With recreational marijuana becoming increasingly legal in states throughout the U.S., a newfound fervor surrounding marijuana jobs is echoing countrywide, alongside an ever evolving marijuana “culture” that is changing the face of the green plant in a young, politically active, economically conscious way. Alongside this, the medical benefits of cannabis that have long since been present, but hotly disputed, have resurfaced with a mission for good, winning over patients young and old as an effective supplementary treatment.
As the stigma surrounding marijuana jobs continues to disintegrate, more and more individuals are looking to be a part of the industry, to start their own business, contribute to a farm or dispensary just to name a few options. But for as many people as there are interested in the field, just as many are wondering: HOW?
So, what marijuana jobs are out there? Where is it legal? What is legal to sell? Am I qualified; Who do I have to know? Before answering all of these questions head on, it helps to have some background on marijuana jobs as well as cannabis itself.
Recreational and Medical Cannabis Careers
Like any booming business, the marijuana industry has far reaching job opportunities outside of the typically associated jobs like growing and trimming; however, the farm is a great place to start when researching marijuana jobs.
Cultivation and Trimming
- The growth and maintenance of large scale cannabis farms is not for the novice gardener or the apathetic. Marijuana farming has become an economically beneficial, competitive practice that relies on experienced growers, often with scientific backgrounds in horticulture, or with years of learned experience in the field.
- This field can be a competitive one, as it offers possibly the highest individual payout, especially after years of experience. This job is not a customer service position, however it involves interacting with other growers and trimmers, alike. Like any good farmer, growers must have in-depth knowledge of germination, cloning, and transportation, and must be familiar with signs of parasites or disease.
- Ultimately, the grower must also be familiar with trimming marijuana and harvesting the marijuana flowers. Being a grower requires a lot of time standing on one’s feet. The hours can be long, sometimes twelve hours a day or more, but the payoff is invaluable. Having a well grown marijuana crop that’s been properly harvested, has tightly trimmed buds and is dried and cured correctly helps to separate the best farms and growers from one another, generating interest from both medical marijuana clinics and recreational marijuana dispensaries.
- What is a budtender? Think of budtending like you’d think of bartending. As more cannabis products become available, the diversity of options for consumers skyrockets, encouraging people to seek out the best bud for the lowest price. This is where the budtender comes in: Most budtenders are friendly, engaging customer servers and major cannabis enthusiasts.
- They treat cannabis like a sommelier would treat fine wine, and are rewarded for their work. While budtending jobs do not offer quite the same financial intrigue as growing, the best budtenders are capable of convincing novices and seasoned stoners alike of the best and most affordable options for flower, edibles, concentrates, paraphernalia and more.
- Budtenders are responsible for keeping their shop clean, rolling joints, updating in-store and online menus and perhaps, updating the dispensary’s personal social media accounts. Most budtending positions include a sliding scale of tips, and often the hourly wage for entry-level marijuana jobs in budtending begins slightly above the average minimum wage, with opportunities for growth once the budtender has demonstrated their interest in the product, effective customer service skills and exact cash handling ability. Being a budtender is being the face of the product. Like any customer service position, it pays to be patient, informative and understanding, avoiding condescension.
- Marijuana dispensary receptionist jobs are part and parcel with budtending jobs, as the receptionist is the first (and hopefully friendly) face you see upon entering a dispensary. As far as marijuana careers go, this is often regarded as the most entry-level job, a precursor to moving into more specialized marijuana jobs and responsibilities. All that said, receptionists have an important job maintaining all the basic responsibilities of any other job of its kind: answering phones and handling customer and business inquiries, along with maintenance of the store and assisting the managers and owners with daily operations.
Dispensary Ownership and Management
- Owning a medical and/or recreational marijuana dispensary comes with all the difficulties and successes of owning any other kind of business, except, due to stringent laws and oversight, owning a dispensary also requires being very careful and compliant with the standards set out by each individual state. For instance, in Oregon, Recreational dispensaries are regulated by the OLCC, which maintains authority of all operations, including how much each dispensary is allowed to sell and what maximum percentage of THC can be available per product. Being an effective owner involves having a background in successful business ventures, creating positive relationships with farmers, dispensary managers and budtenders/receptionists, not to mention customers. Dispensary managers are responsible for ensuring accurate transactions, training and leading subordinates with their daily tasks and much more.
