Marijuana legalization has created thousands of new jobs. For the first time in American history, an economy based on growing, selling and using legal marijuana exists. In fact, the industry is developing at such a rapid pace that it’s hard to put a number on just how big it is.
In the first two months after legalization, Colorado made $3.4 million in new tax revenues, with initial projections estimating another $184 million over 18 months. As more states legalize cannabis, we could be looking at a $10 billion industry by 2018. “Over 10,000 marijuana-industry jobs have been created in Colorado alone,” says Dan Kingston, founder of 420Careers.com, a cannabis job board that posts five to 10 new job listings a week.
“And thousands more will be created as more states legalize.” Kingston, who resides in the medical-marijuana-friendly state of Arizona, has seen firsthand the exponential growth of pot-related jobs. “Graduates coming right out of school typically can’t find a job in their field of study, so they’re coming in droves to entry-level jobs in medical marijuana,” he notes.
High Times, celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, has been in the business of cannabis from the beginning. Taking advantage of the many relationships we’ve cultivated over the years, we recently sent out our first High Times Cannabusiness Survey to determine the financial temperature of the industry; the results are shared here. And since so many people want to know how to get a job in the cannabis industry, we’ve compiled ideas and advice on ways to get started.
Colorado, California, Washington and Arizona are currently the easiest states to find employment in. And as more states approve medical marijuana or move toward legalization, more opportunities will be created. Here’s our baker’s dozen of top pot jobs:
Someone has to manicure that lovely, sticky weed into the beautiful nugs you purchase at the dispensary, so why not try your hand at it? This entry-level position isn’t glamorous, but it is essential to every large-scale grow operation. Teams of trimmers work their way through pounds of bud and are paid hourly, or by the weight of their finished product. Whether you’re a full-time employee or freelancer, trimming bud is an excellent way to learn the ins and outs of the trade. Sammy Saltzman, who has risen through the ranks of Denver’s dis- pensaries, recommends Hemp Temps, which staffs cannabis companies. “Hemp Temps will schedule you at a warehouse, or you’ll trim for the dispensary they assign you to,” Saltzman says. “If you’re looking for full-time work, you can network at your temp job with the hopes of maybe one day getting hired by a dispensary that likes you and your work ethic.” hemptemps.com
Becoming a marijuana grower is one of the most rewarding — and confusing — paths one can take in the legal marijuana industry. Laws differ from state to state, and in California, from county to county and sometimes even city to city. Under California law, you’re only allowed to grow your allotted amount as a care- giver or as part of a collective. California cannabusiness consultant Liana Held suggests anyone interested in growing, “speak with a lawyer and set up a not- for-profit mutual benefit corporation. You can grow six mature, 12 immature and possess eight dried ounces for each person in your collective. Once they are supplied, you can sell the overage to a dispensary.” As far as dispensaries go, it’s a buyer’s market, and it’s likely you will walk away disappointed at the amount you were paid for your “legal” bud.
Then there’s Washington, which voted to legalize recreational marijuana. There was a brief window to submit license applications to become a producer, packager or retailer in the industry. The state received over 2600 applications, and has thus far approved only 70. There is going to be a great need for experienced cultivators as more are approved. A grower looking for work can go to the Washington State Liquor Control Board website and search public records to see the name, addresses and approval status of each company.
Since medical marijuana businesses are vertically integrated in Colorado, Ryan Cook, general manager of The Clinic, recommends growers who have obtained an occupational license to send their resumes directly to medical and retail marijuana centers to get started. canorml.org; liq.wa.gov; colorado.gov
5. Product Manufacturer
6. Edibles Chef/Cook
12. IT/Computer Programmer
If you know how to set up a growroom, why not help others get started? Maybe you’re really good at managing an office, or marketing a product. Whatever it is that you do like a pro, there may be a cannabis-industry consultant position for you.
Kenny Morrow of Trichome Technologies is a grower with 30 years of experience in large-scale cultivation. We asked him how a consultant might get a foot in the door. “The first thing you need is a background in the field. You need a solid resume, great references and verifiable real-life experience. Then you need to find a client. I suggest you go to cannabis conferences and trade shows, like the various High Times Cannabis Cups, or the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit. Oaksterdam University is a good place to get experience and to network and they have traveling conferences throughout the country. The most important thing is hit the bricks and advertise your services.” cannabiscup.com; thecannabisindustry .org; oaksterdamuniversity.com