Chart: Cannabis CEOs reap benefits beyond salary

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When it comes to CEO compensation, base salary is often only a fraction of the story – and this is as true in the cannabis sector as it is in other industries.

Total compensation packages for cannabis executives often include a variety of other elements, from stock options to car allowances (part of former Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton’s package).

According to a Marijuana Business Daily analysis of cannabis businesses’ regulatory filings, base salary accounts for an average of 7% of CEO salary at 13 companies in the United States and Canada.

Reported annual base salaries for cannabis CEOs range from a low of $46,875 (New York-based Acreage Holdings) to a high of $750,000 (Harvest Health & Recreation, Arizona).

Total compensation, however, ranges from $150,000 (Trulieve, Florida) to $31.8 million (Tilray, Canada).

Offering a broader package provides many benefits for the companies, including:

  • Pay can be tied to company performance. If the value of your compensation is tied to stock prices, you have an incentive to report performance that boosts those prices.
  • An ownership-stake option allows for companies to better compete for top talent by providing higher overall compensation than straight salary would allow.

As the industry matures, lower-level workers are also seeing more elements added to their compensation packages.

For example, more companies are looking to add 401(k) plans for their employees, including California retailer Harborside.

“I think any successful company has to have that eventually in its arsenal,” interim Harborside CEO Peter Bilodeau said.

“We have to be competitive on all fronts with mainstream industry the bigger we get.”

Read more about salary trends in the cannabis space in the April issue of Marijuana Business Magazine.

Jenel Stelton-Holtmeier can be reached at