Cannabis continues its legalization march across the country. With access to medicinal and adult-use marijuana comes the creation of jobs and careers. From lucrative positions to entry-level work, job seekers across the U.S. and Canada now have the opportunity to enter this booming space.
In 2018, the marijuana industry added over 64,000 jobs, marking a 44% increase from the year before. More roles should open as additional states legalize. While that may be the case, economists believe the job market is tightening.
Consider entering the market before it gets any tighter. Here are four ways you can stand out when entering the cannabis job market:
I remember showing up to my first cannabis event in New York City. Freshly entering the cannabis writing field, I was unsure of where to go or who to meet in 2017. Starting off, I did a Google search of top cannabis events in my area. I chose CannaGather and never looked back.
Looking back wasn’t necessary because of the people I met the first night and many more after. Kym “Kym B” Byrnes, co-owner of TribeTokes CBD, urged the crowd to get involved if you want to be part of this community. Getting work in a semi-legal industry won’t happen the same way it may at a typical job. Cannabis is shifting to some degree, but most companies still rely on word of mouth endorsements and first-hand interactions. A nice resume likely won’t do it for many.
By showing up at events, rallies, info sessions, protests, and other gatherings, you create a presence in the space that no resume or LinkedIn profile could replicate.
Now, go a step further. Meet people and take a genuine interest in who they are and what they do. Don’t be afraid to discuss your knowledge or lack thereof in cannabis. Most people come with an open mind and want to find culture fits. Offer yourself up that way, and you could find opportunities sooner than you may think.
Not sure where to go? Look for your local chapters of NORML, Women Grow, the National Cannabis Industry Association to get started. Worst case scenario, there aren’t any in your area. Maybe you can turn this into an opportunity to start your own group. If possible, connect local enthusiasts while getting attention for yourself by organizing events.
You never know where the opportunity is until you show up. If there isn’t one, consider creating it.
Use Your Current Job Skills
Unless you want to walk away from your career altogether, you don’t have to start from scratch with a marijuana career. Instead, carry over your skills to the burgeoning space.
Early on in my cannabis career, Eric Vlosky, Director of Marketing for PurePressure rosin presses, told me that virtually any job can be applied to the cannabis industry. With a few adjustments, you can pivot from just about any role in one job sector to the cannabis space.
More obvious choices include having experience in retail, cultivation, lab testing and a plethora of roles in that vein. Everyone from marketers to teachers to lawyers to sanitation specialists all can play their part in the growing industry. That includes military veterans who now use their training to protect cannabis companies and their earnings from theft.
Many companies are looking for a variety of skill sets. If you don’t find one for your particular skills, don’t get down on yourself. You may have just found the next hole to fill in the market.
Be Flexible, but Not Too Flexible, With Your Role
It sometimes feels like cannabis is one giant startup company. One of the more common rules uttered in the startup space over the past decade or so is the need for flexibility. Ideally, this means an employee is willing to adjust their role or tasks, bending to the ebbs and flows of the shaping industry.
What could be in-demand and your prime job today may be passé the next, shifting your role to focus on another area or task. Startups want flexibility to keep reaching for their goals without losing staff or progress.
This applies to cannabis as well, to a degree. Several business leaders explained to me that job seekers should be open to adjusting their work responsibilities to a degree. That said, they need to remain committed to their role and career goals. Otherwise, a job seeker runs the risk of becoming a generalist with no discernable expertise, lost in the talent pool.
Aspiring cannabis workers should remember their career goals while possessing a willingness to adapt to the role as the market shifts. Demonstrate your knowledge, passion, and commitment to your work without closing off any opportunities to expand.
Maintain Community Ethics
At its heart, the cannabis community relies on a spirit of equality and sharing. Original community members often emphasized wanting to see people enjoy themselves, feel comfortable and come away feeling better than they had previously.
Today, that spirit remains in many consumers and those working in the industry. Concerns still remain, however. As the market matures, some in the community warn that cannabis could lose that spirit as it is commodified. To push back on these fears, companies often wanted to go beyond a person’s job skills to understand who they were as a person. Primarily, seeing if they embody the spirit laid out decades ago.
In truth, as the market develops, this point is less a must and more a suggestion. That said, whether you embody the spirit of the cannabis community or not, do yourself a favor and brush up on its past. Understand the ethics of the industry and why it matters to so many people.
Andrew Ward is the author of Cannabis Jobs, a must-read for anyone and everyone hoping to enter the cannabis industry. Ward’s second book, exploring cannabis community etiquette and respect, is due out in October 2020.
Hoping to get a lead on the competition? Check out the Green Flower Fundamentals Certificate Program before your next job hunt.