Suds To Buds: Why Cannabis Is Pulling Talent From Craft Beer

Trading booze for cannabis

Vancouver-based Aaron Anderson was also looking for a recharge when he switched over to cannabis. The sales manager for Parallel 49 Brewing was working yet another beer festival when he ran into an old friend. Anderson and his wife had a one-year-old at home and he told his friend that the mix of alcohol and parenting an infant was starting to take a toll on his body.

“He told me he was working for Agrima Botanicals, a medically focused LP, and said I should come and check out what he was up to, so I followed up a couple of days later,” says Anderson.

Aaron Anderson made the career switch from craft beer to cannabis to be on the frontlines of an emerging industry.

A long-time recreational user in a “cannabis-friendly family,” Anderson was passionate about the legalization of cannabis and wanted to be on the frontlines of the industry at the fall of prohibition to help remove the taboos around the plant. He signed on in a sales position at Ascent Industries, taking a pay cut initially. But in less than a year he was promoted to national director of sales operations, where his salary and benefits exceeded any he could expect in craft beer.

As far as knowledge, the learning curve was steeper than Anderson anticipated.

“I assumed my skills and contacts would be immediately transferable, but I quickly learned that it’s absolutely a machine of its own,” he says.

While the paperwork and provincial liquor regimes were similar to that of beer, the people were all new hires, so he didn’t have any turnkey relationships. Still, he was thrilled “to break bread with government bodies” at the end of prohibition.

Plus, he’s applying his understanding of the craft beer consumer — who's thirstier for new releases and flavours than for one or two flagship beers — to the cannabis connoisseur. Anderson now works for Lifford Cannabis Solutions, which assists licensed cannabis companies in getting their products to market.

As for his alcohol consumption? “I’ve been drunk maybe three times this year, when it used to be that many times a week,” says Anderson. “I don’t even think about alcohol anymore.”