More than half the states have legalized marijuana for certain medical conditions. Opening up an entire new industry within the economy always brings enormous benefit, especially if that industry had long been operating in the shadows for so long, with an established consumer base. Legal cannabis is an entire industry, requiring support staff and regulators as well. All of this means a big influx of employment opportunities for those in areas where legalization is in full swing. There are a multitude of opportunities in just about every function you can imagine. Some are lucrative, others pay low-wages. Some of the jobs are little out of the ordinary, but that’s probably what draws many workers interested in cannabis jobs. But the industry is in its infancy, and as it evolves, as will the positions within it.
1. The Owner
While owning a marijuana business sounds like the ultimate counterculture move, it brings a mountain of headaches. Many owners say they don’t make the millions that many people think they do. There are legal and banking headaches, and the regulatory landscape is constantly shifting. The owners don’t get to claim the same business deductions that other business owners get, so the expenses are sky high. Many owners front millions of dollars for years before they ever get to see any profits. Still, if you think this industry is in its early stages with years of growth ahead, being an owner can still be a sweet alternative to the grind of a normal job.
Pot growers, that is! Many people have been growing for years, whether it was under medical protection or otherwise, and have developed techniques to cultivate the perfect product. Growing cannabis can be time consuming and expensive, and also requires a lot of skill. There are things like temperature control, space, pests, and seemingly a thousand other issues that can arise, and then finding a place to sell your product can also create issues. But for those who always wanted a chance to be a marijuana farmer, the time is quickly approaching — if it hasn’t yet arrived.
3. Store Manager
Like any retail operation, a medical dispensary or recreational outlet needs a manager. These employees can do very well, especially in profitable stores. At minimum, they can earn $75,000 a year and many get a bonus on top of that based on the store’s sales. When you consider that some stores in California have sales of $3 million to $6 million a year, while some San Francsico Bay area stores do $7 million to $10 million a year, that bonus can be pretty good. Many get vacation pay and health insurance just like a traditional job. Managers can also climb the green ladder and end up overseeing several locations.
A budtender is exactly like a bartender, except for — you know — bud. A budtender is the individual who actually assists customers at the counter by offering their sage advice and knowledge about different cannabis strains, concentrates, and edibles. Essentially, the budtender will help you make the perfect selection for the effect your looking for. The job requires rather extensive knowledge about the products being offered, as well as identifying any allergies or issues prospective customers may have. Pay for budtenders can really run the gamut, but just like a great bartender, a solid budtender can really make or break a business.
Since Washington legalized recreational cannabis use, the Seattle law firm of Harris & Moure has been inundated with new clients. Harris & Moure lists its services under the Canna Law Group and specializes in cannabis-related regulatory compliance, applications, taxes and insuring businesses; it has also branched out to include trademark and copyright protection. Though other cannabis-related legal firms are rare, Allen St. Pierre says the SF law group Pier Five Law does great criminal and appellate work — and he speaks highly of the firm of Evans & Cutler in Massachusetts. For those fresh out of law school, St. Pierre recommends branching out into cannabis law reform by joining NORML’s Legal Committee; attending NORML’s annual legal seminars; and volunteering with a NORML chapter to help challenge cannabis prohibition laws and draft reform legislation.
6. Concentrates Processor
This is a field that requires considerable skill, and can also be potentially dangerous. Concentrates include thingslike hash oils, Rick Simpson oil, dabs and shatter, among others. These products are noted for their incredibly high concentration, which can have powerful effects and be very valuable to medical cannabis patients. The popularity of concentrates is growing rapidly, as vaporizers become more commonplace. As far as creating them, a background in chemistry is helpful, and experience with chemicals and laboratory equipment. Concentrates can be very lucrative, but like anything else, it’s getting more competitive by the day.
7. Edible Creator
Creating edibles might be a dream job for many. The variations in edibles really runs the gamut. If you can name it,there’s probably a marijuana-infused version of it. Soda, oatmeal, baked goods, candy, coffee … the list goes on. Getting into edibles can be difficult, mainly due to its competitive nature. In some areas, every ingredient and levels of THC must be listed appropriately as well. Depending on where you live and your skill level, making edibles can be lucrative, but extremely difficult due to regulatory efforts of local lawmakers.
Cannabis doesn’t fall off the stem in those tight, dried little buds. There is a whole process — or art — to making the finished product look perfect for customer sale. Trimming, although incredibly tedious, can be attractive to many people. Essentially, the process entails taking buds from the plants and chopping off the larger leaves to leave an aesthetically pleasing product. This also helps cut down on excess weight, which ensures customers are getting the most for their money. The job doesn’t pay extremely well, but trimming is a job that needs to be done.
Security is a major concern for cannabusiness owners — especially when they’re dealing in cash-only sales and a product that is considered illegal by the federal government. Dispensaries can hire security staffed by former military or law-enforcement officials (which bodes well for veterans looking to get into cannabis-related business). Video surveillance is also required by law, and must be installed and operated in any area that contains marijuana (cashiers’ spaces, safes, parking lots, growrooms, etc.), so the time is ripe to learn how to install and maintain surveillance units.
10. Courier and Delivery
Made popular by the medical marijuana community, the industry will soon be brimming with delivery and courier services, dropping off customer orders much like a pizza business. Many medical marijuana patients are unable to actually make it in to dispensary locations, so delivery became an attractive option. As retail locations open up, delivery options will most likely come along as well. Whether it be by bicycle or vehicle, couriers are sure to become a part of the lexicon in the near future.
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