Medical Marijuana Jobs
- When it comes to medical marijuana jobs, it is of utmost importance that the caregiver or budtender is passionate about helping patients receive the best treatment possible. Reserchers, nurses and other medical professionals work relentlessly everyday to discover more breakthroughs of how to best use cannabis to treat a variety of ailments including chronic pain, seizures, eating disorders and more.
Alternative Marijuana Jobs
It would take up a lot of space in order to list every single job associated with the marijuana industry, but cannabis careers are varied, growing and permeating mainstream culture, thanks to a growing marijuana culture that is informed by entertainment, history and more. To give you a better idea of some alternative marijuana jobs, just spend some time on one of the many marijuana blogs and videos out there and you will find amateur and professional marijuana reviewers and journalists, who use their in-depth knowledge of strains and products to provide a well rounded analysis of each product.
- It’s no secret that the rules and regulations associated with legal cannabis are presented in a manner that is downright confusing. Such confusion has led to a demand for marijuana consulting jobs.
- Marijuana reviewers and strain critics encourage competition between farms and dispensaries as consumers (especially in states where recreational cannabis is legal) become increasingly particular about what strains and products they prefer, for the most affordable price.
- As more marijuana businesses become established, the demand for marijuana marketing jobs has become increasingly evident. Marketing positions run the gamut too from SEO and SEM positions for websites to more traditional marketing. As the cannabis industry continues to prosper, more and more demand for experienced marijuana marketers will exist. This is an exciting field!
- Medical marijuana delivery jobs are a provided and necessary service to deliver crucial dispensary products to medical marijuana patients, without them having to visit the store themselves. In addition to standard medical marijuana delivery jobs where you will specifically be transporting medical marijuana to patients, marijuana delivery positions also exist in other capacities for there is also for example a need to transport marijuana from say farm to dispensary, etc.
- Paraphernalia artists are integral to the success of the cannabis industry, offering up beautiful, functional and sometimes groundbreaking designs that are bought and coveted by their consumers.To give you more of an idea about the limitless possibilities of working in the marijuana and cannabis industry, here is a list of some current job positions that appear upon a quick Google search: Bud Videographer and Photographer, Social Media Manager, Marijuana Modeling, Marijuana Apparel Makers and so many others! While it may not be an easy task to find an immediate position in cannabis at a farm or dispensary, if you have the passion and desire to “make it” in marijuana, there are limitless possibilities to use your specific skillset to find your place in the cannabis industry.
- Marijuana tourism jobs are quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with as tourism intertwines cannabis culture and vacation, in hopes of mutually benefiting the marijuana industry and other associated industries.
Why a Career in Cannabis?
With such an incredible interest toward careers in medical and recreational marijuana, it pays to ask the question: Why cannabis? Why now? Of course, these queries come with an infinite number of reasons, explanations and back stories depending on the individual involved, yet there are some very apparent benefits that will only continue to help this already fecund business, explode.
- If you go to a marijuana dispensary and ask the budtenders to tell you why they chose to pursue their position, odds are you will hear them talk about their passion for the plant, but also their desire to be a part of the cannabis community. Marijuana has deep roots in interpersonal connection, as well as counterculture and the arts. Marijuana is the plant for peace and prosperity. The cannabis community tends to bring together a group of compassionate, worldly, creative individuals who work excellently with one another.
- Though there is no guarantee that working a cannabis industry job will help you strike gold, there are significant financial opportunities, especially with positions in growing and dispensary ownership. Like any other industry, success is a result of how much effort you put in. Growing is a grueling job, but the payoff can be huge. Notwithstanding, the personal achievement of cultivating a successful crop is the icing on the cake. Growers get out what they put in, so there is infinite possibility for improvement. Dispensary owners on the other hand are tasked with marketing and maintaining a successful business without succumbing to the pressures of mass competition. The marijuana industry appears only subject to growth in the years to come, so it becomes ever more important for dispensary owners to have a keen business savvy and a true passion for their product, in order to separate themselves from the pack.
