Tips for Working with Cannabis Ancillary Businesses

As an industry leading recruiting agency, Mac & Fulton Talent Partners have an inside look at the challenges face by job searchers in the cannabis space. This includes working for both plant touching businesses and cannabis ancillary companies. To this end, M&F Talent takes great pride in helping individuals understand their place in the cannabis market. M&F Talent has partnered with Grower’s Network to help job searchers and cannabis professionals alike find success in this exciting new industry.

In a professional capacity, the cannabis industry has a lot to offer the motivated cancannabis ancillarydidate. This notion has grown exponentially in the past two years, as legalization movements are legitimizing the industry in the eyes of the mainstream. To this end, we are seeing some serious interest in cannabis from high-powered executives in such industries as beer, wine, foods, tobacco, pharmaceutical, and more.

Exciting growth trends aside, there are still some important variables that must be considered by serious job searchers in the cannabis industry. The most important of these elements concerns exactly what part of the cannabis industry one chooses to work in. The cannabis industry presents several distinct verticals of employment – these include plant touching businesses, cannabis ancillaries, hydroponics products, and the hemp market. For M&F Talent’s cannabis career for May, we are discussing the perks and challenges of working with ancillary cannabis businesses.

What are Ancillary Cannabis Businesses?

Ancillary companies are those cannabis employers whose operations don’t directly involve cannabis products. In other words, ancillary businesses comprise the entire industry outside of “plant touching businesses.” For those that did not know, the term “plant touching” is used to describe any business that directly handles cannabis plants or products. That being said, all jobs within the plant touching category are directly related to the cannabis flowwers in one fashion or another. Conversely, ancillary cannabis businesses are structured around, but don’t directly with, cannabis products. Moreover, ancillary cannabis businesses operate in both business to business (B2B) and business to customer (B2C) capacities.

Cannabis ancillary businesses offer variety of goods and services for the cannabis industry. For example, in a B2B capacity, software companies in the seed to sale, ERP solutions, and POS systems fields offer a variety of jobs in the ancillary segment. Also, looking to B2C operations, every business that manufactures and sells smoking products like vaporizers, rolling papers, and pipes fall within the ancillary vertical. Beyond these two very popular career fields, cannabis ancillaries include marketing agencies, harvest technology companies, extraction equipment businesses, security companies, media businesses, staffing agencies, and many more. For the most part, cannabis ancillaries present a lesser known element of the modern industry.

In just 5 short years, vast majority of the cannabis ancillary vertical has sprouted up with advent of recreational marketplaces. This makes sense, as prior to legalization in major arenas like Washington and Colorado, the black market functioned just fine without the complexities of ancillary businesses. For example, new market regulations in the compliance field have stimulated growth in ancillary fields relating to both security and inventory. Similarly, the rise of branded cannabis products has ignited growth with cannabis marketing agencies, packaging companies, and distribution platforms. Needless to say, none of these business models would have served much of a purpose in the heyday of the illegal cannabis grade.

What are the Benefits of Working for Ancillary Cannabis Jobs?

It’s safe to say, almost anybody working in the ancillary cannabis business space has heard the “picks and shovels” metaphor. For those who have not heard the phrase, this age-old adage was coined during the gold rush. It is used to describe the ancillary businesses of the gold rush era that reportedly made more profits than the miners themselves. Looking at the industry of today, countless entrepreneurs in ancillary businesses use the same phrase to describe their operations.

While the ancillary business vertical is certainly not a guaranteed pathway to green rush riches, it presents more stability than the plant touching vertical. Namely because, cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, and plant touching jobs bring with them some inherent legal risk. To this end, those ancillary professionals working with seed to sale software, smoking accessories, or product packaging need not worry about being arrested on the job site.

Looking at the actual logistics of the ancillary marketplace, it also requires less red tape in business dealings than seen with plant touching businesses. Because, ancillary companies can sell their wares and services across State borders, while plant touching businesses are still legally required to operate within their specific State markets.

 What are the Challenges of Working for Ancillary Cannabis Businesses?

The ancillary cannabis business segment presents some unique challenges not seen with other verticals. For starters, the ancillary marketplace is extremely competitive. Plant touching businesses are often guaranteed a level of success due to licenses caps in highly regulated markets like those seen in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Conversely, ancillary businesses are totally at the mercy of market competition. This notion grows even more evident in B2B scenarios, where ancillary companies in fields like security struggle for the business of a few dispensaries and cultivation businesses. Finally, as the legal cannabis industry is so young, many business owners don’t see the value in ancillary service offerings like staffing agencies and marketing companies. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the ancillary cannabis segment will offer opportunity for cannabis professionals.


This article originally appeared on Grower’s Network in May 2019.