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As cannabis legalization becomes more widespread throughout the United States, marijuana connoisseurs and aficionados from all walks of life are eagerly pursuing marijuana employment. While there is certainly a great deal of interest in the cannabusiness, the massive job pool is made up by informed cannabis experts and novices.
In this already billion dollar industry (in Colorado alone) job candidates are applying for cannabis jobs at such an incredible rate that employers literally cannot read review them all. It is not uncommon for budtender jobs to receive over one hundred applications for a local position at a dispensary after being posted for just one day.
With so much exuberance building up the industry as one of the dominating forces of current American culture, a deeper exploration of marijuana employment can demystify a business that’s only just begun to hit its stride.
Marijuana Employment Buzzwords
If you take a look at all the marijuana employment opportunities out there, you may be overwhelmed by the sheer number of possibilities and industry jargon. You’ll hear phrases like “budtender,” “extraction technician” and “compliance.” But what does it all mean in relation to the industry? Below, we’ll delve into the buzzwords and phrases any cannabis industry job applicant should be familiar with.
First thing’s first: it’s important to familiarize yourself with the emerging rhetoric of the legal industry. Cannabis is the genus of the plant we all know and love. Contrary to popular belief, the term “marijuana” has absolutely nothing to do with the scientific classification of the plant. In fact, the term stems from an unfortunate history of racism and nativism by western American settlers in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Originally coined as “marihuana,” which loosely translates to “devil’s weed,” the term was meant as a slur toward Mexican revolutionists who would cross the Mexican-American border with cannabis in their possession. Americans used Mexican cannabis use as justification for the harsh treatment of Mexican civilians, as well as other people of color who could be used to the advantage of white subversion of black culture.
While marijuana is still frequently used as a term, it is making way for cannabis to take over. For the time being, the cannabis community switches back and forth between the two words as a matter of course.
The Basics: Sativa, Indica, THC and CBD
Let’s dive right into some essential jargon that is omnipresent throughout the cannabis industry. One thing you’ll hear a lot if you visit a legal cannabis dispensary or hang out with a group of stoners for more than a half hour, is talk of cannabis strains. The two major strain classifications are known as sativa and indica. Hybrids, which are combinations of the two strains, are very popular in the weed world.
Sativa cannabis strains promote more energized, cerebral effects and help boost creativity. Sativas are popular strains for athletes, hikers, and other individuals looking to be active after a smoke sesh. For this reason, sativas are usually recommended for daytime smoking.
Indicas on the other hand, are known for their ability to put smokers “in-da-couch.” Indicas are popularly used for pain and nausea relief, as well as for anxiety and depression symptoms. Since many recreational smokers are looking for some of the effects of both strains, hybrids are frequently sold in hopes to provide unique effects.
Onto the compounds that make cannabis products so popular. While there are many compounds that make up cannabis, the two you will come across most frequently are THC and CBD. THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is a psychoactive cannabinoid that creates the “high” you feel when you consume cannabis.
THC is responsible for most of the sleep-inducing and pain relieving effects that cannabis provides. Cannabidiol, or CBD is a non-psychoactive compound that helps to relieve anxiety, but doesn’t give smokers the feeling of being high.
Dispensaries are legal pot shops that sell cannabis products to medical marijuana patients and recreational customers. It’s that simple! Unlike purchasing black market bud from someone in your Psychology 201 class in college, dispensaries offer a wide variety of cannabis products from flower and edibles to concentrates, tinctures and topicals. Additionally, dispensaries sell apparel, paraphernalia and non-psychoactive pet treats.
While the process of shopping at a dispensary is pretty straightforward, owning one is a whole other story. Opening a dispensary is an intensive process that incurs many licensing fees and confusing compliance measure. Dispensaries operate either as medical facilities with a man focus on the medical implications of each product, while recreational dispensaries cater to adults looking to use products for their enjoyment.
There’s no better term to follow cannabis dispensary than budtender. Budtenders are the cornerstone of cannabis culture, like a barista to coffee or a bartender to…you get the idea. Budtenders are shrewd, helpful customer servers that are there to provide you with the medical or recreational cannabis you seek.
Budtending is one of the more entry level marijuana careers in the cannabusiness, but it’s a great stepping stone to securing advanced positions in the industry.
A necessary evil of marijuana employment is complying with state and municipal regulations. Cannabis legislation is convoluted and requires continual maintenance by all cannabusiness employees. Due to near constant oversight from the law, workers are forced to follow rules to a T, or risk being fired, sued, or having an entire business shut down.
Concentrate Extraction Technician
As cannabis comes into focus for the conscious mainstream, more careers are making themselves known. Before getting into exactly what a concentrate extraction technician is, let’s define what a concentrate is. Cannabis concentrates are usable medical and recreational products that contain high levels of cannabinoids like THC and CBD and terpenoids like terpenes (which carry scent and aroma).
Concentrates maintain important implications for the medical cannabis community, as their effects are more sustained and require less smoking than using flower. Concentrates are made by extraction technicians who take cannabis plants matter, such as flower and trim, and use solvents like Butane and CO2 to strip all plant matter from the most essential compounds, making a more pure form of cannabis: concentrate.
