Dear Dabby… Careers in Cannabis

Jobs in Cannabis

Comedian Ngaio Bealum offers advice on how to get a job in cannabis.


Are trimming careers a lucrative job option? Should I travel to Mendo to trim?Mike Grant-Labor

Yes. You can make good money. But the money is not particularly easy to get. It requires long hours and hard work, like being on an Alaskan fishing boat, except you probably won’t be thrown overboard or washed out to sea.

The going rate for trimming a pound of cannabis is about $200. A newbie can do maybe a pound in a 12-hour day, and that’s with decent pot. If the bud is larfy, small or riddled with mold, it may take longer. People with more experience can do maybe 2 pounds: I know someone who can do 3 pounds in a day, but she grew up on the mountain and is a bit of a legend.

Plus, trimming can be boring as hell. You basically sit in a cabin and trim until your muscles cramp up — then you switch hands and trim some more. If you’re with some cool folks, there may be good conversation and decent food, but really, you just sit and trim and trim and sit. It can be meditative if you have the right mindset, but mostly it’s like working an assembly line.

Also, don’t just show up somewhere in Humboldt or Mendo with your scissors and a sign saying “will trim for weed.” Large-scale marijuana cultivation is still illegal, and some people are less than scrupulous in their business dealings. If you agree to trim for a bunch of people you don’t know and they stiff you come payday, who you gonna tell? The best thing to do is to have some work set up before you arrive. Ask your friends. Someone you know probably has a good connection to a sweet gig.

And you don’t even have to go to the Emerald Triangle anymore. Outdoor cannabis is everywhere in California, except maybe Fresno County. From Loomis to Susanville, from Marin to Redding, the crops are there and the growers need help.

Good luck, be careful and don’t forget to pack a set of clean clothes in some sort of airtight container; when you leave the shed you will reek of weed, but you won’t notice it because you’ll be inured to the aroma. Having some clothes that don’t smell like a skunk hotboxed a blunt in your car will go a long way toward keeping people from staring at you when you’re in line at the bank.

How do I include my cannabis experience on my resume? Does it matter what job I had? – Susan B Blazed

Be honest and professional — working for a weed club isn’t a big deal anymore. You just gotta know how to phrase it. Don’t say “budtender,” say “retail sales clerk.” If you are looking for a job in a state where cannabis is illegal, make sure to stress that you worked for a “state law-compliant” business. Listen: jobs skills are job skills; marketing is marketing; managing is managing and good customer service is good customer service.

A smart employer would recognize your ability to work and thrive in a pot-infused office setting as a bonus. Get your former boss to write you a nice reference. Make sure your office skills are up to par. Be on time. Dress like a professional and don’t smell like weed when you walk in. Ace the interview. Get a job.

I have years of experience in the underground market. How do I get involved in the regulated industry? Do my skills carry over? Mr. Nice Guy

Of course your skills carry over. The “weed game” and the “cannabis industry” are synonymous with each other.

Can you break a pound down into good-looking eighths and grams or roll a good joint? Work in the packaging department. Do you know all the strains and can you spot mold and botrytis? Sounds like you could be a buyer. Were you the “weed man?” Get into the delivery business. Be professional. State your case. Good luck.

How do I successfully brand myself and my business? – Buddy Green

Quick answer: spend a ton of money. There are so many companies looking to do branding and marketing for cannabis businesses it boggles the mind. Cannabis branding is a new business, so look for companies that have had success marketing other products.

Longer answer: You could take a few marketing classes if you are looking to do the marketing yourself. Make sure your message is easy to remember and your logo is distinctive and simple. Establish an internet and social media presence. You may want to hire someone in-house to take care of the marketing and branding so you can concentrate on creating a superlative product. The cannabis marketplace is about to get hella congested, so finding a way to be outstanding in your field of marijuana will be a challenge. Find your niche.

Originally published in Issue 26 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

Ngaio Bealum has been a cannabis advocate for more than 20 years. He is the former editor of West Coast Cannabis magazine. He also writes about cannabis for a variety of publications and also produces canna-centric events all over the country. In his spare time he travels around the country telling jokes. He has opened for Dave Chappelle and Weird Al, and is a frequent guest on the Doug Benson podcasts. Mr. Bealum also prefers sun grown cannabis to indoor marijuana.

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