Opportunities in The Cannabis Job Market

2020 was a big year for the legal cannabis industry.  Employment in cannabis-related fields exceeded that of many mainstream industries, including nurse practitioners and web developers.  Cannabis added over 77,000 full time jobs in 2020 alone, even as the pandemic caused other jobs to shutter.  That’s 32% year-over-year job growth.  By 2025, the legal marijuana industry will employ up to 600,000 full-time workers across the US.

Signs point to continued growth for the cannabis industry.  1 in 3 Americans now live in states with legalized marijuana.  Support for legalization continues to grow across the nation.  Montana is the newest state to allow recreational use, beginning in 2022.  As legalization comes to more states, so too does the need to set up shop to meet demand.  Employees who get in on the action early at entry level have the chance to advance rapidly.  Someone who begins as a harvester may become a master grower before the decade’s out, with the salary to match.  

What kinds of jobs are available in the cannabis industry?  All kinds.  Some require specialized education, but others are available to everyone.  Delivering marijuana as a driver isn’t much different from delivering other types of goods.  Trimmers or cultivators for cannabis crops are often recruited from cooks or dishwashers in the restaurant industry.  For someone used to selling alcohol or cigarettes, selling recreational marijuana as a cashier or “budtender” isn’t much different.  For those who transfer to the cannabis industry from restaurants or retail, many find a more supportive and welcoming workplace than the one they left behind. 

Jobs that require more specific knowledge include extraction technicians. Because these techs maintain a laboratory environment, they are expected to have some type of scientific background.  Dispensary managers are often recruited from high end retailers or pharmacology, depending on whether they’re selling recreationally or for medical purposes.  An edibles chef is expected to know how to cook regular baked goods, candies, or beverages before creating marijuana-laced food products.  Quality control experts must understand biology, agronomy, chemistry, or entomology on top of ensuring compliance with health, safety, and potency standards.  Master extractors face similar qualification barriers.

Beyond jobs that deal with marijuana directly, there is a need for support services in the industry.  Marketers, human resource specialists, legal experts, accountants, and so on are present in all businesses once they reach a certain size.  The cannabis industry is highly regulated in the states where it’s allowed to exist.  Said regulations require specialized knowledge for nearly every aspect of operations.  Certain states require marijuana worker licenses.  Professionals who want a job in the cannabis industry need to show they understand the history, social impact, and medical benefits of marijuana.  One should present themselves as professional, not an enthusiast.

Few industries are expanding as rapidly as the cannabis market.  Potential job opportunities get posted to specialized job boards such as 420 Careers and Ganjapreneur.  Get in on the action early; secure a marijuana job and watch salaries grow with the industry.

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