MAYBE YOU'VE always wanted a job in the weed industry.
Not slinging dime bags to polo-shirted broheims, or hawking hand-blown glass on a dirty blanket in the parking lot of a Dave Matthews concert—but an actual, honest-to-Jah, living-wage job with benefits, paid holidays, and even business cards. Is that even a thing?
The people behind the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC), happening at the Oregon Convention Center on September 13 and 14, believe it is. The event includes speakers from the cannabis world (High Times Ask Ed columnist Ed Rosenthal; Oakland's Harborside Health Center Executive Director Steve DeAngelo) and politicos (Congressman Earl Blumenauer, author of the report "The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy"; and State Senator Floyd Prozanski and State Representative Peter Buckley, sponsors of the Dispensary Bill).
Anthony Johnson, co-founder of the ICBC, quotes a study by the Colorado-based trade association Marijuana Industry Group that estimates "there are about 10,000 industry jobs directly involved with marijuana in the state, with 1,000 to 2,000 created since the state implemented licensed and regulated sales to adults over 21." These are all jobs directly tied to the growing, processing, and sale of marijuana in Colorado, Johnson points out. "This doesn't include the jobs indirectly benefiting from regulated marijuana, including construction jobs, consultants, accountants, and attorneys."
Johnson isn't aware of any numbers yet from Washington State related to the rollout of their legal recreational sales, but says, "It is safe to say that there are thousands of jobs related to the medical system and newly established regulated system for all adults."
While no one at the conference is going to be handing out job applications, they offer educational seminars and platforms for networking and discussions about current legislative issues. And with Oregon voting on recreational legalization this November via Measure 91 (Johnson's the lead petitioner), it's possible we could see similar employment numbers here.
But let's say you can't afford to open a dispensary or grow operation. In that case, the expense of a ticket to the conference itself will be a barrier—prices start at $599, and go as high as $948.
So, until you start seeing "Help Wanted: Must Know Weed" signs, consider what type of job you want. If you're interested in harvesting, selling, or processing marijuana, you might as well get to growing—legally, of course. Or you can apply to a local medical dispensary as a "budtender."
There are also infinite possibilities for jobs more peripherally related to the industry. For instance, Washington and Colorado already have drivers for cannabis delivery services, and tour guides for canna-tourists. Consider opening a weed-friendly B&B, or learn to roll multi-tier joints that look like the Enterprise. (Google it.) A weed-infused oil massage could have people lining up for blocks. Or put that graphic-design experience to use by designing marijuana-related signs, banners, and packages that aren't littered with rainbows, pot leaves, or unicorns. That may be the greatest good you could do for us all.