If you’re wondering how much a cannabis CEO makes, you’re not alone. With the recent success of companies like Canopy Growth, Aurora, Jushi, and Cannabiz, the question of compensation for marijuana industry executives has been a topic of discussion. In this article, we’ll take a look at how the average compensation for these CEOs compares to that of the average “mainstream” CEO.
The top cannabis CEOs in Canada made almost $1 million more than the median employee at their company. Canopy Growth CEO David Klein earned nearly US$2.2 million last year. He was paid more than any of his predecessors, who had earned between $45,000 and $75,000 a year.
The average employee at Canopy Growth earned $93,701 a year. His compensation included base pay, a bonus and stock and option awards. In addition, he received a $150,000 annual retainer fee.
Overall, he earned about US$2.4 million. That includes $24.8 million worth of Canopy stock options, plus the value of his options to buy out Acreage Holdings and TerrAscend, the two US cannabis cultivators that Canopy Growth purchased.
On top of his salary, Klein also received a cash bonus of US$1.72 million. He was paid for two and half months of his fiscal year, which ended in July.
In total, Canopy Growth executives earned over $45 million in compensation. Canopy Growth announced a loss of more than $128 million for the third quarter of its fiscal year. This was due to a large increase in restructuring costs and an asset impairment. However, it was offset by increased revenue at BioSteel and BioSteel’s acquisition of BioLeaf Technologies.
In addition, Canopy Growth incurred the loss of almost $1 billion in its fiscal year 2017. That’s a lot of money for a small company, and it’s not surprising that executives are being let go before their incentives are set to vest.
The average marijuana CEO earns around $200,000 to 1.7 million per year. This figure includes salaries, bonuses and equity awards. However, figures can vary widely from company to company.
In the first report ever conducted on executive compensation in the cannabis industry, the Bedford Consulting Group examined data on over 100 companies, separating compensation data by role. They found that CEOs earn an average of around US$200,000 to 1.7 million, while CFOs make around US$100,000 to $430,000.
Most cannabis companies pay executives equity grants. These incentives are designed to encourage the executives to enter into an employment agreement with the company. Ultimately, the amount of compensation received depends on the number of options exercised, the market price of the stock, and the length of the executive’s stay with the company.
For fiscal 2020, the largest U.S. marijuana multistate operators (MSOs) awarded their top executives up to US$2.6 million in salaries and bonuses. Top CEOs at the 15 largest companies earned the most money.
Canopy Growth, the first cannabis company to go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange, offered its CEO David Klein a base salary of US$975,000. He also took home a cash bonus of US$1.72 million.
The largest CEOs in the marijuana industry, including George Archos of Verano Holdings, paid out over $16 million in equity and cash bonuses in 2021. The report also found that only one woman led a company on the list. Kim Rivers of Trulieve was the only female leader of a top 15 cannabis MSO.
There’s no denying that the marijuana industry is booming. More states are approving the drug for medical and recreational use, and many more are allowing adult consumption. That has led to a growing demand for qualified workers in various areas of the industry, including human resources, accounting, and logistics. The competition for top talent is also driving sizable salary hikes for executives.
Cannabis CEOs earn a salary and bonuses ranging from $500K to $1 million a year, with the average salary being in the mid-$300K range. However, the cannabis industry is not yet fully deregulated, so they cannot write off business expenses. This means they end up paying tax rates that are almost 70% higher than other industries.
But in the end, their average pay is still more than two hundred times what the average Canadian worker earns. This means that CEOs of successful cannabis businesses stand to make the most money in the marijuana market.
Top compensation paled in comparison to other industries, and the ten highest-paid marijuana CEOs topped the million dollar mark in total compensation. Among the names topping the list was George Archos, CEO of Verano Holdings.
Other notable figures include Irwin Simon, the CEO of Canada’s largest marijuana company, Tilray. He was the country’s highest-paid CEO last year. His total package was more than US$28 million, with one-time equity grants valued at $15 million and a stock award of $15.3 million.
The average cannabis CEO salary is between $200,000 and $1.7 million. However, there are a variety of factors that can affect a company’s compensation. For example, executive bonuses are based on a company’s performance and can range from five percent to twenty-five percent.
While the industry is growing, it is also susceptible to many issues. For instance, some cannabis companies have had to write off large expenses. Additionally, the highly regulated market can make it difficult to generate growth.
The industry is expected to grow quickly. But as it does, it is important to stay abreast of any changes that may impact the sector. One issue that might impact future compensation is the federal tax code.
Section 280E of the federal tax code is a controversial one, as it has been used to impose taxes on the marijuana industry. In the past, there have been lawsuits filed to challenge its validity. Unfortunately, those lawsuits have failed. This means that cannabis companies must pay high tax rates.
Compensation for cannabis executives is determined by the board. Executives can receive equity awards and cash bonuses. Companies with a market cap of over $1 billion often pay out more. Some companies are willing to pay high-dollar salaries to attract top talent.
Most Cannabis companies pay out equity compensation to their executives. These equity grants are used as a way to reward employees for a long-term employment contract.
Women in the C-suite
In the cannabis industry, women are bringing in expertise and perspective. They are also marketing their products. However, the percentage of women in the C-suite is still low. It is a long way to go to achieve gender parity in the marijuana sector.
The good news is that the gender gap is shrinking. Although male leaders remain dominant, the percentage of women in leadership roles has been growing. But, the percentage of female executives in the cannabis industry is still below the national average.
A recent survey by Vangst found that women comprised 38.5% of the employees at 166 cannabis businesses in 17 states. Another survey found that women hold 18% of the C-level positions in the tech industry.
As for the women in the C-suite, there are several factors to consider. One is the cost of doing business in the cannabis industry. While the legalization of marijuana in 29 states has helped reduce the cost of cannabis, it is not cheap to operate a legal cannabis business.
Another factor is the lack of access to capital. Women are often excluded from equity ownership opportunities. And, investing in stocks and options can be risky.
Lastly, there is a lack of mentorship and support for women. Among the most important steps to help close the gender gap is to improve the mentoring and hiring practices of the companies that employ them.
Marijuana CEO compensation compared to typical “mainstream” CEO
It’s no secret that the cannabis industry has made an impact on the business world. Despite the federal prohibition on the substance, the industry is making billions of dollars in sales, with a portion of that going to states and municipalities.
The marijuana industry has a few great jobs, and the average pay is pretty high. However, the industry has a few downsides: higher costs to do business and double standards when it comes to employment practices. There are some laws that disqualify candidates who have a prior criminal record for using cannabis. In addition, qualified candidates from non-cannabis fields are reluctant to apply.
To wit, there is a small but growing group of cannabis businesses that are putting the best and brightest to work. One of them is Viridian Staffing, a Seattle-based cannabis recruitment agency. Their website features a list of open positions and a link to their employment application platform. A couple of other organizations are also hiring for the cannabis-curious. These include MedMen and MadMen Enterprises.
The best way to assess how marijuana companies compensate their executives is to check the fine print. While many are vague about details like how much money they give their CEOs and their stock options, several are more forthcoming. Some marijuana multistate operators even go as far as to provide equity awards every two years. As such, their compensation packages can vary drastically from year to year.