As a weed columnist, the most frequent question I get asked is “How the hell did you get this job? Of whom do you have compromising photos, and may I see them? I mean, seriously, you?” (My answer: “Mom, we’ve gone over this. Eat your space cake and settle down.”)
The second most common question? “I want to work in the weed industry—how do I get a job?” (My answer: “practice,” until I remember that’s the punch line to a joke about how to get to Carnegie Hall, and probably isn’t of much use.)
So here are my insights for those seeking gainful employment in the cannabis industry.
Get a Marijuana Worker Permit. This isn’t the permit held by the red-eyed barista who always gets your morning coffee order wrong, and spells your name “Ehmaylee” on the cup. It’s the permit that is required in Oregon if you have a position requiring you to handle cannabis, even briefly. It’s easy to study for and obtain—all you need to do is score 70 percent or better on the online test and you’ve passed. (There are no extra points for taking the test while high.) It costs $100, and virtually any growing, trimming, or dispensary job will require one. This link can get you set up.
Now that the gubbermint done certified you as qualified to handle the jazz tobacco, it’s time to start looking for a “ganja gig.” (Don’t actually call it that.) Just as when seeking a non-cannabis job, it’s best to try networking—i.e., meeting people in the cannabis industry. Avoid trade shows, as most are overhyped and underperform. (Exhibit A: I wrote part of this column while staffing a booth at a conference that charged $150 for a one-day ticket.) Instead, seek out more reasonably priced industry mixers, cannabis trade group meetings, and events with a cannabis component. The Portland chapter of Women Grow recently folded, but other places such as Prism House (prismhousepdx.com) hold a variety of workshops that have a cannabis focus, including their Oregon Cannabis Industry Meet-Up.
Did you know that Facebook is good for something other than kitten videos and arguing with your small-minded racist friends from high school about Trump? It’s true! There are groups that list jobs and the people seeking them. I’m partial to one called Cannabis Industry Jobs & OMMP, which is a closed group, but you can request to join.
There are also staffing agencies that can help you get a job, temporary or permanent, in the cannabis industry. The positions may change with the seasons—trimmers are more highly sought after during September through November, when the sun-grown cannabis crops are harvested. There are over a dozen that I know of, but try viridianstaffing.com, thcstaffinggroup.com, or the Portland-based greenforcestaffing.com.
Never stop learning. Seek out webinars, blogs, and websites that cover cannabis. We’re discovering more about the plant every day, and simply being a partaker on the reg isn’t enough. Some sites can even certify you in a particular field of interest. From grower to budtender, there is always more knowledge to be obtained, so seek it out.
Make sure this is indeed the field you want to work in. Growers, processors, dispensary employees, and edible makers face restrictive and expensive regulations and fees. Budtenders rarely make more than $15 per hour, if that. You most likely won’t be getting high all day on the job, either (trimmers might be excluded from this). An OLCC grower I know recently lamented that the cameras covering every inch of his facility, excluding the restrooms, make partaking impossible and illegal. He showed me bins of perfectly cured, crystal-coated buds, encompassing nine new strains. “How do they smoke?” I asked. “No idea, we can’t try a single gram until they are tested, and the wait is about a month to get that done.”
But if you are certain this is your calling, dive in! This is on pace to be a billion-dollar industry in Oregon, and it needs responsible, professional individuals with a love for cannabis, be they partakers or not.