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Top 9 Cannabis Consulting Firms (2023)

Overview

Curious about cannabis consulting firms and how they can impact your journey in the thriving cannabis sector? No matter where you are in your business journey, whether you are looking to get into the industry or exit out; whether you’re looking to open a dispensary, manufacturing, grow, lounge, or haven’t decided which direction to go, this article is tailored for you. We’re here to provide you with insights into what cannabis consulting firms are all about, why they’re crucial, and the value they can bring to your endeavors. Learn how to choose the right firm for your needs and explore our curated list of the top 9 cannabis consulting firms.

What Is a Cannabis Consulting Firm?

A cannabis consulting firm is a professional services company that offers expert advice, guidance, and solutions to businesses in both the medical and recreational cannabis industries seeking to improve their operations, overcome challenges, and achieve their strategic goals. 

Business consulting firms vary in their approach, offering both specialized focus and a wide range of expertise. They may employ consultants who have expertise in areas such as business development, management, strategy, banking, operations, finance, marketing, human resources, technology, and more. These consultants work closely with clients to analyze their current practices, identify opportunities for improvement, and develop actionable plans to achieve desired outcomes.

Whether you’re a startup, an established business, or looking to expand operation, cannabis consulting can help you obtain the necessary information to make informed decisions and understand your next steps to thrive in the fast-paced legal cannabis industry. 

Why is cannabis consulting important?

Operating a cannabis business is a complex endeavor and involves more than just growing or selling the plant. The expertise required for success spans legal, regulatory, technical, and business domains.  With all the complexity and needed expertise in certain facets of a cannabis business, you’ll likely need to work with a consultant at some stage in the business’s development. Their guidance not only helps ensure legal compliance but also maximizes operational efficiency and strategic positioning, ultimately increasing your chances of a successful venture.

Some businesses may succeed without employing outside consulting, however, the risks and challenges evident in the industry highlight the need for professional guidance. Without consultants, your business may be vulnerable to these potential risks and challenges, lack strategic direction, and miss growth opportunities.

What They Can Do for You

Various consultancies have emerged to provide specialized services and support to businesses in the industry. These consultancies cater to a range of needs, addressing specific challenges faced by cannabis entrepreneurs and companies at different stages of their development. 

There are cannabis consultancies that have very specific focuses such as Fincann which does cannabis banking, others that focus on certain business stages whether licensure or assistance with exits, and there are those that offer comprehensive support for all business needs such as Cannaspire.

Regulatory Compliance: Cannabis consultants decipher the labyrinthine regulatory landscape, ensuring your business adheres to legal requirements at local, state, and federal levels. Furthermore, a consultant can provide audits, employee training, SOPs, and other systems to help. 

Strategic Growth: Consultants provide invaluable insights into market trends, enabling you to shape your business strategy, identify target markets, and formulate effective marketing plans.

Operational Excellence: By optimizing your operations, consultants enhance efficiency, reduce costs, and streamline processes across cultivation, production, distribution, and retail. This can include operational audits, training, development of systems, or standard operating procedures.

Product Innovation: Leveraging their deep understanding of consumer preferences, consultants aid in the development, branding, and packaging of cannabis products that resonate with your target audience.

Financial and tax expertise: From financial modeling to investment strategies, consultants offer financial guidance, ensuring your business remains robust and sustainable.

Cannabis Licensing: Consultants navigate the complexities of license applications and expansions, ensuring your growth plans align with regulatory requirements.

Expansions: They can help you achieve a successful and well-executed expansion, whether it’s multi-state or within a single state. Each state comes with their own set of regulations and challenges and being an MSO can pose its own unique set of operational challenges and best practices to be implemented. 

Exits: Consultants can help protect investments, assess value, ensure compliance, and create a strategic roadmap. Starting this dialogue early, years before the actual exit, enables thorough research and planning, contributing to a well-executed and profitable transition.

Risk Management: Cannabis industry experts identify and mitigate legal, regulatory, and reputational risks, safeguarding your business’s long-term prospects.

Networking Power: Consultants leverage their extensive networks to foster partnerships and collaborations, opening doors to suppliers, distributors, legal experts, and other vital contacts.

Education and Training: Through comprehensive training programs, consultants equip your staff with the knowledge and skills necessary for compliant and efficient operations.

How To Choose the Best Cannabis Consulting Firm

When it comes to what can help drive your success, no one is an island. Cannabis due to its complex requirements that can require knowledge to succeed as diverse as plant knowledge, marketing, waste management, regulatory compliance, banking, sales, raising funds and more. Therefore those who are involved with your business whether partners, associates, or consultants must be carefully considered.

In this world, there’s what you know, what you know you don’t know and what you don’t know you should know. Let’s address each of these and how it might apply to how you approach choosing and interacting with consultants.

