Member Blog: The 2022 Cannabis Compensation Survey is here!

by Matt Finkelstein, FutureSense LLC

Gain access to the latest information, trends, and data. DOJ compliant, unbiased, and ready for use.

The Cannabis Compensation Survey is back in action for its third year and is open for respondents thru mid-March of 2022.  

Produced by FutureSense LLC & Marijuana Business Daily, the project will continue to be supported by Green Leaf Payroll & Business Services and is endorsed by the National Cannabis Industry Association. This year, the team has also added Western Management Group – a global leader with decades of experience in designing, developing, and executing compensation and benefits surveys – to assist with data management, calculations, and survey development.

Participation in the survey is vital. Individuals and organizations throughout the industry are realizing the value these results provide. Providing data benefits employees, employers, and the industry as a whole. Participation is easy and confidential – this survey follows all DOJ guidelines regarding confidentiality and anonymity to ensure unbiased results.  

To comply with DOJ antitrust regulations, we welcome organization-wide submissions only and cannot accept individual submissions from sole employees. HR, payroll, and compensation department employees will have access to this data, as well Executives and Owners. Please contact us if you need help with coordinating participation from your team.

This year, the survey will also be focusing on the most critical and unique positions in the cannabis industry. While we recognize that all data is valuable, there are readily available survey sources for certain non-specified or non-industry-specific positions. We aim to produce the most robust and accurate look at the positions that matter most.

Enrollment is open through March 2022. Data submission kits will be sent out starting mid-February 2022 and due back by mid-March 2022. The final results will be published in May 2022.

For more information, to sign up to participate, and to download the 2021 Final Report, please visit

Other highlights/news for the 2022 survey:

  • Improved Data Submission Kit (DSK) – we have redesigned the DSK, making things easier to provide data and match jobs. We will also have job descriptions and leveling schema ready to assist with the job matching process.
  • Focused benchmark job title list – we are honing in on the most critical and unique jobs in the industry. With other survey data readily available for non-industry-specific jobs, we hope this will make things easier and more efficient for all participants to provide their data. The final report will have clearer and more established benchmark job titles and corresponding descriptions.
  • The addition of Western Management Group expands capacity to field, aggregate, and analyze data

  • Brand transition – FutureSense will be dropping its cannabis-forward brand BlueFire Cannabis by FutureSense, simplifying any naming confusions

FutureSense® is a consulting firm specializing in the areas of organization and people. FutureSense provides holistic people strategies that improve business performance. Our specialties include business strategy, motivation and rewards, executive, employee and sales compensation, organizational and individual assessment, leadership development and coaching, human resources, communications, change, and sustainable transformation. Visit us at

Matt Finkelstein is a Consultant with FutureSense LLC and the primary project manager for the Cannabis Compensation Survey. He has a passion for both people and plants – combining years of experience in the organic farming and cannabis communities with his work in people strategies and HR consulting. He believes in the power of cannabis to heal and strengthen individuals and communities alike, and actively works to help cannabis businesses thrive. Connect with Matt on LinkedIn: or email him at

U.S. Cannabis Business Conditions Survey Report Reveals Critical Concerns for the Cannabis Industry in 2022

by Beau Whitney, NCIA’s Chief Economist

As the largest national trade association of the cannabis industry, NCIA works to advocate for and advance the interests of hundreds of member businesses. The recent publication of the Whitney Economics U.S. Cannabis Business Conditions Survey Report offers a granular look at how respondents are feeling, and what they are worried about. 

Survey description

There were a total of 396 respondents to the Whitney Economics U.S. Cannabis Business Conditions Survey. Respondents were either licensed cannabis businesses or ancillary businesses to the cannabis industry, and were from 20 states across the country. According to the report, the objective of the survey was to “establish a baseline of data, and identify the successes and the challenges that operators in the industry are facing.” 

The survey examined policy, regulatory issues, industry successes, and overall industry sentiment using questions around demographics, questions intended to definitively answer a specific question, and questions with the opportunity to offer multiple responses or comments. We are pleased that NCIA members participated in the survey. Because this survey is intended to be conducted on a quarterly basis moving forward, we expect that a growing number of the NCIA membership will want to participate.

