Workzone: Growing cannabis industry a boost for job market
November 21, 2016 12:00 AM
By Steve Twedt / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
It may not be the career path your parents had envisioned but if you’re looking for a booming job market, the cannabis industry might be one to consider.
Marijuana Business Daily has estimated that 100,000 to 150,000 people hold full- or part-time jobs in the legal marijuana industry, a number certain to go up after election results earlier this month meant a total of 29 states now have legalized marijuana in some fashion, including eight that allow recreational use.
“These are going to be new jobs that never were before,” said Bob Calkin, president of the Los Angeles-based Cannabis Career Institute, which has been posting jobs at its cannajobs.com site for more than five years.
Out in the greenhouse, positions may range from grow master, commanding a six-figure salary, to an entry level bud trimmer.
In the dispensary, store managers may see salaries in the $75,000 range while a retail staff member, affectionately known as a budtender, typically gets paid $11 to $15 an hour.
But Mr. Calkin pointed out there is also a need for consultants, lawyers, web developers, marketers and administrators.
“Every sector is going to be hit by the cannabis industry. Most of the jobs that you see are not related to the touching and growing of marijuana.”
A career in cannabis is not without its quirks.
Because federally-regulated banks have been reluctant to extend loans to a business that the federal government still considers illegal, employees may get paid in cash and have to forgo traditional benefits such as health care and retirement plans.
Then there’s this: Despite the comparative youth of the industry, cannabis business owners posting job vacancies often want experienced applicants.
“That’s the Catch-22,” said Mr. Calkin, 52. “You want to say you have experience, but it was illegal. So how did you get that experience?”
Today, his 20-employee institute holds traveling seminars across the country on getting into the cannabis business, both as entrepreneurs and employees, with ones scheduled in Cleveland and Harrisburg the first week in December. The institute charges $349.99 to $499.99 for the day-long seminars.
Because Pennsylvania has taken a conservative approach to legalization — limiting access to people with certain medical conditions and prohibiting sale of cannabis in dry leaf or as a confectionary edible — Mr. Calkin expects job growth will be slower here.
But he expects the experience of other states may prove alluring.
“In Colorado, there are many thousands of jobs now than there ever were before,” he said. “That can only be a good thing.”
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