How to Get a Job in the Marijuana Industry

Tony the Editor-in-Chief at THCoverdose.com sent me this piece and several shorter ones that showcase Cannabis jobs and how to get them.   The article is informative and provides helpful tips and ideas about landing jobs in the cannabis industry.  Enjoy!

Imagine getting to work in the marijuana industry. It’s a new industry that still needs its pioneers. The possibilities are endless, and best of all, it’s in the freakin’ marijuana industry!

Today, we’re going to show you how to get a job in the marijuana industry. And where did we get our information?  Straight from the mouths of the people in charge of hiring at various harvesting companies, dispensaries and even some people in the smoking accessories space. Whatever you want to do in the marijuana industry, this guide will teach you what you need to do to get the job.

How Can Someone Improve Their Chances of Getting a Job in the Marijuana Industry?

When doing our research, we asked companies that are at ground zero of the legal marijuana boom one simple question: How can someone improve their chance at getting a job in the marijuana industry?

Once you get your foot in the door, the growth potential is amazing. The market is projected to be $30 billion by 2021, with no signs of slowing its growth. The money is there. The jobs are there. The only problem? Actually getting your feet in the door.

Because of this phenomenal growth, and the massive amounts of money floating around, the marijuana space is starting to attract top talent. Growing marijuana for a living is everyone’s dream job, but what do you put on your resume? That you’ve been growing in your closet the past ten years? Probably not.

Before you start your journey to working in this cannabis space, you need to think about why you want to do. The jobs are demanding, and, depending on the job you want, may require you to devote a lot of time to studying cannabis. Master grower, extraction technician and even chef all require precision and years of hard work to master. The cannabis industry is for the ambitious and the talented. If you think you have what it takes, keep reading to find out how you can get your chance.

Brief History of the Cannabis Job Market

The beginning of the 106-year prohibition of marijuana all started with Massachusetts requiring a prescription to get marijuana. And then in 1937 when the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act made cannabis illegal at a federal level. Since then we’ve hit major milestones on the path to winning our cannabis back.

In 1973 Oregon first decriminalized possession, and then again in 1996 when California Prop 215 first made marijuana legal again in the United States. One by one states are starting to follow California’s lead in legalizing medicinal marijuana, and this brought its fair share of jobs. It wasn’t until 2012, however, when both Colorado and Washington both legalized cannabis for recreational use, that the job market exploded. 2015 brought 18,000 jobs to Colorado alone. And as of today, in total, the marijuana industry has created an estimated 123,000 jobs! Plus, with more and more states legalizing cannabis on a recreational level, that number is projected to hit 283,422 jobs by 2020.

Does the Pay Reflect the Market Size?

Of course, we all want to work with cannabis. It’s something we love and strongly believe in. Plus, cannabis culture is filled with positive vibes and people trying to make the world a better place. But, at the end of the day, rent is due on the 1st of the month, every month. So, how good is the pay in the marijuana industry? Let’s take a look at some of the most popular jobs in the industry and how their salaries play out.

Grow Master

You can’t think about working with cannabis without wanting to grow it! And, while you don’t start off as a grow master, this should ultimately be your end goal if you want to grow cannabis. We’ll get into the duties of a grower, as well as how to get a job growing, in just a bit. Moneywise, though, you can expect to make over $100,000 per year plus a cut of the profits.

Store Managers

Managing a store (head shop or dispensary) is a good way to take job skills from another job sector into the marijuana industry Since not a lot of other skills transfer over, if your resume demands it, you can manage a store and command $75,000 a year plus bonuses. Sure, it all depends on the sales of your store, but with business continuing to increase a good manager will be worth more and more.

Dispensary Owner

Now, this isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’re an adventurous entrepreneur that wants in the space, this is one route you can go. With some stores doing $20+ million in sales annually you can make some good change being at the top of the food chain. Be prepared, however, to face struggles with storing money, jumping through red tape and the threat of a federal crackdown.

Extraction Technician

Extracts have BLOWN UP in the past few years. For good reason, they rock. With the demand for them increasing, so is the demand for extraction technicians. This isn’t the easiest job to get, however.

To be looked at on this side of the business, your schooling is going to need to back you up. A lot of these techs have Ph.D.’s in chemistry, and it involves a lot of lab work, but you can expect to earth $75,000 to $125,000 per year.

 Bud Trimmers

If you have no experience, but really want to get your hands on the bud, this is your best bet.

Usually, an entry-level position that can lead to better-paying jobs like a grower, bud trimmers earn $12-18 per hour. You can read more on bud trimmer salaries here.

