The increase in legalized medical and recreational pot means more ways to earn a living in the cannabis industry. Here’s how.
When the Brookings Institution, the elite think tank with an address on Embassy Row in Washington, DC, advises college grads to get into the cannabis industry, the paradigm shift has officially occurred.
John Hudak, a fellow at Brookings who studied Colorado’s legalization of the plant, noted the job opportunities that the industry presents to younger workers. “That can be a real economic positive in a state trying to find jobs for young people,” he told Bloomberg Business, “and for an industry that doesn’t require a college degree to do a job or extensive training except for higher agriculture.” Indeed, starting wages in Colorado’s cannabis industry average $10 per hour—25 percent higher than the state minimum wage of $8.
In its short but heady history, the legal cannabis industry has been booming. According to WeedHire, a leading site for cannabis job-seekers, the industry has developed a more solid footing—as seen in the number of high-paying jobs available. “There is a process that happens,” says WeedHire CEO David Bernstein. “First, legislation is passed. Then, licenses are issued, businesses are formed—which is followed by growth in manufacturing, retail and marketing.” This cycle typically takes 18 to 24 months, he adds, so he would like to see states like Illinois tracking this arc. Since medical marijuana licenses were first issued there in January, Bernstein estimates that “next summer, there will be thousands of jobs generated” in the state.
While there’s been an especially notable surge in jobs directly involved in the cannabis industry, many other industries will benefit from increased marijuana legalization, says Robert Calkin, the CEO and founder of the career site Cannajobs and the Cannabis Career Institute, and the owner since 1988 of Green Dot Guy, a medical marijuana delivery service in Los Angeles. “Cannabis is creating jobs in every sector of the US economy,” he adds. “Advertising, publishing, accounting—you name it, it has been affected by cannabis.”
Take, for example, real estate. The services of traditional commercial brokers and attorneys, as well as builders, contractors and ancillary construction, are all required to build growhouses, dispensaries, manufacturing facilities, and retail spaces that are both efficient and legally compliant—and all of these services require highly specialized skill sets that few people have, Bernstein points out.
Another leading indicator: Suddenly, the marketplace is seeing cannabis professionals openly marketing their expertise—which they may have developed over the course of decades but kept on the down-low until recently. “In the past, no one was listing that they were a medical marijuana lawyer in the phone book,” Calkin says. “But today, for the first time, people will openly tell you they’ve been working in the industry all their lives.”
The experts interviewed for this article say that jobseekers looking to start a career in the legal cannabis industry benefit from having firsthand experience and a passion for the product—even if that experience comes from black-market activity. At the same time, the surge in education for all aspects of weed production—from growing to sales and marketing—means that formal degrees and certificates tend to move a résumé higher on the stack.
A handful of private startups are offering a variety of courses—both in-person and virtual—on the ins and outs of starting and running a cannabis business, including regulation, marketing, horticulture and manufacturing. Leaders in this area include Oaksterdam University, 420 College, Medical Marijuana Tampa, the Cannabis Career Institute and Clover Leaf University, which made headlines a few years back when it received state approval from the Colorado Department of Higher Education. Courses at these places start at a few hundred dollars and go into the thousands. On the academic side, law schools like Vanderbilt University, Santa Clara University and the University of Denver all offer courses related to marijuana and the law.
Because of these formal educational opportunities, the requirements for landing a job in the legal cannabis industry are increasingly stiff, Bernstein warns: “The pay scale is way above average, but the expectations are much higher too.” For example, the operations-supervisor positions listed on WeedHire range from $59,028 to $85,023, while the national average for that job is just $53,677, according to Glassdoor.com. More than half of WeedHire’s postings pay between $30,000 and $50,000, while the median net wages for a US worker was just over $28,000, according to the Social Security Administration.
That’s because many employers in the industry are seeking high-quality workers. “Business owners are willing to pay more for people who will stay with them longer, who they can trust,” Bernstein says. These workers will be “dealing with product every day,” so employers “can’t afford to be reckless and hire someone who is going to sell the product out the back door.”
Source – High Times