Concentrates can take many physical forms depending on the extraction process.Often referred to as “dabbing,” smoking concentrate can be done using oils, waxes, butters, shatters and more! Concentrates can also be used to make edibles.’
Concentrate extraction technicians are expert scientists with years of experience in the field and advanced degrees in chemistry and other hard sciences. This job is by no means an entry-level position and in fact, it carries the potential for danger by fire.
When referring to the history of America’s weed industry, you’ll often hear it referred to as the black market or the “underground” industry. Up until the 1990’s, medical cannabis was prohibited in every state across the U.S. Even after California legalized medical marijuana, the road to recreational legalization would be a long one.
The Black Market is somewhat of a misnomer when it comes to the way the industry has been carried out “above” the law. While there have been a number of violent and non-violent crimes that have occurred within the underground industry, it has also operated with efficiency and integrity simultaneously. For this reason, it’s been an arduous process bringing the black market industry into the legal green rush it deserves.
While you may be familiar with the term edibles, the legal marijuana industry is doing more than making brownies and firecrackers in your home kitchen. Like concentrates, edibles have become especially important products for the always developing medical cannabis industry. Perhaps even more than dabbing, edibles help give medical patients the longest effects, even overnight.
Edibles aren’t just boxed cookies and brownies anymore, either. You can find delicious edibles of all sorts from iced coffees to pasta and gummy worms. There is no end in sight for the development of this sector of the industry.
Marijuana edibles chef jobs aren’t just for novice bakers looking to make a quick buck from the cannabis industry, they are for professional chefs with kitchen experience and a taste for the cannabis industry. In addition to baking up tasty treats, edibles chefs are responsible for following government compliance by ensuring the correct concentration of cannabis products in food. State law prohibits high mg amounts of THC, so chefs have to be as precise as possible in their work.
Additionally, chefs are not allowed to taste their products once THC has been infused, so following compliance is essential.
Cannabis trimming is the necessary, albeit mundane, task of preparing flower to be packaged and distributed to dispensaries, then sold to customers. Bud trimming is the process of removing excess plant matter surrounding trichome-rich buds. Trimming helps to give cannabis flower an attractive aesthetic and a great taste. Flower that is not trimmed well (too loosely or tight) may contain too much of a plant-like taste or a harsh smoke.
Marijuana trimming jobs are ultimately pretty straightforward, but require detail oriented individuals who have patience and the ability to sit or stand for extended periods of time. Trimmers can be compensated either by the hour, or by weight. For experienced workers who can keep up with work flow, being payed by weight brings the opportunity for a more significant payout.
Marijuana Employment Opportunities
Finding marijuana employment opportunities may take more than a quick Google search of budtender and cultivation jobs. As the industry expands and forms partnerships with other industries, such as tourism and hospitality, marijuana employment will take on a more vast range of job opportunities.
Just to give an idea of how many different career paths there are in cannabis, there are viable positions in marijuana marketing, graphic design, IT, publishing and cannabis criticism, as well as cannabis extraction, edibles creation, dispensary ownership, weed tour guide, marijuana model, cannabis researchers, marijuana accountants, security guards, and many many more.
While there may be more marijuana employment opportunities popping up, finding a job requires legitimate preparation on behalf of the candidate. Even if you have experience, say, as an accountant for a non-weed business, you must be able to acquire specific expertise with cannabis.
Marijuana Employment Tips
Getting that kush job in the marijuana industry is easier said than done, but there are some sure-fire ways to bolster your application.
#1 Know Your City and State’s Cannabis Law
While this isn’t necessarily the most fun part of the weed industry to research, it is possibly the most important. Every position in the legal cannabis industry requires compliance with laws, so employees must know what those specific laws are in their region.
While cannabis legalization is (mostly) a state regulated entity, most states allow municipalities like cities and counties, to decide for themselves whether they will allow the sale of legal cannabis. This means that even in states where weed is legal, you may not be able to purchase it everywhere.
Even knowing the most basic cannabis laws and sales provisions can automatically ut you ahead of a pack who didn’t put the research in.
#2 Care about Cannabis
While there are individuals who pursue marijuana employment exclusively for a potentially high payout, most cannabis industry employees use and have a passion for the products they are representing. Especially since the industry still has a lot of hoops to jump through, it really helps a business to have workers who are dedicated to fair cannabis practices.
#3 Keep Trying!
This isn’t the first or the last time I will suggest that persistence is THE key to gaining marijuana employment. I personally applied to over fifteen open positions in the industry before landing my first cannabis industry job. Depending on your connections in the industry, experience level and luck, it may take fewer or greater tries to find your first job. The goal is to not get discouraged, to use each interview as an opportunity to grow.
Marijuana Employment: A Hazy Future
The cannabis industry is made up of a whole lot of contradictions. While the business is absolutely booming, bringing home exponential state revenue from taxes, the cannabusiness continues to face hardships. That said, you can’t fight the numbers. As more factions of the United States come together over cannabis, the legal industry will truly break away from the shackles of stigma, and help to move the country in a more progressive direction.
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