Bud Tenders

Another entry-level position, however, it is ultra-competitive. To land a job as a budtender, you need to really study your strains, know the effects they have and what they are suggested to treat. Your job is to help the consumer land on the perfect cannabis for their situation. You can expect anywhere from 31,200 to $42,000 per year as a budtender.

Edibles Chefs

Love cooking? If so, combine your love of cannabis with cooking, and you can make some damn good money. It’s not as simple as just cooking, though. You are expected to make good tasting edibles while also maintaining perfect dosing amounts. The casual cook can use our cannabis cooking calculator found here, but a profession edibles chief will have to lab test everything. They make $50,000-$100,000 per year depending on your experience and talent.

The List Goes On and On

There are more jobs in the space then you think. We need accountants, lawyers, doctors, sales reps and marketers. There’s glassblowing, working in head shops and online headshop warehouses. If you fancy yourself a writer, you can even get paid to write about cannabis by publishing companies like THCoverdose. Remember, you don’t just have to have your hands on the buds to carve yourself a niche in the marijuana industry.

 

Regulatory Guidelines for Product Quality Are Necessary for the Success of the Medical Cannabis Industry

While medical cannabis products do not require federal regulatory approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in states where it is legal, the emerging medical cannabis industry ought to adopt its regulatory guidelines and practices that assure the quality of all marketed US drugs and devices. This is because, at present, no universal regulatory guidelines or requirements exist to ensure medical cannabis quality and safety. Not surprisingly, the quality attributes of medical cannabis vary wildly from state to state and even between different locations within the same city, county or state. Clearly, this is not in the best interests of medical cannabis users.

FDA established mandatory federal quality guidelines to guarantee product safety, identity, strength and purity. According to FDA, product safety means that a product is free of unexpected side effects when it is used properly by a patient. Identity guarantees that a product is exactly what its label and related informational materials say it is. Strength means that a given product consistently delivers the correct dosage and potency over its shelf life from its manufacture to its expiration. Purity indicates that a product is free from physical, biological and chemical contamination.  Put simply, these guidelines guarantee consumers that products are safe, effective and meet defined quality attributes.

The agency has developed different sets of regulatory guidelines that ensure product quality during various phases of development, manufacturing and commercialization. The existing guidelines that are relevant to the medical cannabis industry include 1) Current Good Laboratory Practices (CGMP), Current Good Clinical Practices (CGCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP).

CGLPs are the guidelines that regulatory laboratory activities during preclinical development of products. This includes data collection and documentation, creation of standard operating procedures (SOPs), safety and pharmacology testing in laboratory animals, and sample preparation, handling and storage. Traditionally, CGLP helps guide development and ensure the quality of individual molecules but can be applied to extracts, tinctures and other products derived from cannabis plants.

CGCP was developed to guide the planning, conduct and analysis of human clinical trials that are required before a prescription drug can garner FDA regulatory approval. While CGCP is not relevant for most medical cannabis growers and dispensaries, it is required for companies that are currently trying to develop cannabis-derived pharmaceuticals and related products.

The set of regulatory guidelines that is most appropriate for a majority of medical cannabis growers, formulators and dispensaries is CGMP.  CGMPs were developed to assure that:

  • Raw materials used in the manufacture of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products are of known and possibly standardized quality and are free from contamination
  • A manufacturing process is proven to produce a product that consistently meets its specifications and quality attributes
  • Adequate quality control and assurance testing measures have been employed to assure that a product meets its quality specifications at the time of release to market and at the end of its shelf life

There are 10 basic CGMP principles that help t o ensure product quality, safety and efficacy. They are:

  1. Proper design and construction of facilities
  2. Validation of facilities, equipment and manufacturing processes (materials testing, cleaning, software etc)
  3. Proper maintenance of equipment, facilities and utilities
  4. Creation of SOPs (and adherence to them)
  5. Documentation of all processes, data collection, record keeping etc
  6. Employee development, on-going training and certification
  7. Contamination protection and prevention
  8. Employee health and hygiene
  9. Product manufacturing records and reports (that enable product recalls)
  10. Audits and Inspections

Following these principles will help to create a process that produces a product that is reproducibly consistent, safe and effective.

Because FDA approval is not required for medical cannabis use in states where it is legal, there is no requirement that any CGLP, CGCP or CGMP must be implemented. That said, assuring product consistency, quality, safety and effectiveness will go a long way to help establish medical cannabis brand reputation and reliability.

