Cannabis has come a long way from being an illegal substance to a billion-dollar industry. Although still illegal under federal law, its sweeping legalization for medical and recreational use across various states has created a market boom.
And with this boom comes countless opportunities for employment, revenue generation for local, state and federal governments and investment. However, despite the market boom and the high profit potential it portends, the cannabis industry is still in its infancy. In addition, even in the states where it's legalized, the industry is highly regulated — strict laws make compliance difficult.
Best Cannabis Consulting Companies
Regardless of the stage of your cannabis business, consulting firms can help you navigate operational difficulties and enhance efficiency. Here’s a look at some of the best cannabis consulting firms nationwide.
- Best Overall: Cann Strategy
- Best for Business Development: Canna Advisors
- Best for Production Performance: Higher Yields Consulting
- Best for Banking: Fincann
- Best for Accounting: Bridge West CPAs
- Best for HR and Payroll: Greenleaf HR
Best Overall: Cann Strategy
Cann Strategy can assist with licensing applications, start-up solutions, growth strategy and networking for your cannabis business. They cover project management, regulatory research, advising and more. If you're looking for guidance on location, operational set-up, branding and hiring, Cann Strategy has a full team of experts to guide you in the right direction.
Prepare for success with a growth strategy designed to improve business outcomes with financial modeling, marketing initiatives, and more. Cann Strategy can also point you in the right direction for vendors, technology providers and service experts to get you up and fully functional.
Cann Strategy's pricing structure is typically hourly at $200 or you can get a customized project at a fixed fee for larger engagements. It's best to schedule a quick consultation to dive into your needs and what you can expect in terms of cost and timeline.
Best for Business Development: Canna Advisors
Canna Advisors originated and is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado. As the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, Colorado is a cannabis industry hotbed.
Canna Advisors helped Colorado and its cannabis entrepreneurs create the revolutionary cannabis legislation, and as the industry expanded, so did the company.
Canna Advisors has since become a dedicated mentoring, investing and advocacy firm that excels in consultancy for comprehensive business development. If you're looking for a renowned cannabis consulting company that can help you in every area of your business, give Canna Advisors a shot.
Since its start in 2013, Canna Advisors has helped cannabis businesses nationwide to navigate the complexities of operating across all verticals while adhering to stringent regulations. The company operates in 31 states and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam. It also has a presence in Europe and Canada.
Canna Advisors provides a range of services to assist all cannabis businesses operating within the seed-to-sale cycle. For instance, startups can gain assistance with licensing, facility design, employee procurement and company development.
But the scope of the consultancy isn't limited to helping budding cannabis entrepreneurs or new businesses. Regardless of the stage of your business, it can benefit from Canna Advisors’ business development expertise. Established companies can get help with expansion, growth optimization or exit strategies.
Canna Advisors charges $250 per hour for consultancy — an affordable price, considering what you stand to gain. You can also book a half-hour session for half the price. Canna Advisors has expertise to help you overcome every challenge you might encounter in the cannabis industry.
Best for Production Performance: Higher Yield Consulting
Higher Yield Consulting offers cannabis businesses expert guidance that fosters efficient cultivation, production and distribution to increase yields. This translates to optimized allocation and management of available resources to drive better production performance.
Cannabis seed-to-sale operations have unique challenges, from ensuring optimal growing conditions to cultivation management. Real estate licensing, facility design-build services, financial planning, banking access, branding, banking and legal issues relating to compliance are some challenges that could torpedo operations. High Yield helps cannabis businesses tackle these issues and optimize their operations. Since its inception in 2008, the company has developed exceptional cultivation management systems, business processes and top-tier technical skills.
High Yield provides services across four major verticals: cannabis growth services, cannabis startup services, cannabis facility design and cannabis marketing and demand generation.
With over a decade of experience and more than 4 million square feet of completed facilities, High Yield has proven to be the overall best consultancy for cannabis businesses seeking expert guidance in the rapidly developing cannabis industry.
Contact the company for pricing information.
Best for Banking: Fincann
Fincann is a consulting and advisory company specializing in banking and electronic payment solutions for the cannabis and hemp industries.
