The culture in cannabis

The culture in cannabis


As we continue to watch the Missouri Industry grow and flourish we are starting to see some changes with turnover and staff loyalty. Some of this is due to so many people just trying to get into the industry however they can instead of looking for the position that is right for them. Another big piece playing a part here is License Holder’s company culture and values. I am always so happy to see the MoCannTrade report that shows the number of jobs our industry has created for Missouri. Now, let’s put a little more focus on what happens after we hire the employee. 

The top categories that contribute to high turnover are: lack of training, tools, and resources; poor culture; and lack of motivation. Let’s spend a few minutes on each of these topics individually.

First, we have a lack of training, tools, and resources. When we continue to fight every day to break the stigma of cannabis as medicine it is vital that our frontline workers (budtenders and managers) have a deep knowledge and understanding of the plant, the industry processes, and the products. I can think of at least 4 dispensaries I have visited as a patient in Missouri with chronic lower back pain, where the only recommendation I was given was “Indicas are best for pain.” This should not be acceptable in our market. Knowing and understanding all the ins and outs of cannabis as medicine and also understanding how all the products are made is so important for our patients and soon-to-be consumers. Not giving our employees the proper tools and resources to be successful, ultimately, is a culture issue. 

On the topic of company culture, it seems we are all too quick to advertise how important our people are to us, but how many of us are actually backing that up with action? Are we holding the non-performing accountable and celebrating those who overperform? Are we on track with the employee reviews? Do you host events for your staff to celebrate milestones? Many of the industry’s operators can answer yes to these questions confidently, and for those that can’t, I ask you to take a deep look at what type of company you want to be for your teams. 


Lastly, addressing a lack of motivation. Nothing kills an employee’s drive and loyalty more than a lack of motivation. While most employers are under the impression that it means monetary motivation, and to some it may, most are much more motivated by development and experience. I see so many jobs posted for our industry on Indeed, how many of those opportunities were posted internally first? An example I would like to use is, with the number of budtenders across an organization if none are capable of moving up to a management role, forcing an employer to hire from the outside, how does that reflect on an organization? You would be surprised what people are capable of if just given the opportunity. 

As a representative of the industry, I am motivated by watching the people I have trained and developed succeed. It takes work to get yourself to the top, but it takes leadership to bring others with you.


Suzanne Morrison | STL Cannabis Services

Suzanne Morrison is a Committee Chair at JAINE, a cannabis industry training expert, and the founder of STL Cannabis ServicesWith over 20 years experience in the hospitality industry, and a track record of success and innovative training, Morrison brings a unique perspective and skillset to the cannabis industry. Morrison’s work is a result of her passion and commitment to educate on the medicinal benefits of cannabis and destigmatizing the plant.