Breaking Into The Cannabis Industry - Compliance Manager
By Roger Malespin
January 28th 2019, photo/istock/cyano66
Not surprisingly, the more lucrative jobs in the cannabis industry require both advanced degrees and years of job experience. These jobs can be legal or mechanical in nature, and are often what stands between success and complete collapse for cannabis companies. One of the cornerstones of any serious cannabis business is the Compliance Manager. This important position is the ace of the company, responsible for navigating the ever fluctuating laws and regulations of the industry, and ensuring operations run in an smooth and ethical manner.
A compliance manager wears many hats at a company that all essentially are to helm the company’s legal and ethical direction. As such, they must know the cannabis laws and regulations in the state they operate in to the letter, and ensure every facet of company operation
Is a well oiled machine. Their responsibilities include working closely with the upper management, short and long term planning of company direction, auditing departments, and troubleshooting all legal and ethical problems quickly.
The legal aspect is the most important to the company in the cannabis industry. Laws are always complex in the U.S., and the precarious balance the cannabis industry has to walk as a quasi legal operation is doubly so. Everything from the books to the lower level trimmers have regulations and requirements that must be adhered to. Failure to do so could result not only in fines but much more serious penalties should they flirt with federal offenses. This doesn’t mean waiting for a problem to happen until they fix it; rather, they must have strategies and solutions in place for any potential issues in place long before they happen. The cannabis industry is more sensitive than most to breaches of this nature, and the compliance manager must be able to act decisively and with maximum transparency when they do occur.
They also work closely with or even in the HR or finance departments to ensure all monetary flow is happening legally. Financial departments are the most prone to foul play and inside theft, so another chief responsibility the compliance manager has is to combat corruption and unethical business practices. This is even more important in a cash-only business. On top of this, they will also need to know safety regulations for product consumption, which can cover everything from proper plant environment and cultivation, and ensure sale-ready products are up to state standards.
That sounds like a lot because it is. A compliance manager is a true professional that has the complete trust of the upper management. There are a ton of ways that a cannabis operation can screw up, even minor things that the business owners might not know. In many ways, a compliance manager can be considered the right hand of the business owner - a legal consultant, regulator, and mr. fix-it all rolled into one.
Compliance managers must come to an interview with a robust resume. A bachelor's degree is the bare minimum but a masters in business administration or a law degree is what companies will look for first. Additionally, they will need several years experience with demonstrable success to stand a chance against the competition. This job requires diligence and is best suited for fast thinking, hard working, knowledgeable professionals. It’s a high pressure job, so mental fortitude is also necessary.
A lot of schooling and experience is needed, but compliance managers usually make 6 figures a year. If you have the right credentials and are looking for a career change, the cannabis industry could be the right place for you.