This consulting firm seeks to clear misconceptions that handicap cannabis businesses in the banking sector. It helps educate banks on the risks and opportunities of providing banking services to the cannabis industry. It also assists in implementing new finance initiatives, introducing banks to industry businesses that meet their criteria.
Over the years, Fincann has built its Cannabis Banking Financial Network™, a nationwide consortium of over 180 U.S.-based federally insured and industry-friendly financial institutions that provides a comprehensive list of commercial banking services.
Fincann provides cannabis businesses access to these banking services, including compliant, transparent business checking, MasterCard/Visa/Amex/Discover merchant services, cash depository, business-to-business (B2B) electronic payment solutions, asset-based lending, payroll and employee accounts, working capital and cannabis-specific commercial insurance.
Fincann's pricing is slightly complicated because of the range of services it provides. Visit the company’s website or make a call to the office to learn more about cost. Overall, Fincann will connect your cannabis business with banking partners that accept your CBD, marijuana and hemp-related ventures without the need for covert measures or underlying anxiety about losing your banking access.
Best for Accounting: Bridge West CPAs
Accounting is another crucial area of concern for cannabis entrepreneurs. Bridge West CPAs is an accounting firm that offers accounting expertise to help cannabis businesses navigate the complex cannabis industry when it comes to accounting, finances and taxes.
Bridge West was established in 2009 by cannabis finance expert Jim Marty. The firm prides itself on being the first accounting firm in the world to focus solely on the cannabis and hemp industries. Since its inception, Bridge West has provided its expert accounting services to over 600 cannabis businesses nationwide. The consulting company's services aren’t limited to the U.S. Its CPAs and consultants have helped hundreds of cannabis enterprises, both domestically and abroad, navigate a challenging business and legal climate.
The company offers its services to cannabis businesses across all phases of the seed-to-sale cycle. Whether you're a cultivator, retailer, producer or vertically integrated business, the company will help you with your books.
The firm's network of over 100 professionals and its foundational experience in the industry provides clients with the support they need to establish, manage and scale a successful cannabis business.
Best for HR and Payroll: Greenleaf HR
HR is a core business operation in which corporations across all sectors solicit expert help, and cannabis businesses are no exception. Issues such as managing payroll taxes, hiring the right talent and attending customer training are all important in the highly regulated industry. It is crucial to have a consultant-level specialist such as Greenleaf HR to help with HR needs.
Greenleaf HR was created specifically for the cannabis industry. The company can assist your business in addressing both the typical HR issues you're likely to encounter and the particular difficulties associated with operating in the heavily regulated cannabis sector.
The HR firm offers a wide range of services that simplify the complexities of managing your cannabis business's human resources. From HR services to payroll processing and employee benefits programs, Greenleaf addresses the industry's unique and ever-evolving HR issues.
As part of its unique cannabis HR solutions, Greenleaf provides its clients with all-in-one HR software. With this cloud-hosted software, operators can view and manage payroll, onboard and track time and attendance from anywhere. With a dedicated team of human resources professionals, Greenleaf HR assists cannabis businesses in keeping up with personnel management.
Greenleaf HR doesn't disclose its pricing on its web page, but you can request a demo to see how the consulting company can help with your cannabis business’s HR needs.
What does a Cannabis Consulting Firm do?
Cannabis consultants are regarded as authorities on the cultivation aspect of the cannabis business. However, in today's fast-changing cannabis industry, cannabis consultants carry out many tasks to help their clients thrive.
For those who want to start a cannabis business but lack the necessary skills in specific fields, a cannabis consultant could be helpful. Here are some of the top services that cannabis consulting firms provide.
As such, budding entrepreneurs and investors need guidance or help before pouring capital into the industry. Established cannabis enterprises need help monitoring and adjusting to ever-changing state and federal laws, identifying the business-critical gap and maintaining operational efficiency.
That's where cannabis consulting firms come in. Cannabis consulting firms help cultivators and dispensary owners navigate the complex financial and legal challenges that arise during a cannabis business operation. A consultant does more than simply tell you “do it this way”. They’re invested in the success of your business and impart years of experience that you cannot get anywhere else.
