Part-Time Cannabusiness Workers Create Challenges for CEOs

Legal marijuana is seeing job growth in areas tied to retail sales, distribution and back office operations, according to marijuana jobs listing website WeedHire’s 2014 4th Quarter Cannabis Jobs Report. “We’re seeing a request for skills in the areas of basic IT functions, programmers, IT networker to launch offices, IT support to maintain point of sale systems and RFID tracking system specialists,” said David Bernstein, CEO of WeedHire.

WeedHire’s Jobs Report found that dispensary jobs experienced 90 percent growth during the last three months of 2014, compared to 70 percent for medical, 65 percent for administrative and 56 percent for sales positions. “The numbers indicate that there’s a demand and if the supply can meet the demand, a full fledged multibillion dollar industry will emerge,” Bernstein said.

WeedHire operates like in posting job openings, reporting 5500 registered job seekers on the site for some 1100 marijuana-related positions. But because turnover is excessive in the industry, owners must constantly train new hires.

“It’s good for the Responsible Vendor Trainer but not necessarily the owners or industry because the business owner pays for its badged employees to undergo the training in Colorado,” said Steve Owens, founder and CEO of Adherence Colorado, a new firm that conducts third-party compliance audits for marijuana dispensaries and grows. Responsible Vendor Training iComply is a registered compliance vendor with the Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) for the State of Colorado.

“Dispensary and grow licensees are in a continual hiring phase to find and promote the best resources,” Owens told High Times. “Given that most entry-level opportunities in the market are part-time, it exacerbates the situation.”

Some 17.5 million Americans live in states that have authorized retail marijuana, and 148 million live in pro-medical marijuana states.

Roughly 50 percent or more of overall staff for marijuana businesses are part-time, according to Adherence Colorado data, with more than 19,000 badged employees in Colorado working in the marijuana industry. Of these, more than half are considered part-time employees, with the most common job functions being budtenders, trimmers, back office or general laborers.

“Due to part-timers often seeking more hours, full-time opportunities, or better wages, owners are unable to retain these workers over any significant period of time,” Owens said. “Part-timers are transient in nature, thereby creating a constant challenge in staffing a smooth-running business.”

WeedHire further found that cannabis staffing agencies are seeing an average of 200 job applicants for every one job on file. “Consulting and compliance is where the jobs are because at their core, these are retail businesses that require an active license to operate,” said Owens. “The two main areas of focus that are imperative are regulatory compliance and revenue assurance. Marijuana firms must be compliant and protect their revenue.”

Jobs are also being created by state governments looking to fill regulatory positions, including senior-level positions with the Minnesota Department of Health, where annual pay for the positions ranges from $60,000 to $105,000. “State governments need to make sure they are equipped to handle what many project to be an explosive growth industry, potentially reaching as much as $10 billion by 2019,” said Bernstein.

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