7 Tips on How to Get into the Marijuana Industry
Some jobs are growing in numbers. Other job fields deal with growing product. The marijuana industry qualifies for both categories! Many people ask how to get into the marijuana industry. As more and more states legalize either recreational or medical marijuana, it becomes easier for cannabis enthusiasts to think about ditching their conventional office job and start researching the steps to get into the marijuana industry.
It can be rewarding both financially and emotionally, but working at a dispensary isn’t as simple as filling out a job application and going on a couple of interviews.
Here are 7 tips on how to get a job in the cannabis industry.
- Understand the Terminology
As of summer 2018, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and the District of Columbia, and medical marijuana is legal in 30 states.
Anyone looking for a job in the cannabis industry and wants to know how to get into the marijuana industry needs to understand some key differences between recreational and medical marijuana.
The most obvious difference is that medical marijuana patients require a Doctor’s recommendation to use cannabis products to treat a state-approved medical like cancer, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease, HIV/AIDS, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
On the recreation side, individuals are allowed to decide, for themselves, if they choose to use cannabis as medicine or not. There is no doctor’s note needed for recreational marijuana, but potential buyers must be over 21.
By design, medical marijuana is harder to get than recreational marijuana. The taxes and regulations for medical marijuana aren’t the same as they for the recreational stuff, which means the prices can differ as well. However, regardless of whether the products are sold under a medicinal title or not, they still serve the same medicinal purposes. The products are not created differently, they still help the recreational user, who is often self-medicating.
- Have a Clean Record
People who want to know how to get a job at a dispensary and want to know how to get into the marijuana industry, should be aware that a criminal record will make that much harder.
Applicants will be subjected to background checks. Felony convictions are more likely to disqualify someone over a candidate with a misdemeanor, but it depends on the exact nature of the crime. However, while there are exceptions, most states to not allow those with any felonies to work in licensed cannabis facilities.
While some states are currently working to help felons expunge their past cannabis felonies, There are a few states where a past conviction for marijuana possession could be enough to get a candidate disqualified from working in the legal cannabis industry.
Washington State will even perform a background check on spouses of cannabis industry employees. It doesn’t matter if the spouse has a financial involvement; just being married is enough.
States that regulate legal marijuana want to know that the people who work with the product have solid morals.
Why are they so concerned? As it turns out, the legal marijuana industry still occupies a strange gray area.
- Be Prepared for (Some) Uncertainty
The federal government still classifies marijuana as an illegal drug. Knowing that, is key to understanding why there’s still a fair amount of uncertainty in the cannabis industry.
Federally speaking, marijuana is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, which means it’s believed to have no redeeming medical value and a “high potential for abuse” and addiction. It’s in the same category as heroin.
Congress could make a new law that changes the way the federal government classifies marijuana, but that hasn’t happened yet, which means a lot depends on who controls the federal government.
President Obama’s administration mostly looked the other way when it came to states with legal marijuana, but current Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made it clear he’s not a fan.
Congress has passed a law that prohibits that Department of Justice from interfering with state-run medical marijuana programs, but it needs to be renewed in Fall 2018.
That doesn’t mean that the feds are going to start raiding recreational marijuana dispensaries anytime soon. At this point, that seems quite unlikely.
It does, however, underscore the importance of finding a job at a dispensary that abides by all state and local laws.
- Be Ready to Move
The West Coast is considered by many to be the best coast when it comes to finding a job in the marijuana industry. Many think the West Coast is the best chance on how to get into the marijuana industry, but that’s a subjective point of view.
Currently, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Alaska have all legalized both medicinal and recreational cannabis. However, many of the east coast states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Florida, New York New Jersey, DC and all of New England have a medical and/or recreational program as well. In fact, Massachusetts’ recreational program has just recently launched as well.
Many states have a resident-only regulation which means candidates must be a state resident before they can earn a badge to work. In other states, like CO, where employees purchase their own badge prior to having a job, getting a position may be difficult without any experience. A recent study showed over 1/2 of people with a Workers Badge in Colorado do not work for a licensed cannabis facility.
The marijuana job market is competitive everywhere, so while Western Cities may have a healthy supply of job openings, new markets have a big rush of entry-level job openings when the program’s initially launch, sometime hiring thousands of employees in the first year. To attract employees with several years of legal cannabis experience, states east of the Mississippi tend to pay a higher salary, sometimes 20-30% more. As these programs continue to expand, the need for employees increases as well.
- Research Salaries
Like any other industry, there’s a wide range of salaries to be found in the cannabis business.
Those who want to know how to get a job in the marijuana industry should first figure out what kind of money they’re looking to bring home.
Inside a dispensary, a receptionist can take home as little as $20,000, while a general manager could make four times that amount.
Outside a dispensary, there are jobs in cultivation and production that can bring in as much as six figures with the right LEGAL, cannabis employment experiences.
- Find the Right Fit
Look at more than just money when deciding what kind of marijuana job to pursue. Consider things like personality as well. Some people are suited to work in management. Others can do better work behind the scenes.
Remember that more money generally means more responsibility. There are exceptions, but most people breaking into the business will have to start near the bottom of the ladder and work their way up. However, promotions in the cannabis industry are happening very quickly currently as the industry grows.
- Remember It’s a Job
Finally, it’s important to realize that a job working in a dispensary or production plant is still a job that requires workers to do things like clock in and pay taxes.
There’s more to the marijuana industry than just enthusiasm for cannabis. That certainly helps, but not everyone who likes consuming marijuana is cut out to work in the industry.
Expecting otherwise is like expecting someone who likes eating Italian food to also be a master Italian chef.
Find Out More on How to Get into the Marijuana Industry
If you’ve looked at the basics of how to get into the marijuana industry and want to learn more, we can help with that.
We provide industry info, training, and more. We don’t post job listings online, but we can connect candidates to recruiters looking to fill positions in the cannabis industry.
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