In the last five years, the number of states that have legalized adult-use marijuana has jumped from zero to eight. Despite mixed signals from the current federal administration, more and more states are lining up to follow suit. Add to that the states that have legalized medical marijuana (now a majority of the United States), and you’ve got the makings of a booming job industry. After all, legalization of medical and recreational marijuana leads to a sharp rise in demand, and with that demand comes a growing need for employees.
Earlier this year, Forbes reported that by 2020, the legal cannabis industry is projected to create more jobs in the United States than manufacturing, utilities, or government industries. With over 250,000 job openings on the way, it should come as no surprise that the marijuana industry has an acute need for employees.
But what types of positions are available for someone looking to enter the legal marijuana market and industry? In general, cannabis industry jobs are divided into two categories: plant-touching and ancillary companies. The overall variety of jobs is immense, ranging from growing and manufacturing to customer service, marketing, and financing just to name a few.
Growers work on the agricultural side, growing and harvesting the plants that ultimately make their way into dispensaries. Depending on the location of their companies, growers may have indoor cultivation centers, outdoor fields, or a mix of the two. It is the job of the grower to understand the prime conditions for growing different strains of cannabis; heat, lighting, humidity, and airflow are just a few of the factors to optimize. The grower must perform a constant juggling act to provide the best possible growing environment for each cannabis strain, while ensuring a healthy harvest overall.
Trimmers have the tedious but necessary job of cutting leaves off the harvested bud of the marijuana plant to make sure it looks neat and does not have any stray stems or growths. When it comes off of the cannabis plant, the buds usually have leaves sprouting from around and under the smokable flower. In addition to removing the unwanted stems and leaves, trimmers will often take on the separate task of manicuring the bud, ensuring that it has a sculpted and aesthetically-pleasing shape and appearance.
Transportation and security are two areas that many outsiders wouldn’t consider but are integral careers in the cannabis industry. Federal prohibition means that most dispensaries have a cash-only policy and that there is still a profitable black market for marijuana products. Thus, plant-touching facilities, especially dispensaries, require security to prevent and protect from potential robberies. Armed guards are often needed throughout the transportation process too as operators move infused products or large quantities of cash.
In addition to these needs, many large retail dispensaries also invest in security personnel for legal reasons. Where available, marijuana is only legal to adults ages 21 and older or to card-carrying medical marijuana patients. These laws are strict, and those without proper identification are not even allowed inside dispensaries, so it is not uncommon to see a security guard checking IDs before allowing customers inside.
Budtenders work at retail dispensaries and interact directly with customers interested in purchasing marijuana products. They are well-versed in the genetic history and production of the strains of cannabis available at their store as well as the wide variety of other cannabis products like edibles, vape oils, topicals, and tinctures. More often than not, budtenders based their recommendations on personal experiences with these products, emerging scientific findings, and testimonials from past customers.
Of course, as with any business or industry, there are plenty of positions available for the usual professional services such as marketers, accountants, attorneys, and general managers. In addition, a myriad of technology startups are emerging to solve industry problems from staffing to customer acquisition and loyalty. Conveniently, you do not need to be an experienced marijuana user (or a user at all) in order to work in the industry – and equally conveniently, it is very often seen as acceptable if you are.
While regular job sites may not be the most helpful in finding matches for potential canna-business employees or employers, there are websites devoted to matching job-seekers with quality cannabis companies, and vice versa. Leafbuyer is one such site that is focused on filling positions within the marijuana industry. The website features a jobs board where businesses can post job openings and those seeking employment can search and apply for freelance, part-time, full-time positions.
The cannabis industry is now the fastest growing industry in America. In fact, the growth is larger and faster than even the dot-com era, so if you’re looking for a change of career, a change of pace, or just a change of workplace environment, consider employment in the fast-growing marijuana industry.
Written by: Daphne Eccleston