• Rachel

How to (legally) work in the US cannabis industry.



We're living in a world where you can get a shot of CBD oil in your hemp milk latte on your way to work in the morning. The cannabis industry is booming across the United States and blossoming in other countries too.


How to get started:

There's two routes you can take: legal and Illegal. With the new laws around marijuana production comes expensive licensing that farms simply just dont want to or can't pay for. SO, you can work on a farm that will promise you tax free pay but only when the product sells. Some actually do make good of their word but do you really want to risk your time and effort? Plus, you won't have nay workers liability insurance and you'll most likely be trimming in a rando dudes basement with a bunch of stoners who are cooked out of their mind.


My best recommendation is to go through a staffing company. This is what I did when I first arrived to Portland, Oregon and it comes with its unique set of pros and cons. If you're new to a city or just breaking into the industry this is your absolute best bet for finding work and making connections. A staffing company will essentially hold your hand through the entire process. Staffing companies exist in all states where marijuana is legal: Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and California.


Entry level positions include:

Trimmer

Budtender

Delivery Driver

Extractions Assistant

Greenhouse Assistant

Brand Ambassador




Longevity in you cannabis career:

The most common entry level position in the cannabis industry (and frankly the easiest to get hired for) is a weed trimmer; but don't think it's easy work. Being a weed trimmer requires fast hands, hyper attention to detail, great communication skills, ability to work with others, and the ability to sit for 8 or more hours per day doing a repetitive task. It's a great position to begin your journey into the world of cannabis. Also be aware that this position has, hands-down, the fastest turnover rate for any position in the industry. If you have a bad day and don't trim the minimum amount you can be asked not to return just like that. Luckily if you work with a staffing company, if you have demonstrated your hard work consecutively, you can simply be placed at another cultivation company. The thing to remember is that this is work, and you need to always do your best and remain professional.



Changing laws and your daily life at work:


Working in this industry is often like any startup business, and at times it will be very challenging. I remember talking to my manager and every day she would come in with new changes being made to our production line, new rules for quality control, new laws that will or will not be passed and how they affect our area of the industry and how much work we will have; sometimes this would affect affect our working hours drastically. At the time I was working as a trimmer, I had to have a second job as there simply wasn't enough hours to keep this as my sole income. For some people, this environment is exciting and others it's daunting so If you want to have longevity in your cannabis career make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. If you aren't excited by the ever-changing cannabis industry you may find that you won't last very long in it, but that's okay too.


A male plant in my sublet in Berlin.

Career options in cannabis:


What is SO exciting about the marijuana industry is that there are so many positions that don't require cannabis knowledge or experience. Perhaps you work in social media management or sale, you can work for a cultivation company as a Brand Ambassador or a a Budtender. If you're last job was for UberEats or Dominoes you can apply to work as a delivery driver. Once you begin working in the industry it becomes easier to advance or migrate into different fields; for example, I worked for a trimmer for only 2 months when I was offered the supervisor position of Lead trimmer. The industry attracts people from all walks of life and because of the high turnover rate, if you are consistently professional, kind, and respectful you will have a good chance of moving upwards.


WOMEN IN CANNABIS

Illustration by MoodBacon



My own experience being a women in the cannabis industry, is that frankly I was overlooked and ignored by my male colleagues. I was spoken over and not listened to in an interpersonal capacity as well as professional. It's very much a male-dominated industry but I believe this is likely to change as more and more women enter and thrive in this in the world of cannabis.


In an interview with Refinery29, Shiree Dyson, Cofounder & COO of Osanyin in Oakland, CA states that, "Women are largely invisible as players in the cannabis industry, which is ironic because the cannabis plant itself is about feminine energy (the female plant produces the cannabinoids that are responsible for the physical and spiritual effects of cannabis). The legalization of the industry is dominated by men, white men in particular, from the growers to the investors. It's the typical boys' club, where women are invisible. Seeing this unfold, I desire to create spaces representative of women, the LGBT community, and Black and Brown communities, based on our stories and our desires for products developed from our experiences."


You'll find that the majority of people working in the cannabis industry comes from all walks of life and had vastly different careers before entering the cannabis industry. That said, the industry is still male dominated: "It is challenging to be a woman in cannabis, and we are definitely a minority. [But] I think the solution lies in the power that women have when we unite — there is strength in numbers. As laws change and cannabis becomes fully legal, we need to ensure that this industry is inclusive — not just of women, but of people from every race, culture, age group, and background."


Read more: How to find weed when you move to a new city


What are your thoughts? Do you work in the cannabis industry or have you ever wanted to? I love to hear feedback in the comments!


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