Gettin' Paid - An Introduction to Employment In The Legal Cannabis Industry


Let’s play a game. Raise your hand if you’re currently on the clock and sitting on the toilet while reading this. Chances are that more than just a handful of readers currently have their hand in the air. We will spare you the “it’s never too late to change your career” pep talk that you hear from your partner each time you whine about how much you hate your current job. Instead, we’re going to get right to the facts and discuss some entry points into the legal cannabis industry….we’ll just wait outside until you’re finished. 

Choose Your Path

Now that you’ve finished up (you did wash your hands, right?), let’s get down to it. You either already have a career path or you’re just straight up chillin’ at the moment (see also: you have no idea what you want to do). 

Let’s first take a look at some opportunities for those individuals who have already decided on a career path. Of course, there are no rules against changing your career path and in fact, the cannabis industry is a hotbed for people who decided that they wanted to do just that. 

If you enjoy what you do and you’re good at it, chances are, that there is a place for you in the cannabis biz. There are two approaches that people typically take when making a career in the cannabis industry. The first is the ancillary service route. This consists of occupations that are needed by the cannabis industry, but don’t necessarily touch the plant directly. Here are some jobs that you may have not considered viable in the wonderful world of weed.  

IT/Web & Software Development

Sitting behind a computer all day may sound like a drag to most people, but if this is where you thrive, there is likely a litany of companies in the cannabis space who would like to have a chat. The world of technology is already growing at an astronomical pace on its own. We understand that technology is a competitive market, but if you consider the rate at which cannabis companies are popping up, it is easy to see the potential opportunities.

Canna companies love their technology almost as much as they love their weed. Whether you’re a front-end developer who has a knack for seamless UI/UX or if you fancy yourself an app developer (because name a company that doesn’t have an app these days!), there is probably a cannabis company out there who needs someone with your skillset. The same applies for digital asset and social media management. All those wasted valuable hours that you’ve spent perusing the ‘gram may actually help you out in this situation. 

Graphic Design

These days it seems as if there are two categories of branding and packaging available by cannabis companies. Some are eye-catchingly beautiful and seemingly coax the money out of your pocket by aesthetic appeal alone. Then there are the ones that make you consider giving up weed completely because of how shitty their branding is. 

If you’re a graphic designer looking to get into the canna-industry, give this approach a shot. The next time you come across a cannabis brand who could use some graphic improvements, spend a few minutes to mock-up a “brand re-design”. Send your idea over to them (make sure to watermark your work!) and give them the details…you’re a graphic designer interested in the cannabis space and took it upon yourself to draft some alternatives to their company image. 

If you’re polite and don’t flat out tell them you chose their company because of how shitty their branding is at the moment, there’s a good chance that they will want to speak further. This may lead to contract work as a freelancer but oftentimes, these types of gigs can eventually grow into full-time opportunities. 

Finance/Accounting

You’ve got that business degree under your belt and didn’t know what to do next, so you decided to stay in school to get an MBA. Now you’re sitting on a load of textbook knowledge, student loans, a passion for weed and no clue what is next. Luckily for you, the cannabis industry loves business majors. That’s because so many canna-lovers come up with the latest and greatest cannabis business concepts only to realize that they aren’t exactly business savvy. 

This is where you come into play. Whether your specialty is accounting, management, or finance, there is likely a cannabis company out there who could use your help. Locating the establishments that need this type of help is a little more difficult than browsing the dispensary for ugly logos. This is one area that remains a bit more traditional. Luckily, we live in an era of LinkedIn, Upwork, Zip Recruiter and other online job search platforms. Get that resume polished up and get to submitting! 

But…I don’t have a career path yet….

No worries! The onset of the cannabis craze has not only opened up employment spots for existing jobs, but it has also led to the creation of many new roles that are exclusive to the industry.

Budtender

Probably the most common job that is unique to the world of cannabis employment. Think of budtending sort of like bartending. The differences being that you’re not in an overcrowded loud bar at 2 AM, but instead in a dispensary and you’re not dealing with bachelorette parties barking at you to just, “pour me something sweet” but instead, chill patrons just trying to get their smoke on. In more rewarding cases, you may even find yourself discussing a customer’s health condition in which case you can serve as a beacon of knowledge to help them find relief through cannabis. 

Sure, some people budtend as a seasonal gig and some will be there indefinitely. Regardless of which category you may fall into, don’t ever let anyone try to convince you that budtending is a “low-level” position. Sure, many people use budtending as stepping-stone in their cannabis career, but there will always exist a need and universal respect for budtenders. 

Cannabis Delivery Driver

If you’re lucky enough to reside in a state that allows dispensary deliveries and you’re fond of traversing the town while listening to podcasts, cannabis delivery may be right up your alley. Most dispensaries require that you have reliable means of transportation, driver’s license, and a relatively clean driving record in order to serve as a delivery driver. 

This is a rapidly growing position and one that is likely to be around for a while. The best way to get your foot in the door is to search for dispensaries in your area that offer delivery. From this point, simply reach out and ask for the details on joining their team as a driver. 

Farming Operations/Processing

Just because you grew up in a paved paradise, doesn’t mean that you aren’t capable of getting your hands dirty on a cannabis farm. Easily one of the most rewarding roles in the cannabis industry, farming and processing operations have numerous position types and plenty of room for growth. 

Much like the finance and accounting categories, getting facetime with the hiring manager of a grow operation tends to follow a more traditional route. The first step would simply be making a list of grow ops or processing facilities that you would be interested in and reaching out to them. Typically, these employers are less interested in posting positions online and more interested in individuals showing some motivation. That’s why personally reaching out to gather info on their hiring process is an excellent first step and likely one that will lead to an opportunity. 

Is your tie straight? Do those heels match that dress?

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the new era of employment. One of the best things about an occupation in the cannabis space is that most people are pretty chill. Many of the old school expectations from bosses of a lost generation have gone out the window. For the most part, cannabis employers want their employees to be happy, comfortable and productive. 

We’re not saying you can stop showering or that you no longer need to brush your teeth, but as long as you’re respectful and do your job well, you’re a lot less likely to catch shade from your boss because you have a 5 O’ Clock shadow. Hopefully, this article has caused the gears to begin turning for yourself and your career. These opportunities hardly scratch the surface of what’s available out there. So, clean up that resume, put together a game plan, and get your head in the game! 

Currently, the cannabis industry is only in its infancy and is projected to grow and create jobs at a rate greater than any other business sector. There is a job out there, ready and waiting, for someone like you to stroll by and harvest it. 


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