The highest-paid cannabis CEO made over $31 million: report

Jun 12 2020, 4:07 pm

Cannabis hasn’t been the green rush that it was billed as to bullish investors, but while stock prices might be down, CEO salaries are certainly not suffering, as seen in Bedford Consulting Group’s report on the salaries for the cannabis industry’s boards and executives in 2019.

If one were asked to summarize the report’s findings on executive cannabis pay cheques in a word, it would be lucrative.

That’s not to say that all annual salaries were outrageous, as total CEO compensation, according to the report, ranged from $226,250 for companies with under $100 million in market cap to $1,712,759 for companies with over $1 billion in market cap.

But 2019 was a year that Bloomberg Business Network reporter David George-Cosh would refer to as “annus horribilis” during a recap of the year in cannabis business. According to the Canadian Marijuana Index, a website that tracks stock prices of publicly traded cannabis companies, the market currently sits at around 32% of its pre-legalization highs.

Cannabis Stocks from October 2018 to July 2020 (Canadian
Marijuana Index)

According to The Bedford Report, the highest total compensation received by a cannabis CEO was Brendan Kennedy from Tilray Inc., who received $31,817,459. Equity compensation made up 97% of that number, the largest contribution to his total compensation.

For context, Tilray did report it would be hitting profitability goals ahead of schedule in 2019 but also saw its share price drop just under 80%, as it began the trading at $80.49 and would end the year at just $17.13.

The Bedford Group compiled the information from a total of 166 executives with CEO, president, or executive chair titles in the cannabis industry companies. It also included 407 board members from the industry within the dataset, pairing them against the pay of food and beverage industry leaders as a means of comparison.

The report also notes that approximately 40% of the researched CEOs received an annual bonus payment in the 2018 fiscal year.

It also pays to be on the board.

Board members’ total compensation varied widely at all levels, but approximately 20% of companies paid meeting fees to their boards “ranging from $500 up to $2,000. Most companies determine their meeting fee payments relative to their peers,” the report said.

Median total compensation ranged from $27,278 for directors at companies with a market
cap under $100 million, up to $241,830 for directors at companies with a market cap over
$1 billion.

Interestingly enough, according to the Bedford, “Brian Mulroney received the highest total compensation from Acreage Holdings, Inc. Mr. Mulroney received $13,913,873 and his compensation solely [comprised] equity compensation.”

It pays to be the prime minister.