  1. What you know – This encompasses the skills and knowledge you and your team already possess. When considering a cannabis consulting firm, it’s essential to evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses. Identify the areas where you already have expertise and where your team can confidently handle tasks. This self-awareness will guide you in selecting a consulting firm that complements your existing skills.
    Considerations for looking for services of consultants for what your team might already have competency can range from considering consulting if a specific goal can be achieved at a lower cost or if one has a temporary need and requires bandwidth that the team would otherwise not have at a given time. 
  2. What you know you don’t know – Acknowledging gaps in your knowledge is a crucial step towards growth. As you delve into the cannabis industry, you’ll encounter aspects that are unfamiliar. These are areas where a consulting firm can excel. When seeking a consultant, focus on their specialization. Do they have a proven track record in the areas you lack expertise? Look for consultants who have successfully guided other businesses through the same challenges you’re facing.
  3. What you don’t know you know (unknown unknowns) – This represents the blind spots you might not even be aware of. The cannabis industry is constantly evolving, especially in terms of regulations and market trends. A reliable consulting firm should not only address your known challenges but also bring attention to unforeseen issues that could impact your business. This is why it is valuable to have ongoing dialogues with consultants and experts that can point these areas of potential unforeseen growth out to you or potential pitfalls.  

Selecting the Right Cannabis Consulting Firm:

Identify Your Needs: Clearly define your goals and requirements to determine what specific assistance you require from a cannabis consulting firm.

Industry Experience: Look for a firm with a proven track record and substantial experience within the cannabis industry. Typically the consultancy will be able to provide a reasonable explanation of experience that displays competence. Anyone can put a website up and call themselves a consultant or industry expert. Make sure this is backed up with experience or talent. 

Credentials: Verify the firm’s qualifications, certifications, and affiliations to ensure they meet industry standards.

Reputation: Research the firm’s reputation and client feedback to gauge their reliability and success rate. Running a google search on the experiences of clients that have worked with the individual or consultancy will give you a picture of what you can expect. 

Understanding of Regulations: Opt for a firm well-versed in the complex and evolving cannabis regulations to avoid legal issues. One can be very strong in helping you grow your business but without some level of guidance with regulatory competence, this can put your business at risk. 

Communication Skills: Prioritize consultants who communicate effectively and keep you informed throughout the process. Even those that are experienced can be weak in communication skills and this will translate into a poor experience and delivery of results. You will get a sense of this through your initial interactions. 

Assess the consultancy for “value” and “budget”: Make sure the consultant’s services fit your budget but also at the same time stay focused on determining the value. While there are certainly service providers that overcharge for what they do, one of the most common mistakes one can make is trying to go for the cheapest option. We have seen many experiences where one tries to simply go with the lowest cost consultant and gets themselves in a costly mess whether it’s not achieving licensure or adding risks such as security vulnerabilities or issues surrounding regulatory compliance. 

Top Cannabis Consulting Firms

Cannaspire

Cannaspire, founded in 2018 by seasoned Wall Street, regulatory compliance, and security experts with 80+ years’ combined experience, offers comprehensive services to cannabis and psilocybin businesses in the US and Canada. Cannaspire is 75% woman-owned and  WBENC-certified. 

Cannaspire is a full-service cannabis consulting firm. Our experts and writers have developed SOPs, environmental plans, workforce strategies, safety protocols, and security plans. We create easy-to-follow handbooks, manuals, audits, and training materials, ensuring hassle-free recordkeeping. This saves time during inspections and ensures compliance with regulations. We provide ongoing support to keep your materials up-to-date. We assist with IPM, cleanroom protocols, and advanced cultivation technologies for optimal garden control.

We assist businesses moving towards full licensure by offering solutions for state and federal compliance, streamlined recordkeeping, time-saving regulator preparation, and enhanced garden control. Our services encompass various areas including custom SOPs, environmental plans, workforce strategies, security plans, employee handbooks, operation manuals, audits, checklists, training materials, cleanroom protocols, and operational readiness.

Services: 

  • Licensing – Cannabis Business Plans, Cannabis Business Consulting Call, Cannabis Licensing Services, Cannabis Security Plans.
  • Cannabis Consulting – Connector Services, Third-Party Cannabis Vendor Management, Cannabis Operational Readiness, Exit Strategy / Mergers & Acquisitions.
  • Security – Cannabis Security Plans, Security Products, Cannabis Cybersecurity, Diversion Investigation, Workplace Violence Training Programs, Security Risk Consulting.
  • Compliance – Cannabis Compliance Consulting, Hemp / CBD Regulations & Compliance, Psilocybin Regulation & Compliance, Compliance and Policy Consulting for State and Local Officials.
  • Technological Solutions – Point of Sale Software Solutions, WiFi Solutions, ID Scanners, Network Design & Implementation, Mobile Device Management, Phone System Solutions for Cannabis Business, Cabling and Wiring for Cannabis Industry, Seed-to-Sale Software Solutions.

