As one state after another has made the decision to legalize weed, it has been caused for celebration – but not just for the obvious reason.
It’s worth thinking about the drivers behind this legislative change. Sure, public opinion is part of it, but it’s not just because State Senators love stoners and want them to be happy.
The legal cannabis industry also generates billions in tax dollars. That implies revenue being generated by cannabis-related businesses. And that in turn implies jobs and career opportunities in the weed industry.
Let’s take a look at a cross-section of the opportunities out there.
The name is obviously a play on bartender, but actually, a budtender is a cannabis dispensary’s version of that teenage sales assistant in a cellphone shop who knows everything there is to know about the different handsets. You have to be personable and outgoing, and a flair for sales would be useful. But most important of all, you need great knowledge and experience of the different strains.
Budtenders don’t earn a fortune, but the job serves as a great entry point, and given the speed, the sector is growing, and promotion opportunities are plentiful – you could be running your own dispensary in no time.
On the other hand, if you have some retail experience, you could dive straight in for that top job right now. New dispensaries are opening all the time, and every one of them needs an experienced manager at the helm. Obviously, you need experience, and it’s a perfect step up if you’ve previously worked at the team leader level in a cannabis dispensary.
However, it is also an ideal role for anyone with retail management experience in a different sector. Running a dispensary is really not so different from running any other retail outlet. It’s all about managing staff, dealing with vendors, ensuring that all laws and regulations are met, and so on.
Prefer to be away from the public and just work with cannabis? A harvester is actually responsible for more than just harvesting weed. You’ll also be involved in the broader process including pruning plants and packing the buds after harvesting. It’s quite labor-intensive and is the sort of work that is automized for many crops. However, cannabis still needs the human touch.
As with the budtender, a harvester is very much at entry-level. If you love to grow weed and have a talent for it, it’s definitely worth considering as there’s an opportunity to rise all the way to the role of the master grower (and a salary in the region of $150,000) in time.
There’s scope here for everything from entry-level jobs washing out bottles to highly skilled specialist roles. Weed needs to be regularly tested to monitor the levels of THC, as well as heavy metals, pesticides, and so on. The process of preparing the samples, running the tests, issuing the reports, and maintaining the lab equipment involves a bigger and more diverse team than you might think.
This means there are career opportunities for all, whether you are just starting out or you’re looking to take a sideways step from a tech or laboratory role in a different sector. Keep in mind that every lab also needs HR, IT, and other such support functions.
This is seen by some as the ultimate laboratory role within the cannabis industry. An extractor is responsible for making the different cannabis concentrates that you see on sale, such as CBD oil, vape juice, rosin, live rosin, bubble hash, and so on. It’s a highly skilled job and is somewhat hazardous as you spend your days working with flammable, toxic, and potentially explosive chemical processes and reagents.
To work as an extractor, you’ll need a degree in chemical engineering, and a solid track record working in chemical extraction, but again, this doesn’t necessarily have to have been acquired within the cannabis industry. If you’ve got the right experience, you can practically write your own paychecks, and the bigger companies are rumored to pay their top extractors something in the order of $200,000 per year.
The vital importance of eCommerce has come into sharp focus in view of everything that has happened in the world over the past 12 months or so. That’s as true in the legal cannabis business as it is in any other, and the simple fact is that buyers are more likely to purchase their weed, or their seeds for cultivation, from an online store than from a dispensary.
It boils down to the fact that any cannabis business needs a good web presence in order to succeed. That means an SEO-optimized website, a strong and active presence on social media, a user-friendly eCommerce platform, a mobile app, and probably lots more besides. If you’ve got experience and talent in any of these fields, there are opportunities aplenty.
Not every role requires special expertise, years of experience, or glowing academic qualifications. If you’re a little light in these areas, there are still job openings and a delivery role could represent the perfect foot in the door.
Dispensaries often offer delivery services to customers, especially those who buy weed for medical reasons and are in vulnerable groups. There are also delivery roles to be had in the overall logistics of cannabis retail, getting stock out to dispensaries, and so on.
The main requirement is a clean driver’s license, good communication skills, and no criminal record. As the job might involve interacting with vulnerable people in their homes, be ready to submit to some background checks, too
After all, imagine if the recipient was your elderly relative – you’d want to know anyone entering their home had been double and triple-checked!
At an average retail price of $320 per ounce, weed is a valuable commodity. This means security needs to be as tight at facilities involved in its cultivation, storage, and sale as it does for businesses dealing in jewels and precious metals.
There are numerous security jobs available, and this is an area in which experience in a related role can provide the perfect stepping stone. So if you’ve worked in law enforcement, the military, or as a security guard in another industry, it is well worth considering.
Where to look?
Now you’ve got a better idea of the sort of roles that are available out there, your next question is probably where to find them. In short, searching for a job in the weed sector is no different from job-hunting in any other field.
The usual methods of networking, looking at job boards, and seeking referrals are as applicable here as everywhere else.
There are also a handful of specialist sites that focus on jobs in the weed sector, so it is worth registering with them too. They include Cannajobs.com, Ganjapreneur.com, and Ms. Mary Staffing, so give them a look. Good luck!