, which allowed them to submit a highly competitive application.

Some things to consider when choosing your team is how their background and experience will fit in to fill experience gaps in the application org chart. Positions such as Chief Revenue Officer, Accountant, Community Engagement Leader, Inventory Specialist, HR, and Security do not require cannabis-specific skillsets and are transferable from traditional industries into the cannabis industry. However, the more cannabis expertise you’re able to demonstrate on your team — even in these ancillary roles — the more competitive your application. So, it can be helpful to gain access to professionals outside your network in these situations, as well.

Regulated Cannabis Experience Matters

When it comes to choosing your Director of Cultivation and Director of Extraction, the candidates you select require a very specific background in order to add value to the org chart and make your application competitive. Additionally, COOs are hard to find because the ideal candidates for this role have outside experience in an executive level role, and inside cannabis industry experience overseeing cultivation and extraction facilities for a large-scale operation in one or multiple regulated states. We solve this need by connecting our clients with pre-screened and vetted candidates with cannabis industry experience in legal, regulated markets, who can pass a background check and do the due diligence required on their end before the application deadline. 

Start Early to Secure the Best Candidates

Many times, selecting and securing the team for your application’s org chart isn’t a clear priority when the application process begins, with items such as securing funding and locating suitable property taking precedence. Even though these aspects are critical to your application, selecting your team of cannabis professionals is going to be one of your most important decisions during the process.

The kicker is ensuring that you connect with top candidates who fulfill each state’s unique requirements before they are matched with another group. 

What’s at Stake

Most applications include large sections that ask for detailed narratives on each member of the org chart’s background and cannabis industry experience. If the team members you select don’t meet the criteria and experience requirements for the state’s application, you will not receive the maximum amount of points for the sections and will not be able to write detailed narratives that reflect each team member’s accomplishments. 

Choosing your team early, having those introductory conversations and securing candidates for roles like Director of Extraction, Director of Cultivation and Chief Operating Officer are what it takes to make your application competitive and stand out from the rest. By connecting with an Executive Search agency like H2 Talent, you gain immediate access to our nationwide database of candidates with leadership experience across every facet of the cannabis industry. 

Working with a search firm early on in the process ensures that the selection process will be structured and efficient, resulting in successful placements. It is better to have these candidates lined up and committed to your group early in the process so that your technical writing team can dive deep into their background and bring their experience to life as you complete your application. 

Every point matters, starting early and relying on our industry knowledge and connections can help maximize points in this critical section of your application.