Cannabusiness: Weed Workers Get Connected in Colorado


Welcome to the party, Pueblo, Colorado. The city now has its first job-placement service that focuses exclusively on cannabusiness. Apparently it was sorely needed, because when Grasshopper Staffing Incorporated launched last month with a job fair, they were mobbed by about 300 attendees.

“We had trimmers, budtenders, and even a few scientists – chemists – looking to get into the infusion side of things,” says Melanie Osterman, co-founder of Grasshopper. The new weed-job placement service was founded by three sisters plus a friend who had worked previously as a compliance officer in a local dispensary. Their example might presage a welcome trend in the burgeoning weed industry: the leadership of women ganjapreneurs.

Most of the job seekers haled from from Pueblo County, which, unlike many other parts of Colorado, allows outdoor grows. This is good news for a town that’s been bleeding blue collar jobs for decades.

The job fair drew many applicants even though Grasshopper had deployed only Craigslist and Facebook postings to get the word out. It didn’t hurt that they got advance coverage, unsolicited, from The Pueblo Chieftain and KOAA-TV News.

Although most of the available gigs in and around Pueblo are for trimmers, and are therefore temp positions, the fair drew an older-than-expected group. “The average age was around 45 to 50 years old, many with college degrees,” says Osterman. “They'd been downsized because of their age, or they were just sick of corporate.”

Nor were all very weed experienced. “They had a lot of basic questions,” says Osterman. “Many of them did not know what kind of jobs were available or even what they were. They’d ask, ‘What's a budtender?’ ‘What's a trimmer?'”

The applicants were soon schooled on such elementary matters. About ten percent of the attendants were already carrying Colorado’s medical license, or badge, and will be among the first to be placed in jobs. Grasshopper will help guide the others through the certification process.

To get the badge in Colorado you need to be at least 21 and a Colorado resident with no felonies in your past. The FBI does a background check, and Grasshopper does another check of their own. "We want our clients to trust the employees – and us," says Osterman.

Besides taking would-be employees through the licensing process, Grasshopper will also handle the payroll services for employers. This role is rather important, since most cannabusinesses are still cash-only entities. Grasshopper can pay new employees by check or via direct deposit.

Grasshopper is among the many new weed businesses in Colorado launched and led by women. Opportunity abounds in an industry predicted to add another 200,000 jobs nationwide this year, but it isn’t always easy to get your foot in the door, whatever your gender. Smart go-betweens like the women of Pueblo are showing workers the way.

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