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Reasons to hire full-time in cannabis versus a consultant. Plus, when’s the right time?

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The most successful cannabis companies will be those that have strong alignment between your HR and Finance leaders.

In cannabis, there are many different types of job functions that require a specific skill set. Historically, it’s been a challenge to find people who have the skill sets needed to work more specialized cannabis jobs. Because of that, hiring consultants was popular. Now, the reasons to hire in cannabis are more prevalent.

As cannabis companies are rapidly growing, finding a good consultant can be the correct solution for operators. There are more specialized third-party consultants in cannabis than ever before. At FlowerHire, we meet skilled consultants all the time.

But now that the industry has rapidly evolved, the argument that it’s hard to hire someone skilled in cannabis is no longer true. There are more people who have worked professionally in cannabis than ever before. It’s possible to hire a strong, experienced full-time employee for specialized roles.

Now that the opportunity to hire highly skilled employees with a specialized skillset is upon us, the question is, when is the right time to hire a full-time employee versus a consultant in cannabis?

FlowerHire is an executive search contingent recruitment that’s done over 1000 senior-level and C-suite placements. Half of our placements have worked professionally in cannabis before.

Whether it’s marketing, sales accounting, cultivation, or accounting, here are the reasons to hire full-time in cannabis and when to know it’s the right time.

Reasons to hire full-time versus a consultant in cannabis

Here are the reasons and list indicators to guide you in knowing when you should hire a full-time employee over a contractor in the cannabis industry. We dive into the reasons and indicators for cultivation and manufacturing, legal and compliance, human resources, accounting and finance, and marketing.

Cultivation and manufacturing

When a cannabis company is building and designing a grow for the first time, they lean on experts for help. It’s common for cannabis companies to hire a consultant who specializes in building and designing a grow.

A few years ago, it was challenging to find full-time employees with enough experience. But, today, there’s a lot of full-time cultivation talent available. Many cannabis facilities are in rural or non-urban areas, and experienced cultivation and manufacturing leaders are used to moving to these areas for work – even as other types of cannabis positions struggle to find employees in small towns. 

Learn how to find employees in rural areas

Learn about hiring, developing, and retaining cultivation talent

While there is a lot of full-time cultivation talent available, it’s important to know when is the right time to hire full-time. Indicators that a cannabis company is ready are when:

  • There’s no one running day-to-day in the facility with the right background
  • Consultants are only available part-time and more help is needed
  • The facility is not meeting its yield goals
  • The company wants to be sure vendors are the best for the company – consultants are often incentivized to use vendors that offer kickbacks
  • The cultivation manager does not have computer or data management skills.
  • The cultivator is skilled, but can’t manage the operation, meet goals, or meet the budget
  • The company is hiring people without industry experience but there is no one full-time to train them
  • The person training new employees is a consultant
  • The second or third facility is being opened
  • You get the sense you have “over-hired” in the facility

Cannabis cultivation salary guide

Cannabis manufacturing salary guide

Legal and compliance

You’re always going to be using third-party contract corporate attorneys, but when you’re hiring and spending well over $10,000 per month – it will get to a point when you will save money by hiring someone in-house. Indicators you’re ready to hire full-time legal support is when:

  • Third-party legal spend is beyond $300,000-400,000
  • There is no contract management expertise in-house
  • Spending $10,000 to $15,000 per month retainer for a compliance consultant
  • The company is using a high-priced third-party corporate law firm for basic legal work
  • Employment-related matters are incurring unexpected costs
  • The company is consistently  working with three or four external councils billing simultaneously
  • The company has raised at least $5-10M and or has revenues north of $1M per month
  • The company is seeking to protect brand intellectual property
  • An expert is needed to manage the company’s internal risk and advise the executive team on implications of strategic decisions

Human resources

Not having a dedicated human resources professional can end up costing companies a lot in the long run. Costs can include payroll, employee turnover, legal fees, onboarding and training, and loss of operational productivity. Having a full-time HR professional helps companies retain employees, avoid lawsuits, while insituting efficient systems and processes. 

Some cannabis have non-HR employees perform HR duties or will hire a third-party HR firm. Here’s how you know it’s time to hire full-time:

  • Non-HR management level employees are spending too much of time dealing with employee relations matters
  • Employees are expressing frustrations regarding remuneration
  • The company has about 40-50 full-time employees and is still hiring
  • Employees are seeking unionization  
  • Employees are dissatisfied with management’s responses to employees’ concerns
  • Retention and turnover is costing too much money
  • There is churn and ongoing difficulties hiring the right people
  • Onboarding process need improvement
  • The company has had challenges offboarding or firing employees without breaking labor laws

Learn more about when cannabis companies need to hire HR

Accounting and finance

There are many great third-party accounting firms that specialize in the cannabis industry.  It’s not necessary for large cannabis companies to build a 30-person finance and accounting team right away —or maybe ever. But there will be a time when it makes sense to bring key functions in-house. It’s time to hire an in-house accounting or finance team when:

  • The accounting firm is struggling to close the month out within one month of closing
  • The firm is struggling to track and report spending 
  • The company is not sure if the products can actually make a profit when sold at retail
  • Following or implementing a formalized budget or financial control is challenging
  • Tracking progress toward budget targets is challenging
  • The company is ready to run the business with complete visibility, including daily, and weekly reports on receipts AR AP, cash on hand, and budget to actual
  • Its executives are getting bogged down trying to manage banking relationships
  • The business is expanding and needs a strategic finance person at the table to help unlock value
  • The company needs someone with experience at the table when raising capital 
  • Payroll issues arise and someone is needed to manage and troubleshoot
  • Someone is needed to monitor multiple cannabis revenue-generating efforts and drive available industry fundraising strategies


Marketing is often one of the last departments that a cannabis company hires for. It’s time to hire a full-time cannabis marketer when the company:

  • Retail and/or branded product strategy needs more mission-critical data-driven decision-making
  • Needs to drive higher retail revenue, improve customer experience, better understand customers, and/or have a more effective marketing strategy
  • Is ready to tie marketing to revenue
  • Has an employee with little-or-no marketing skill sets managing more than a few marketing contractors at one time
  • Does not have data trends such as monthly customer acquisition engaged in organized product innovation strategies
  • Needs to better understand what customers are buying and at what price points
  • Has dispensaries and wants to leverage the data available on patients and customers purchasing habits
  • Will benefit from increased attention to marketing the companies employment brand
  • Has been inconsistently meeting production milestones and product release deadlines and is in needs of in house product or project management
  • Is spending $20,000 to $30,000 per month on contractors

Cannabis marketing salary guide


If you’re a cannabis company experiencing any of the indicators above, it might be time for you to consider hiring a full-time employee over a contractor. 

At FlowerHire, we consult and advise on your hiring strategy through our recruitment services and cannabis executive search. We understand that hiring is a process and your company may not be ready to hire full-time for every role. FlowerHire assesses where your organization is and helps determine which roles are top priority and which roles can wait. Build a cannabis team.

Find cannabis jobs by reaching out to a cannabis recruiter.

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