- Photo courtesy of Dr. Jolly's. Design by Wyatt Gaines.
As a weed columnist, the most frequent question I hear is "How the hell did you get this job? Of whom do you have compromising photos that allowed this to happen, 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 in it?" (My answer: "Practice"—until I remember that's the punch line to a joke about how to you 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 required in Oregon if you have a position requiring you to handle cannabis, even briefly. It's easy to study for and obtain: Get 70 percent or better and you've passed, and you take the test online. (There are no extra points for doing so while high.) It costs $100 and virtually any growing/trimming/dispensary job will require one. This link can get you set up: http://www.oregon.gov/olcc/marijuana/Pages/mjworkerpermit.aspx
Now that the Gubbermint done certified you as qualified to handle the jazz tobacco, it's time to start finding you a "ganja gig." (Note: It's not called that.) Just as you would when seeking a non-cannabis position, start with networking—i.e. meeting people in the cannabis industry. Avoid trade shows; most are overhyped and under perform. (To wit, 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.
Did you know Facebook is good for activities other than telling your small-minded racist friends from high school how deeply you disagree with their support for Trump, or watching videos of kittens and puppies? It's true! There are groups that list both jobs, and the people seeking them. I'm partial to this one: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1491830827774510/
There are 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, Portland-based greenforcestaffing.com, or thcstaffinggroup.com.
Never stop learning. Seek out webinars, blogs and websites that cover cannabis. We are discovering more about the plant every day, and simply being a partaker on the daily 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.
But make sure this is indeed the field you want to work in. Growers, processors, dispensaries and edible makers face restrictive and expensive regulations and fees. Budtenders rarely make more than $15 per hour, if that, and dissuade yourself now that you will be getting high all day while working. 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," he replied. "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 imbibers or not.