Cannabis & Job Creation
A commonly stated benefit of legalizing cannabis is job creation and there has been increased hype about this since the COVID-19 pandemic. Cannabis is one of the few industries that seems to be pandemic proof. Dispensaries were deemed essential businesses and while massive job loss was reported across many sectors of the economy, cannabis sales actually increased and dispensaries were frequently hiring during the pandemic.
Cannabis media company and website, Leafly, published a report earlier this year that states the US cannabis industry now employs more than 320,000 full-time employees. According to the report, cannabis sales rose more than 70% in 2020 and job growth doubled compared to 2019. Certainly, the cannabis industry holds great promise as a means of job creation especially as the economy enters its recovery period following the pandemic. In the coming years, we will start to see the true value of these jobs. Are they positions people want to hold long-term? Do they offer opportunities for advancement? Or are they McJobs*?
Labor unions, such as The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) are working hard to ensure cannabis jobs are not McJobs. Unions are able to protect workers and guarantee favorable wages and benefits for employees working in dispensaries and elsewhere in the industry. Many states require or incentivize that companies applying for licenses to sell medical or recreational cannabis enter into labor peace agreements with a union. This greatly increases the chances of unionization. As a result, a lot of jobs in the cannabis industry are unionized. From the employee perspective, this is generally a good thing because this means higher wages and reasonable benefits. From the employer perspective, this means you overpay people with no experience and pay for their entire family’s healthcare.
*Footnote: McJob (noun): a low paid job with few prospects
How to Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry?
Are you interested in working in the cannabis industry? If so, we don’t blame you! Cannabis is an interesting growth industry that has many unique and evolving opportunities. Some jobs in the industry are unique to cannabis, while others are very similar to jobs seen in other settings such as marketing & sales, security, HR, accounting, and managerial roles.
The simplest way to find a job in the cannabis industry is to not change roles, and just go work for a cannabis company. As stated above, many of the jobs in the cannabis industry are similar to jobs in other industries. If you’re interested in working in the cannabis industry, the easiest way to do so is to search for positions that are similar to (or exactly the same as) your current role. If you don’t know where to look, do a quick internet search to find cannabis companies operating in your city or region. Most companies will have a careers page where you can search for jobs by location and keywords.
If there aren’t any postings related to your current role, take a look at what skills and experience you have. Some of your skills and experiences are surely translatable to the cannabis industry! Remember that dispensaries are not the only facilities offering jobs in the cannabis space! There is a lot of operational support needed at many stages throughout the supply chain. Growing, processing, transporting, manufacturing, and testing cannabis products requires a lot of work. Those with science backgrounds can get involved in research & development, formulation work, or product testing. There are also many ancillary businesses that don’t deal directly with cannabis but support the industry in other ways. The best way to find out about these types of companies is to read about the industry and network as much as possible. Reading CannaBuff magazine is a good place to start, too!
If your ultimate goal is to work inside a dispensary, two things that a lot of companies look for in applicants are (1) customer service and (2) experience in a retail setting. You don’t necessarily need to have paid work experience in a retail setting, but if you have any experience dealing with customers I definitely suggest making that a focal point of your application and/or interview.
As is important with all jobs, networking is a major key to landing a job in the cannabis industry. Before applying try to talk to people in similar roles and figure out why you may be a good fit. If you don’t know anyone working in the industry we love to make introductions (email firstname.lastname@example.org).