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Bridge West

Bridge West is a cannabis consulting firm that has been operating since 2009 and has served over 600 cannabis clients nationwide. They specialize in tax issues and offer various services, including minimizing IRS 280E effects and preparing audited financial statements. Based in NYC, their mission is to enhance success for cannabis businesses and promote industry growth by providing expert guidance, supporting license applications, and ensuring regulatory compliance for dispensaries and brands.

Services: 280E Mitigation, IRS and State Audit Assistance, Cannabis and Hemp Advisory Services, Cannabis License Application Advisory, Business Valuation, Audit and Assurance, Tax, Outsourced Accounting Services, Investment Advisory, Technology Services.

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Higher Yields Consulting

Higher Yields Consulting (HYC) is a Denver-based cannabis consulting firm specializing in garden management systems. With extensive experience since 2008, they offer professional and business expertise to assist companies in various areas, including applications, design-build, operations, compliance, branding, marketing, data analytics, and more.

Services: 

  • Cannabis Startup Services – Regulations by State, Feasibility Study, Business Plan, Applications & Permits, Grants, Compliance & Audits, Social Equity Program.
  • Cannabis Facility & System Design – Facility Design (A&E), Construction, HR & Team Building, Cultivation Facility Training, HYC Value Added Systems.
  • Deployment & Demand Gen Services – Branding Services, Marketing Services, Web Design & SEO, Product Packaging & Design.
  • Cannabis Growth Services – Business Development, Mergers & Acquisitions, Investing, Property Evaluations, Real Estate, Property Listings, Banking.

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Emerald Elite Consulting 

Emerald Elite specializes in working with owners, investors, and well-funded startups in the thriving legal cannabis industry. They offer over 40 years of combined cannabis growing experience from the renowned Emerald Triangle. Benefit from two decades of individual marijuana grow expertise in California’s Emerald Triangle. They take pride in their approach to lab and quality control screenings, ensuring freedom from mold and pesticides. With a network of Northern California experts and cannabis pioneers, they provide invaluable knowledge.

Services: Large Scale Cannabis Operations Consulting, Large Scale Cannabis Operations Consulting, Retail Cannabis and Marijuana Dispensary Operations Consults 

Greenleaf

Headquartered in Central California, Greenleaf HR is a prominent cannabis human resource management company. With over twenty years of experience, they specialize in streamlining human resource management for cannabis-based companies throughout the country, allowing clients to focus on their core priorities. Their tailored services are designed exclusively for the cannabis industry, aiming to eliminate back-office complexities and costs. Greenleaf HR is committed to supporting the cannabis industry’s growth and well-being and offers expert guidance in human resources, business development, and 280E tax law to ensure compliance and protection for their clients.

Services:  Human Resources, Payroll & Tax Services, Employee Benefits, Banking Services

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Sapphire Risk Advisory

Sapphire Risk is the oldest licensed national cannabis security consultancy in the US. They specialize in assisting clients with winning cannabis business licenses, establishing secure facilities, and implementing security training and SOPs for long-term success. With a track record of serving over 800 cannabis business clients in 36 states, they have achieved an average application score of 96%, saving time and money while ensuring property security.

Services: Cannabis Security Consulting, Cannabis Business Licensing, Security Floor Plan Design, Secure Facility Build-Out, Standard Operating Procedures, Risk Assessment, Security Training.

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Fincann

Fincann is a recognized one-stop resource for compliant and transparent marijuana banking and financial services for the cannabis industry. They have served hundreds of clients across the U.S., including overseas companies with U.S. operations, providing essential financial services like marijuana banking accounts and payment processing.

Services: Compliant, transparent business checking, Cash depository, MasterCard/Visa/Amex/Discover merchant services, B2B electronic payment solutions, Payroll and employee accounts, Asset-based lending, Working capital, Cannabis-savvy commercial insurance.

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3C Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting

3C Consulting, LLC is a leading strategic consulting firm in the global cannabis industry, with experience guiding nearly 1,000 cannabis companies across 42 US states, two territories, and 27 countries. Their expertise spans agriculture, project management, legal compliance, marketing, and more. They assist businesses with business plans, real estate, financial models, and SOPs to ensure compliance with local and international standards. From cultivation to retail and distribution, their mission is to foster a mature, safe, and regulated cannabis industry with profitability and environmental sustainability.

Services: Strategic Guidance, Business Planning, License Application, Real Estate, Regulatory Compliance, International Good Practice Compliance, Operational Support, Investment Due Diligence.

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Point7 Group 

Point Seven Group (Point7) is a highly experienced global cannabis consulting firm known for agility, speed, and exceptional service. They partner with clients to build forward-thinking, compliant cannabis organizations, transforming companies through optimizing people, systems, and processes. With offices in Colorado, California, and Ohio, they have served over 110 clients in 75 markets worldwide, winning over 80 licenses. Their holistic, seven-phase service offering covers pre-application to branding, operations, compliance, expansion, and exit, ensuring long-term business success for each client. Their success is tied to their clients’ success.

Services: Joint Ventures, Brand & Marketing Strategy, Cannabis Operators, Dispensary Design & Operations.

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