Current Cannabis Industry Job Market
The cannabis industry job market is continuing to mature from infancy to adolescence. This change is set about with political, financial, and geographical influences. Along this line of thought, different geographies of the industry, like the Pennsylvania medical marijuana space, are experiencing the “growing pains” of adolescence. In order to succeed, marijuana industry professionals and “hopefuls” alike must adapt to the challenges put forth in a rapidly changing vocational climate.
Different Markets Present Different Challenges
California contains the most long-standing marijuana-based economies in the United States. However, the industry is now undergoing a complete overhaul due to the opening of a recreational marketplace. These changes will bring with them strict government regulations on cannabis businesses and thousands of dispensary jobs. The California cannabis industry job market is an absolute boon for professionals and hopefuls. Because, cannabis businesses in the Golden State now have to develop branded products that must compete in a regulated marketplace.
Colorado as well as the Eastern United States present their own challenges as well as opportunities concerning employment in the cannabis space. To start with Colorado, the State’s residents and politicians had the foresight to develop an industry that is now fully functional. This infrastructure provides respectable positions for a large portion of the population.
While the Colorado cannabis job market is no longer experiencing the sort of growth seen in other geographies like the Pennsylvania medical marijuana industry, there are still excellent employment opportunities throughout the state. Finally, looking at novel markets in the Massachusetts and Illinois cannabis industries, front-runners are “suit and tie” business-people. They are focused on professionalizing the cannabis space in a fashion akin to mainstream medical facilities. Currently, East Coast cannabis companies are moving along at a crawl hand-in-hand with legislation in states like Massachusetts and Florida. On that note, competition is fierce and cannabis jobs are slim.
Cannabis Industry Job Market Insights from Professionals
The best way to gain an understanding of the cannabis industry job market is to contact cannabis professionals working within emergent arenas of the industry. As such, market research shows that both cannabis focused technology companies and ancillary sales businesses are currently experiencing growth. To further our insight into these job sectors, M&F Talent contacted two Colorado-based businesses for a short Q and A session. To begin with, we reached out to Phil Smitten, Co-Founder of the software company Brytemap, to shed some insight into technology related positions. Secondly, we spoke with Aaron Perlman, VP of Sales for the Colorado Grow Company (CoGrowCo), about the ins-and-outs of sales oriented cannabis jobs. Here is what these gentlemen had to say:
Could you please tell me a little about your business and the company’s place within the emergent cannabis market?
Perlman: “CoGrowCo was originally conceived by its two owners Adam Gifford and Jason Barker as part of the dispensary scene in Durango, CO. Operating in the cannabis space, we quickly saw a demand for knowledgeable consultants and salespeople relating to ancillary products in lighting, insurance, technology, etc. Gifford and Barker brought me on board to spearhead a sales team focused on ‘turn-key’ services for dispensary jobs and cultivation operations, which is now our primary focus.”
Schmitten: “Brytemap is the cannabis industry’s most secure, advanced, and comprehensive cannabis ERP software solution from seed-to-sale. We offer a fully integrated resolution for cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries. All in one secure ERP package. Our goal is to reduce labor costs within cultivation centers and dispensaries by streamlining POS and seed-to-sale programs.”
Within the cannabis industry job market in general, where you see the greatest need for qualified candidates?
Perlman: “The marijuana business in general is lacking organized professionals in both sales positions and as project managers. The dispensary and cultivation segments are extremely disorganized. Therefore, we need some real professionals to come in and ‘lay the bricks of the industry.’ The hope is one day we can look back and proudly see how those bricks are positioned.”
Schmitten: “Brytemap is dedicated providing efficient, secure, and compliant solutions to our customers. This notion requires that our employees to not only understand the intricacies of the cannabis industry itself, but how our technology applies to it. Like most technical companies, we will have needs for technical support staff, solution architects, and sales representatives.”
As a cannabis business manager or owner, what sort of challenges do you face most frequently?
Perlman: “Again, lack of organization is an extremely problematic issue in the marijuana business. Also, dealing with other businesses, as well as employees in budtender jobs, we have seen a serious lack of follow through when it comes to remedial chores like phone calls and emails.”
Schmitten: “Right now, there aren’t many industry standards established. Also, we are seeing too many manual processes and a lack of automation—with this comes a lack of organization. This is an issue in recreational markets and others, such as the Pennsylvania medical marijuana industry.”
Do different geographies in the United States present unique challenges generating business?
Perlman: “Yes. CoGrowCo is fortunate enough to be able to sell our ancillary products and services across state borders. However, we are still essentially at the mercy of the industry’s development in certain geographies. State legislation is a road block in the execution of sales because many of our customers/leads aren’t sure if they will be receiving cultivation or dispensary licensing. Timing is everything in these situations, as those seen in the Pennsylvania medical marijuana space.”
Schmitten: “Geography in the US definitely presents unique challenges. Laws are constantly changing and differ from federal-to-state as well as state-to-state. Therefore, compliance is a huge issue with many of the businesses in the industry. As more and more states legalize cannabis, such as the Pennsylvania medical marijuana program, we are constantly having to educate ourselves and our customers of the specific requirements and the how they apply to everyone.”
What sort of advice would you have for individuals hoping to “break” into the cannabis industry on a professional level?
Perlman: “Who you know helps a ton. Do research into legitimate states with large markets such as California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. First develop good references and experience from these areas. After that, approach smaller markets as seen in states like Michigan, Maryland, and the Pennsylvania medical marijuana industry.”
Schmitten: “Research is probably the number one thing. Candidate must understand their skill-sets and how they would like to grow within the industry. There are a lot of positions available including cultivation, retail, and technical. It really depends on what the individual is interested in. That being said, the industry has evolved and will continue to become more mainstream. So a strong business acumen and ability to adapt will become very important.”
Where do you see the future of cannabis industry jobs in your specific field? Is there any cannabis training or education that you would recommend to industry hopefuls in your specific field?
Perlman: “The marijuana industry is getting very technological very quickly. This is where the most jobs will be created in the future. For job training, a general IT education and project management schooling will be able to go a long ways. Also, the industry is seeing a need for those with a science education. Because, there are constantly more ingenious methods being developed for altering the marijuana flower.”
Schmitten: “Technology is going to become more prevalent as the industry matures. We are seeing this in Colorado, California, and the Pennsylvania medical marijuana industry, The processes will become automated and standards will be implemented. Anyone getting into the industry should look to similar, established businesses and bring that knowledge to the cannabis industry.”
This article first appeared in the December 2017 / January 2018 edition of HydroLife Magazine.