Different cannabis consulting firms offer varying services. While some specialize in retail operations, accounting and human resources (HR), others serve niche categories like manufacturing, cultivation and food safety. Generally, the services offered by cannabis business consulting firms include payroll, hiring, HR guidance, accounting, compliance, legal issues, licensing, safety protocols, training and support. Before choosing a consultant, identify your core business needs.
Once you identify these needs, you can work with a consultant who will explain how to improve your business and how those needs impact your operation. Plus, there will be some dovetailing and overlap of which you can take advantage.
Cannabis licensing approval can be highly complex, especially with the heavy regulations and increasing competitiveness in the industry. Each state issues a limited number of licenses in a given period so you won't get approval if your application does not stand out. Cannabis consultants can help with this process.
Most states use a scoring system to rank license applications — the better your permit is the higher your chances of approval. Experienced consulting firms know what to pay attention to.
Cannabis Business Compliance
With regulations constantly changing, it is easy to lose track of compliance requirements. Cannabis consulting companies have qualified compliance specialists who stay up to date with regulations and can help you keep up with the industry's constantly evolving rules. As a result, your cannabis business can remain competitive while staying compliant.
States, where cannabis is legal, require marijuana businesses to use tracking systems such as METRC, which tracks of and verifies cannabis inventories. A cannabis consulting company can also provide training on tracking systems and compliance audits.
Cannabis Business Finance and Accounting
Staying on top of your cannabis business's finances and accounting operations while keeping tax laws in mind can be an up hill battle. But with their extensive experience and understanding of the rules and regulations, a cannabis consulting firm can resolve these issues for you.
Cannabis Facility Design and Building
It takes a lot of planning and money to design and construct a cannabis factory. Numerous elements must be considered, including regulatory considerations — the most minor error could have serious consequences.
Working with professionals who have experience in cannabis facility design and construction is crucial. With the aid of a cannabis consulting firm, you can steer clear of costly errors and ensure that your facility is constructed on schedule. Additionally, they will guide you through the complex regulatory requirements, confirming that your facility adheres to all applicable local, state and federal regulations.
Branding and Marketing
In the rapidly growing and highly competitive cannabis sector, a solid branding and long-term marketing strategy could determine whether a cannabis business will fail. Remember, marketing is more than advertising. There are many ways you can get your business in front of the public—and working with a consultant helps you uncover all those new opportunities.
However, as with all aspects of the cannabis industry, branding and marketing are heavily regulated. A professional cannabis consulting company can help you navigate these hurdles and deliver top-notch e-commerce and marketing services from web design to social media and digital marketing.
Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Cannabis Consultant
Now that you know what a cannabis consultant brings to the table, take a look at common mistakes to avoid when hiring a cannabis consultant.
Fully committing without a demo
A mistake many people make when hiring a consultant is fully committing before understanding what they’re capable of.
The right way to go is to start small. Even if the consulting firm doesn't offer a demo, you can start with specific deliverables to see how they perform. You can scale up to the total commitment if things go well.
Telling your consultant what to do
Another common mistake people make during consultations is telling their consultants what to do. Often, a grower will pay a consultant and then tell him what he wants to do.
When meeting with a consulting company to discuss deliverables and work on your budget, it is essential to check your ego at the door. An advantage of employing a consultant is that they are experienced in different methodologies. You might only know your way of doing things. Remember that you are paying for the consultant's expertise.
When hiring a cannabis consulting company, ensure you can communicate your needs. From the prospecting process to contract finalization, always ensure you pass any message across clearly.
Ensure that there is a rapport between you and your consultant. It is also imperative to establish and maintain clearly defined expectations and results. When expectations are unclear, accountability is lost, and no one can be sure whether the consultant-client relationship is working as hoped.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is cannabis legal?
In the U.S., the use and possession of cannabis are illegal under federal law, but 37 states and Washington, D.C., allow the medical use of marijuana. Recreational cannabis is legal in 19 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam.
Are cannabis consultants expensive?
Cannabis consultants typically charge between $250 to $350 an hour, depending on their location, which is cheap compared to consultancy fees charged in other sectors that can reach $1,000 an hour.