Cannabis executives raked in millions in total compensation last year, according to a report from the Bedford Consulting Group, a Toronto-based headhunting firm.
The report’s authors analyzed the total compensation — including salary, equity, and stock options — of 437 cannabis-industry executives at 96 companies using publicly available data, Frank Galati, one of the report’s authors, told Business Insider.
The report, published in late May, looked at the total compensation of these executives over the 2019 fiscal year, which ran from June 30, 2018, to June 30, 2019. Cannabis stocks slumped about 9% in that period, according to an index of major cannabis retailers and cultivators, and went on to tumble significantly later in 2019.
Brendan Kennedy, the CEO of Tilray, pulled in over $31 million, though Tilray underperformed some of its peers in 2019. It’s important to note that 97% of Kennedy’s compensation came from existing shares and stock options, meaning that his future compensation will likely be significantly lower based on the stock’s performance, Galati said.
Robert Daino, the chief operating officer of Acreage Holdings, pulled in over CA$19.5 million, followed by Kevin Murphy, the former CEO of Acreage, who was compensated with over CA$10.1 million in equity, stock options, and salary. Murphy remains on Acreage’s board.
Because of the high executive turnover in cannabis, many of these executives are no longer employed by these companies.
Peter Aceto, the CEO of CannTrust, was fired after the company was found to be growing unlicensed cannabis, some of which was transported across borders via the illicit market. Both Bruce Linton and Mark Zekulin are no longer with Canopy Growth — the Canadian cannabis giant has a new CEO, David Klein — and Torsten Kuenzlen is no longer the CEO of Sundial Growers.
Women are severely underrepresented in the cannabis industry’s top ranks, according to Bedford’s report. Only 8% of cannabis executives at the 96 companies surveyed are women, and the top-paid executives in the industry are all white men.
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