Key Takeaways From the Survey

  • Only 42% of respondents are turning a profit. Further, in terms of profitability, female respondents and non-white respondents are faring much worse than white, male respondents. 
    • While 58% of businesses overall are not making a profit (either breaking even or losing money), 62.5% of female-run businesses are not turning a profit and 67.8% of BIPOC businesses are not turning a profit. 
  • Lack of banking, market volatility, and state & federal taxation are the key issues facing cannabis operators. 
    • 72% of respondents stated that access to banking and other financial services was the top issue facing them.
    • Smaller operators are struggling by being pulled in two different directions. On one side is the competition from the illicit market that competes for the same customers as the smaller operators and the other side is the ever presence of big businesses looking to consolidate the market.
    • Taxation is an issue that impacts all businesses regardless of size. Cannabis operators run the risk of being taxed out of business. State policymakers are focused on state issues without considering the impact of federal policy and federal policymakers are not considering the state policy. This lack of a unified tax policy is creating strain on business operators. 
  • The concerns of the industry are weighing heavier on the minds of operators than are the successes, and this is impacting industry sentiment.
    • Business owners are quite proud of their accomplishments over the past year, from increasing opportunities for women and minorities, to doing more for their workers and educating an ever-increasing clientele.
    • Despite this success though, cannabis operators’ concerns far outweigh their feeling of success and this is impacting the overall sentiment.
    • The word cloud on the successes tells a compelling story.

We are very excited that we have now established a baseline of new data that reflects operator sentiment and business conditions. This can help support the narratives with data when having policy discussions at the state and federal levels and to help shape strategy for operators in this space.

“We are delighted on how this initial survey turned out and look forward to surveying the cannabis landscape regularly in the future. We really appreciate the support we received from leading national cannabis organizations such as NCIA.” – Beau Whitney

Video: NCIA Today – Friday, October 22, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every Friday on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.

On the latest episode, Bethany discusses the millions of dollars the cannabis industry is losing each year to moisture, an update on cannabis policy reform in D.C. as the federal government acts on other issues, an upcoming Fireside Chat Webinar with our Government Relations Team on environmental sustainability, and more.

Registration to the Cannabis Business Summit in San Francisco is now open with special limited-time super early bird pricing on tickets available, head to our website for more information today.


Video: NCIA Today – Friday, October 15, 2021

NCIA Deputy Director of Communications Bethany Moore checks in with what’s going on across the country with the National Cannabis Industry Association’s membership, board, allies, and staff. Join us every Friday here on Facebook for NCIA Today Live.


Take A Survey: U.S. Cannabis Industry Sentiment and Business Conditions

NCIA chief economist and his cannabis economics firm, Whitney Economics, are collaborating with NCIA to conduct a national survey of businesses and stakeholders in the U.S. cannabis industry. Below, please find a link to the Survey of U.S. Cannabis Industry Sentiment and Business Conditions. It examines the key issues facing the industry including what you are experiencing when doing business in the industry. The survey seeks to investigate what is working and what can be improved from the perspective of businesses and stakeholders in the cannabis industry.

The goal of the survey is to tabulate ancillary business and cannabis operator opinions on the state of the U.S. cannabis market. Responses are confidential and will be kept anonymous.

Your participation and insights will help policymakers understand the issues that face the industry from your perspective. The survey takes between 4–5 minutes to complete. Please complete the survey by Sunday, October 31.


The initial analysis will be made available to all participants later this fall.

If you have any questions regarding the survey, please contact Beau Whitney from Whitney Economics at

Thank you for supporting this survey.

Survey: Employee Engagement in the Cannabis Industry

Needle Consultants, LLC, presents the Cannabis Industry Employee Engagement Survey

With thousands of employees working in the cannabis industry, the industry has become a significant employer in the states that have legalized cannabis production, processing, and consumption. Ensuring that the industry is creating a satisfying work environment and a fulfilled workforce is key to attracting and retaining top talent and provides certainty to business planning.

Workers today not only seek this sense of purpose within their places of work, but have also been known to accept less compensation, if fulfilled in other ways, offered “nontraditional” benefits, and/or opportunities to engage in authentic community activities.

Marc Ross, Chief Instigator at Needle Consultants

As the leading cannabis industry organization, NCIA desires to see our member businesses thrive, with tens of thousands of satisfied and fulfilled workers, eager to participate and add their talent and passion to our work. We also seek to be an industry that improves the lives of not only our members’ patients, clients, and customers, but their communities.

“I’m really excited to have this opportunity to do a deep dive into employee engagement as it pertains to the cannabis industry” says Marc Ross, Chief Instigator at Needle Consultants, LLC. “It is my belief that by gathering a baseline of this data and identifying opportunities for improvement, we’ll be able to help create a healthier and more satisfying environment for the industry’s workers, which in turn, will elevate the industry overall.”

In this first Cannabis Industry Employee Engagement Survey, we seek to gather baseline data regarding:

·      Overall Worker Satisfaction
·      Worker Needs and Desires around Benefits
·      Worker Desires around Community Engagement opportunities

Who should take this survey?
Employees of direct-to-plant cannabis companies, including cultivation, retail, and processing and manufacturing from MIPs and concentrate companies, with a heavy focus on Colorado-based companies.

The survey is anonymous.

Cannabis companies that self-report participation of over 90% will receive recognition by NCIA in the future report. One lucky participant will even win a complimentary Seed To Sale Show 2018 registration.

