Finding a job in the cannabis industry requires hard work and persistence. Here are some tips to secure employment within the wide world of cannabis commerce.
For those searching for cannabis employment the biggest factor in building a reputation and career in the industry is staying informed of what’s legal and what’s not. Its OK if you’re not an expert on cannabis laws, as long as you’re honest with yourself and your colleagues about your limitations.
- California NORML and Frank Lucido have published tips for individuals.
- David Downs of the San Francisco Chronicle has a daily newsletter that is keeping track of the new business regulations, and regularly publishes detailed updates on all things cannabis.
It is sometimes worth the investment to take classes or attend a conference. Oaksterdam University is the oldest and most legit place to learn and connect and Americans for Safe Access is still one of the best sources of information for medical patients and providers.
It is also crucial to remember where the cannabis industry came from and how much social justice work is still left to do. In other words, how did the U.S. become the world’s leader in cannabis arrests and incarceration, while also leading the world in legal cannabis sales? Why are people still incarcerated for activities that are now legal? Even when legalization leads to people being released, they often no longer have access to public housing, food stamps, voting, drivers’ licenses, student loans and legal employment. How are industry leaders helping the people who are still carrying sentences and felonies and how are they helping them recover after they are released?
For instance, there are over 500 dispensaries in Colorado and only a tiny fraction are Black-owned businesses. In addition, you are not allowed to work in the industry if you have a criminal record even if the record is from a cannabis offense!
Work Towards Equity
Finally, the lack of equity in the cannabis industry is making national news, but it will take years of hard work and ongoing cooperation to achieve the necessary balance. Thankfully, many organizations have been founded with this mission over the past few years and their leaders have some helpful advice specifically for this industry:
Amber Senter, cofounder of Supernova Women says:
“The cannabis industry is a small but rapidly growing industry, networking is not only helpful to you (and possibly your career), but it is also helpful to others. Networking allows you to gather information about the industry and the trends, learn about the triumphs and pitfalls of others, gain free career advice, and also bounce ideas off of like-minded individuals. There is no reason to not be networking, you stand to benefit at whatever stage you are at in your career.”
Nelson Guerrero, cofounder of Cannabis Cultural Association says:
“It pays to be an activist. The Cannabis Cultural Association was started because of the lack of diversity and inclusion in the cannabis space. Because we’re trying to better the industry as a whole, many job opportunities have opened that wouldn’t have normally, because people trust us. Also, by pushing for more diversity and inclusion in the industry, we are literally adding more wealth to an already estimated $26 billion industry by 2020.”
Ebele Ifedigbo, cofounder of Hood Incubator says:
“In the cannabis industry, it is still very much about who you know. Your level of connectedness will determine the quantity and quality of industry opportunities you find out about. Commit to make one solid connection with someone in the industry. Go out on a limb. Call or email someone you are curious about or admire. Get to know that person and then ask them ‘Is there anyone else who you can connect me with to learn more about the industry?’ Make a point to ask that question to every new person you meet, and be sure to follow up when a person. makes a new introduction on your behalf. Using this practice over time, you will start to become more and more integrated in the cannabis industry/community. Opportunities for employment will flow from there.”
Follow Normal Etiquette
It is also imperative to follow etiquette rules like you would in any field:
- Cover letters are still important!
- Find a mentor.
- Find a networking group that represents your interests. Are you a student? Are you a grower? Do you want to get involved in government? Do you want to focus on coalition-building?
- You might have to accept a pay cut or a commission-based job to gain enough experience. Trying something outside your comfort zone is one of the best ways to learn about the field and yourself.
- You might not be able to quit your day job just yet. In the meantime, avoid and disclose conflicts of interest.
- Avoid overmedicating and otherwise acting unprofessionally at industry meetings and events. Even when everyone around you is dabbing, you might want to stick to microdoses to avoid embarrassing yourself with potential employers.
TELL US, what job would be your ideal cannabis career?