How to Pursue a Career in the Cannabis Industry

How to Pursue a Career in the Cannabis Industry

By 2027, the global marijuana industry could be generating $57 billion in annual revenues, according to leading cannabis analytics firm ArcView Market Research.

That means that between now and then, the legal cannabis industry will be undergoing incredibly fast-paced growth. New job and long-term career opportunities will be sprouting up everywhere you look.

As little as five years ago, some of the top positions in the mostly unregulated cannabis industry were held by people whose professional résumé consisted of how large of a dab they could take, or how much heady glass they owned.

But today, job titles ranging from the mundane, like ‘accountant’, to the colorful, like ‘budtender’, will need to be filled in higher numbers than ever before as more states and countries begin to experiment with looser medical and recreational cannabis laws.

Here in the U.S., 30 states plus D.C. have implemented some form of state-regulated medical marijuana program, and 9 have taken it a step further and legalized the recreational use of cannabis for adults.

With this legalization has come some heavy regulation as well as states see just how lucrative legal weed can be and they do not want to lose any of it to the tax-dodging grey and black markets.

This regulation comes in many forms, almost all of them costly to the people trying to get on the right side of the new cannabis laws. Licensing and compliance is a major expense for investors and companies trying to get into the legal market. Cannabis is already considered a higher risk business than most, so these wealthy investors certainly do not want to do anything that adds to that risk as they chase the rewards.

What this means is that recruiters and employers in the booming legal cannabis industry will be under immense pressure to fill tens of thousands of new jobs, but they will be looking to do so with highly qualified individuals, not individuals who think that getting high makes them qualified.

Boasting about how many eighths you moved out of your college dorm room (or how many pounds you pulled out of your garage grow tent) might have worked in the old days, but today, it could hurt your chances.

According to a piece in the Orlando Sentinel, only about 10% of applicants hoping to enter Florida’s new MMJ program are “employable”.

Yikes. So if you can show up on time, without looking too stoned, you may be ahead of 90% of the job-seeking competition.

Most states, like Florida, have stipulations built into their cannabis laws that require employers to perform thorough background checks on anyone they want to hire. In many cases, those with a felony on their record need not even apply, as the new laws will not allow them into the industry.

This doesn’t seem fair, but it’s the current reality.

Still, ZipRecruiter reports that the total number of cannabis industry jobs posted to their site increased by 18% between 2015 and 2016. The next year it jumped a staggering 448% and it’s only going higher!

So what can you do to separate yourself from the pack and show how eager and knowledgeable you are on the subject, without coming across as the stereotypical “stoner”?

Here are a few tips:

  • Read as much as you can about the industry. Sign up for free newsletters and check in regularly to trusted and reliable industry related blogs and websites
  • You can search for recommended reading lists and curriculums of colleges and universities that offer cannabis-related classes and certifications
  • Attend cannabis industry conferences and trade shows and talk to as many people as possible to build your network
  • Be honest on your employment application – the new legal industry will be just as demanding on results as any mainstream market so don’t list it if you can’t do it
  • …but don’t be too honest – as mentioned above, your prowess in the pre-legal cannabis market is almost never seen as a strength in today’s cannabis industry
  • Remember that an interview is a 2-way street so be sure that you ask them some questions as well to show your interest and creativity. It is a brand new industry, you should be curious
  • Be proud of your employment history even outside of the cannabis market. Passion for a job transcends industries and all work experience can be relative

Finally, it is important that you know that today’s cannabis industry is just that: an industry. Large corporations are making big moves into the marijuana market as we speak and although that creates the opportunities we are discussing here, the whole thing is starting to feel a lot less like a rebellious movement, and more like a cooler-than-average 9to5 job.

Still, there are definitely many fulfilling and lucrative positions for people with honest intentions and a solid work ethic. Good luck!

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