Marijuana Dispensary Salaries: Cashing in on Cannabis

Marijuana Dispensary Salaries

As the American job market embraces cannabis legalization, cannabis dispensaries are quickly becoming a significant hub where eager job candidates with varying levels of experience in the cannabusiness can find fulfilling work. Marijuana dispensary salaries reflect entry-level positions, as well as supervisory and ownership roles that suggest larger compensation opportunities.

Marijuana dispensaries are split into medical and recreational stores that provide cannabis products to patients and customers.

Buying legal weed is not unlike selecting merchandise from other retail locations, save for the mandatory identification process that occurs for each customer upon entering the store. Other than that, dispensaries are relaxed, yet professional venues for easily accessing cannabis flower, edibles, concentrates and more.

Cannabis Dispensary Owner

Starting at the top, dispensary owners are the fearless leaders of legal pot distribution at the forefront of normalizing cannabis consumption as recreationally valid and medically beneficial.

Dispensary Owner Job Description

Pinpointing the exact job description for dispensary owners is somewhat of an impossible task: at the end of the day, owners are ultimately the individual most responsible for a shop’s success or failure. Once a dispensary has been established with regard to federal, state and municipal compliance and is running smoothly, owners can take on a number of different hands-on roles in their business.

Some dispensary owners work directly in stores as budtenders and managers, while others make appearances after daily operations have finished; others still choose to come by periodically to ensure operations are business as usual. Since the nature of setting up and running a dispensary is an all or nothing pursuit, owners are often tied up managing the business’ finances, partnerships and other obligations and paperwork in addition to overseeing shop operations.

Dispensary Owner Salary

Marijuana dispensary salaries for shop owners will likely be the most impressive out of the entire staff. However, owners risk losing money and becoming steeped in business loans, all the while at the whim of state and municipal regulations. Owners also have to be aware of customer retention. Hard and fast data for marijuana dispensary salaries are hard to come by, but owners can make upwards of six figure salaries or more. This can of course fluctuate higher and lower depending on variables like location, yearly revenue and staffing needs.

Dispensary Owner Perks

Owning a legal cannabis dispensary is a success in and of itself—states and counties only allow for a certain number of licenses to dispensaries, cultivators and processors, making competition between business owners fierce. Most states have adopted a lottery system to make some sense of the large pool of interested entrepreneurs climbing hand over foot to begin their cannabusiness ventures.

Dispensary ownership awards major clout to business owners and positions them on the front lines of cannabis culture. In addition to the possibility of making good money, dispensary owners are prized members of their community as they offer in-demand products to dedicated consumers who previously would have been unable to access them in their community.

Dispensary Owner Drawbacks

For successful businesses, owning a dispensary can be a dream come true. There are instances, however, of dispensaries failing to operate with compliance that are ultimately fined or shut down. Dispensary owners take on the highest level of accountability in their business and have to answer for any instances of regulatory failure.

Additionally, dispensary owners have to constantly be on the lookout for internal and external theft and must constantly be hiring and rehiring staff based on the relatively high turnover rate for service industry jobs of this type. All in all, dispensary ownership is a stressful job. With that said, this position is perfect for truly passionate and inspiring cannabis lovers looking to make their mark on the present and future of the cannabusiness.

Dispensary Manager

Below the owner on the dispensary totem is the dispensary manager. Managers are held responsible for overseeing and leading daily operations, as well as scheduling and hiring employees.

Dispensary Manager Job Description

Depending on the setup of individual dispensaries, managers are assigned different tasks to facilitate a natural workplace ebb and flow. Managers will likely work on the floor with other staff, moving back and forth between supervisory and direct sales responsibilities.

Managers are expected to be organized in keeping the store room stocked with products on a consistent basis. This often means working directly with farms, processing centers and sales representatives in order to stock the display with an attractive array of products.

Additionally, managers will perform administrative duties such as inventory, scheduling and hiring.

Since dispensaries often employ managers to perform several roles, especially in smaller operations, managers will perform direct customer service duties as budtenders or receptionists.

Dispensary Manager Salaries

Since dispensary managers are expected to have some form of experience in management and cannabis, marijuana dispensary salaries for managers can reach high five figure salaries into the low six figures, depending on the level of responsibility involved. In the event that a dispensary employs several managers, employees may be compensated differently based on their delegated tasks.

Dispensary Manager Perks

Marijuana dispensary manager jobs are great way to assert ones proficiency in running a legal cannabis operation. This job is a major boost to an individual’s credibility and can possibly lead to advanced positions in the industry, including leading a grow operation or owning a dispensary of their own.

Dispensary Manager Drawbacks

Accepting a job as a dispensary manager means taking on personal accountability and responsibility, as well as the responsibilities of their subordinates. Despite being members of the cannabis industry, these employees do not have a relaxed job; rather, they must be constantly alert to their surroundings, making sure that the questions and concerns of their staff and customers have been adequately satisfied. They must also be vigilant about keeping compliance. In cases where the dispensary owner is not around, managers take the brunt of failing to follow regulations.


Budtenders are the key service members most responsible for direct sales between dispensaries to medical patients and recreational customers.

