Are big cannabis CEO’s already a thing of the past?

Published Feb 26, 2020 10:00 a.m. ET
iStock / gorodenkoff

When looking back over the last year of cannabis business news, one can't help but notice the movement that was implemented. The executive positions, in particular, have for some cannabis businesses disappeared or, at the very least, spotlighted, and to some degrees, they have been shaken up. The children's game of musical chairs comes to mind when looking at the cannabis CEO positions that have come and gone from cannabis businesses today.

In the past few months, CEO's from big cannabis businesses have changed seats, and some have moved to what are perhaps greener pastures. This move is not one that is exclusive to Canada. The United States of America has also joined the party game and included CEO executive positions in their somewhat struggling cannabis businesses. Some of the noted cannabis businesses that have been affected by what can be called the CEO chair dance include:

  • Canopy Growth
  • Aurora Cannabis
  • MedMen Enterprises
  • Sundial Growers
  • CannTrust

Cannabis CEO updates

Aurora Cannabis, whose roots belong to Canada, has implemented what they call a comprehensive reset, where the company will incorporate a narrowed focus on core markets while drastically scaling back on all unnecessary expenses.

The firm has accepted the resignation of Terry Booth, the CEO. Along with this move, the company implemented the elimination of about 500 cannabis jobs. The interim CEO, Michael Singer, suggested that the company is on the lookout for a permanent CEO. The candidate who will be filling the position will have consumer packaged goods experience in their repertoire.  The latest CEO to walk away from his job Booth has failed to live up to the investors’ expectations.

MedMen saw its co-founder and CEO stepped down while ballooning operating expenses and unsustainable losses surrounded the company. Sundial Growers announced that Torsten Kuenzlen has other interests that he is pursuing. His stepping down from the CEO was effective immediately. Zach George has since assumed the position for the immediate and foreseeable future.

Supreme Cannabis Co Inc. has had a change in the lineup of the executive team of the company in the past twelve months. Colin Moore has replaced Navdeep Dhaliwal's position as CEO. The company is following a noted trend of cannabis businesses.  

The U.S.A. and Canadian cannabis companies are eliminating top executives that were part of the founding team. The replacement of these positions is being given to leaders that have experience in the more mature consumer side of the cannabis product industry.

When looking at the extreme movement in the budding CEO positions, it is well noted that most of the top producers have had the CEO’s or other senior executives replaced or removed from their staff lineups. It would appear that there is a struggle to lure quality leaders to cannabis businesses. The challenging cannabis sector has become a harder draw in the attracting of the needed top talent executives.

The necessary attraction to senior talent executives from the consumer products sector has become more difficult. Experts of cannabis businesses believe that the cannabis space and industry has surpassed the skill set of the founding CEO's.

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