References

  1. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=58  
  2. https://www.fda.gov/aboutfda/centersoffices/officeofmedicalproductsandtobacco/cder/ucm090259.htm
  3. https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/granule/CFR-2011-title21-vol4/CFR-2011-title21-vol4-part210

The Dangers of Dabbing

Dabbing or “doing a dab” is a new method of Cannabis consumption that is growing in popularity.   The reason why dabbing Cannabis concentrates is preferable to smoking Cannabis flower is a reduction in the number of inhalation to achieve desired effects, increased potency and longer lasting effects (Raber et al).  While dabbing is gaining in popularity (mainly among recreational users (1), there may be some hidden safety issues  and health concerns with the practice.

Concentrated Cannabis products are prepared by a variety of different methods (Fig 1).

Fig. 1.  Different types of Cannabis concentrate preparation (from Raber et al.[1])

While dry and water-based extraction methods have been traditionally used to make concentrates like fief, hash and others, solvent-based extractions are increasingly being used to make Cannabis concentrates. Most solvent-based concentrates are made by extraction of plant material with organic solvents such as isopropanol, acetone  hexane and others.  Unfortunately, these solvents are toxic and carcinogenic (can cause cancer). Often, residual solvent residues are found in concentrates and ought to be a health concern for Cannabis users.

Likewise, liquid gas-based extractions that use low boiling hydrocarbon gases such as butane and propane to make Cannabis concentrates  are popular.  Because pressure or cooling of these solvents is required, there is a very good possibility of catastrophic explosions and fires if these extractions are performed by unskilled persons (2).  Also, another concern with liquid gas extractions is the quality of the solvent that is used.  Frequently, these solvents are industrial grade,  not pure and may contain lubricating oils which can end up in the concentrate.  Finally, like chemical extraction methods, high levels of residual solvent used in the liquid gas extraction may be present the final product which can be harmful to the end user.

Because of the possible safety and health consequences, chemical Cannabis extraction is illegal in California (3).  Instead, many extracts are produced by using compressed CO2 as the extraction solvent–thereby avoiding the use of flammable and toxic chemical solvents.

Recently, Raber et al. (1)  analyzed 57 Cannabis concentrates available in the California Cannabis marketplace.  Over 80% of these concentrates was contaminated either by residual solvents or pesticides.

The take home message? While dabbing offers a longer-lasting more intense Cannabis experience, dabbers may be exposing themselves to short-term safety issue and possible long-term health consequences.

REFERENCES

  1. Raber JC, Elzinga S, Kaplan C. Understanding dabs;contamination concerns of cannabis concentrates and cannabinoid transfer during the act of dabbing. J. Toxicol. Sci. 2015; 40:797-803
  2. Jensen G, Bertelotti, R, Greenhalgh,  Palmieri T,  Maguina P.  Honey oil burns; a growing problem.  J. Burn Care Res.  2015; 36:34-37
  3. Monzingo, J. Making butane hash a lethal mix in home drug labs. 2014 http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/05/local/la-me-butane-hash-20140206 accessed June 29, 2017

Finding a Science Job in the Cannabis Industry

According to a recent report by the Cannabis website Leafly, America’s legal cannabis industry now supports more than 122,000 full-time jobs in 29 States and Washington DC. I

A recent article by Bruce Barcott entitled “How to Find a Job in the Cannabis Industry” offers some insights on the types of jobs that are available and how to land one.

He offered, like most industries the best way to land a job in the Cannabis industry is to network yourself into one. Also, working with a recruiting firm can be helpful.  Interestingly, recruiting firms and staffing companies that specialize in Cannabis jobs are popping up daily in many states where medical and recreational Cannabis are legal. However, before you take the plunge it is important to educate yourself to determine what is out there and whether or not you are a good fit for a Cannabis career.

So what do we know?  Most of the open jobs are in the Western states, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Arizona with a growing presence in Minnesota and Massachusetts. There are a smattering of jobs emerging in New York, Connecticut, Maryland  and Washington DC.  While 40 percent of open positions are specific to the Cannabis industry, roughly 60 are jobs that exist in other industries such as executive assistants, human resources specialists retail operations directors bookkeepers and staff accountants.That said, there are a number of Cannabis business operators who are looking for pharmaceutical sales representatives, or in horticulturalists from large commercial plant growing operations.

So question is: are there are any jobs in the Cannabis for the average Bio Job Blog reader?  The answer is YES!!!!!!  Here are a few examples: Laboratory chemist, operations manager, analytical chemist/production manager, software developer, food productions manager, and my favorite professional joint roller.  Of course there will be many more opportunities as the industry continues to grow (pun intended). That said, relocation is likely required but then again if you are qualified and possess the skills the company may offer a relocation package.  There is a ton of money being made in the industry!