How long does it take to complete the survey?
The survey takes approximately 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

How long is the survey open?
The survey will be open for collecting anonymous responses between now and December 1, 2017.

We believe the results of this survey will provide immeasurable value as companies within our industry seek to build happy and fulfilling work environments. The results will be analyzed and compiled into a comprehensive report which will be shared with the cannabis industry at large.

Are you a cannabis industry employee?

Guest Post: Work and Well-Being in the Cannabis Industry

By Kevin M. Walters, Colorado State University

Across countries, continents, and cultures, we humans all have certain things in common. Generally speaking, one of those commonalities is work, which we all spend a huge portion of our lives doing. Since we all devote so much time to work, I often ask myself: “how can we make all this time spent working into the best experience it can be?” As such, my research is devoted to understanding and creating positive work environments that foster a sense of well-being, such as this latest project among workers in the cannabis industry of Colorado.

This isn’t always an easy task to accomplish. A quick Google search on “job stress” or “job safety” will instantly provide thousands of pages showing daunting statistics about how stressed out today’s worker is (like this report by NIOSH) or how dangerous some jobs are based on injuries, illnesses, and fatalities (which the Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks). The general takeaway from all these numbers is that 1) job stress is very real, and continues to increase in society; and 2) while we are continually developing better ways to make safe and healthy workplaces, there is still much more work to be done.

With these discussions in mind, you might be asking yourself: how does all this relate to workers in the cannabis industry? The short answer is “we don’t know yet”. The longer answer is “we don’t know how this relates to workers in the cannabis industry, because no one has ever asked these workers until now.” And that’s where we (my research team and I) come in, to ask these questions and provide the longest (and most thorough) answer we can.

When I first became involved with the cannabis industry, I was on a team to conduct a general health, safety, and well-being assessment for a dispensary in the Denver area. After speaking with the management and workers there, our team quickly realized that best practices for health, safety, and wellness on the job had not been addressed for this industry on a large scale. While we were able to provide our services and fill this void for that particular dispensary, it was only one piece of the puzzle – we need more pieces in order to really know how we can help this whole industry, which is constantly growing and is economically valuable to Colorado.

Additionally, there is more to satisfaction at work than simply being physically safe and healthy. Emotions, relationships, interpersonal communication, thoughts, and feelings all matter, and all play a role in determining how satisfied and happy we are with the work that we do. With that in mind, my research team and I are here to play our part in ensuring a healthy, safe, and happy future for workers in the cannabis industry.

Our team of researchers comes from Colorado State University and the University of Colorado-Denver. We are experts in a variety of fields and topics, including psychology, stress, occupational health, public health, health promotion, training, vocation, and quality of life. In this project, we are combining our skills to conduct a survey about work-related health, stress, and well-being among workers in the cannabis industry of Colorado. We are trying to understand a number of things, including why people choose to work in the industry, what sorts of jobs these workers perform, and how they feel about their job and work environment. We will then give this information back and provide results and recommendations for the industry, free of charge and with no catch.

SurveyIconWe need help from workers in the cannabis industry of Colorado to complete an anonymous and confidential 30-45 minute online survey about your work environment and experiences. Ideally, entire organizations will participate (including management and workers) because this will allow us to paint a better picture of what is happening across the entire industry. In return, each person who completes the 30-45 minute survey will receive $20 in cash or a gift card as a “thank you” for your help! As mentioned above, we will also provide survey results and recommendations to the industry when the project is completed.

Interested in helping? If so, please complete this very brief survey to answer a few questions. After you complete this brief survey, a member of our research team will contact you to follow up and arrange to take the 30-45 minute survey. We are ready and available to come to your worksite with tablets for you to complete the survey on. If in-person tablet surveys are difficult to schedule, we can also email you a survey link or conduct pen-and-paper surveys the old-fashioned way.

Thank you for playing your role in ensuring a safe and healthy future for this industry! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at the email address below.

NOTE: While we recognize the importance of health, safety, and well-being on a global scale (i.e., among industries and workers in other states and countries), we are focused only on Colorado in this study in order to have confidence in how we interpret the data. If we included other states and industries, there would be too much “noise” in the data to really know what we were seeing, given that this study is the first of its kind. Ideally, we will be able to conduct future projects that can examine and answer these questions in other industries as well.

Kevin M. Walters, graduate student at Colorado State University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Kevin M. Walters, graduate student at Colorado State University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Kevin M. Walters is a graduate student at Colorado State University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (the scientific study of the workplace) and a trainee in Occupational Health Psychology (applying psychology to improve the quality of work life, and to protect and promote the safety, health and well-being of workers). He works closely with his advisor, Dr. Gwenith G. Fisher, and his research focuses on positive aspects of the work environment, such as job satisfaction and meaningfulness of work. You can contact him with any questions, comments, or concerns via email at

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