Budtender Job Description

Budtenders are primarily charged with helping customers find solutions to their cannabis needs. More than likely, dispensaries will often offer a diverse assortment of different products that require explanation from the budtender. This is why budtenders are expected to know everything there is to know about different cannabis strains and other products and paraphernalia. With all the new products coming out, even the most experienced stoner might find themselves perplexed by the bounty in front of them.

In addition to suggesting products, budtenders must also follow customers through point of sale transactions and distribute any formal literature or labels. Non-service related budtending tasks include rolling or filling joints, weighing flower, cleaning and restocking displays and other basic maintenance tasks.

Further Reading:

Budtender Salaries

Unlike the aforementioned jobs, marijuana dispensary salaries for budtenders are significantly lower on the spectrum. This is mostly because they don’t have the same leadership or supervisory responsibilities. Average hourly pay for budtenders is around eleven to twelve dollar, plus tips.

Budtender Perks

The perks of being a budtender are many for the passionate pothead. Being a budtender initiates employees into a strong community of cannabis aficionados. Being part of this group not only builds professional relationships, but personal friendships as well. Another upside to budtending is the discounted weed! Budtenders are usually given some kind of hefty discount of cannabis products.

Budtender drawbacks

The primary drawback of working as a budtender is the pay. While not especially low considering compensation for similar jobs in different industries, budtenders often struggle to pay their bills unless they are employed full time. Another downside to working as a budtender is that employees must stand for long periods and interact with customers all day. Budtending is definitely one of the best marijuana jobs for extroverts who are confident in their customer service abilities.

Budtenders are the face of the cannabusiness, so there is no room for rudeness or condescension from the employee to the customer.


Dispensary Receptionists are the administrative employees who help organize dispensary operations. Receptionists are key members in ensuring compliance as they check the IDs of every incoming customer, new and old. This is in order to ep track of each customer’s transaction history and alert employees of any suspicious or criminal activity.

Receptionist Job Description

Receptionists are exceptional organizers as they are constantly performing data entry tasks and updating databases. The information that receptionists keep record of are essential to keep compliance, so receptionists must be familiar with the cannabis laws in their state and city of operation.

Receptionist Salary

Marijuana dispensary receptionist jobs maintain similar marijuana dispensary salaries to budtenders. In fact, receptionists and budtenders frequently perform double duty. Especially in smaller dispensaries that don’t feel the need to hire multiple employees for these two jobs, one employee will check customers in, as well as help them find products.

Receptionist Perks

A major perk of working as a dispensary receptionist is the opportunity it awards entry level employees to gain cannabusiness experience. Reception is one of the few jobs throughout the industry that doesn’t require hands-on experience with cannabis. With that said, receptionists must still be passionate about cannabis and be up to date on all relevant cannabis legislation.

Receptionist drawbacks

The same thing that makes reception appealing is also the job’s main drawback. While this position is a great springboard for starting an individual’s career, working solely as a receptionist doesn’t allow for much direct interaction with weed on a daily basis.

Security Guard

While you won’t find a security guard at every dispensary, some shops choose to employ for this position in an effort to reduce the rate of internal and external theft.

Security Guard Job Description

Security guards are positioned at dispensary entrances and occasionally around the store as well. The main duty guards have is to check IDs. The point of a security guard is not to make customers uncomfortable. Rather, they are there only to facilitate operations and intimidate individuals looking to actively commit crimes. At times, security guards will deescalate confrontations between customers and employees.

Security Guard Salaries

Security guard pay ranges depending on experience, but marijuana dispensary salaries of this sort average around $12. That is, unless the guards carry firearms, in which case different rules and regulations apply.

Security Guard Perks

Working as a dispensary security guard is another excellent avenue for making connections and building cannabusiness experience. Some security guards and transporters are military veterans with an appreciation for cannabis and experience using firearms and operating under strict compliance measures.

Security Guard Drawbacks

Working as a dispensary security guard automatically increases the employee’s potential for encountering danger. While there is some risk associated, dispensary security staff infrequently encounter truly dangerous situations. Unfortunately, a security guard in Boulder, Colorado was fatally shot while working at a cannabis dispensary by a perpetrator looking to steal cash and cannabis.

The threat against security guards would be diminished if the federal government becomes more lenient toward banks interested in forming cannabusiness partnerships. At present, the vast majority of banks will still not let dispensaries open checking accounts in fear of government crackdown.

The Future of Marijuana Dispensary Salaries

As more states pass legalization measures, an influx of cannabis dispensaries are scheduled to appear across the country. Even in states already containing high concentrations of dispensaries are likely to add dozens, if not hundreds of dispensaries statewide. This increase in jobs and marijuana dispensary salaries has the potential to launch the careers of new hopefuls and experienced members alike.

Until comprehensive legislation is passed on a federal level, the standard by which marijuana dispensary salaries are decided upon will be up for consideration. The industry will reflect the boom and bust of other consumer-driven industries like coffee shops and will likely fluctuate correlatively. One thing is for sure, as long as there are cannabis dispensaries, there will be interested job candidates looking to rack up major marijuana dispensary salaries.

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