- It’s no secret that one of the biggest perks of having a career in cannabis is being able to use the products! Many dispensaries offer a healthy employee discount, while farms are abundant with the product and require product testing. This is why it’s no surprise that in places where medical and recreational cannabis are legal, the competition for jobs can be very stiff. Like being a good bartender, barista or server, budtenders and other positions require the most skilled, efficient and friendly employees.
Get to Know Your Product: What is Sold in Dispensaries?
At this point, you probably already know that marijuana dispensaries have a lot more to offer than just flower or “bud.” When walking into an established, busy dispensary, you might expect to find a veritable smorgasbord of cannabis infused products and paraphernalia right before your eyes! Here’s a quick overview of some of the products available to customers where recreational marijuana is legal:
- Take one glance at a dispensary menu and you’ll find yourself overwhelmed with joy by the options offered to suit your specific needs. Not only are most buds organized into categories of sativa, indica or “hybrid” in order to give customers an accurate reading of what kind of high they might experience, menus also include levels of THC, CBD and may even add aromas, tastes, and whether or not the flower was organically grown. In order to give a more detailed summary of what can be offered, here is a sketch of some of the key terms used above:
- CBD or Cannabidiol is non-psychoactive and often used to treat patients for medical uses, as there is no evident high when THC is absent. CBD has been studied to have anti-anxiety properties and is very promising when used as treatment for young children. THC or tetrahydrocannabinol is the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that produces a “high.” It is also most commonly used for medical patients who have trouble sleeping.
- Many strains of flower have varying levels of both THC and CBD, however, there are options all across the board for different ratios of one to the other. For patients who experience high levels of anxiety when smoking a strain with heavy amounts of THC, a budtender may advise you to choose a strain either with a lower THC level or higher CBD level. “Overdosing” on THC is not uncommon or life threatening, but it may come with irritating or uncomfortable symptoms such as a racing heart or sweaty palms.
- An important distinction every hopeful in the marijuana industry should know is the difference between Sativa and Indica strains of cannabis. While there are a variety of differences between the two from seed, most consumers are interested in knowing the differences in the high experienced.
- Sativas often produce stimulating head highs–these invigorating feelings spur creativity and are popular with active cannabis users who don’t want to spend their whole day on the couch. For this reason, sativas are often recommended for daytime use. Indicas, on the other hand produce a powerful body high and are wonderful for the treatment of pain, depression and nausea; however, they fail to produce the same energetic response as sativas. Hybrids of sativas and indicas are immensely popular with consumers, as they provide a balanced high that allows for a relaxed and/or energetic high.
- Edible cannabis products are popular among marijuana users who prefer not to smoke, or for medical patients who require a stronger, more sustained high. Due to a surge in popularity of edible cannabis products, there are an infinite number of food and drinks to ingest that contain THC or CBD. Demand for marijuana edibles that meet high standards required for production is fueling the growth of marijuana edibles jobs.
- High THC concentrated products, such as oils, waxes, hash, budder, shatters and more very in taste, texture and color and can be consumed in varying ways. Also referred to as “dabbing,” these concentrates are for smokers who are open to experiencing an intense and unique high.
- Like other topical products, these are applied to your skin for a variety of ailments ranging from scar minimizing to eczema.
- Most dispensaries will capitalize off earnings from glassware, rolling papers and other paraphernalia, along with apparel and novelty items as well. This is a good way for businesses to cross promote and earn, while creating relationships with other industry professionals and craftspeople.
The Future of Marijuana Jobs
Entire volumes can and have been written of the subject of marijuana jobs, and this will only continue as the industry grows. The best way to prepare yourself for trying to be a part of this field is to be up to date on your knowledge of the products and laws in each state. Happy Hunting!