Get a Job

Yes, the explosion of the MMJ business means there's work out there, but are there long-term careers to be had?

Last week I ended with a note that legal cannabis sales between patients is exactly the kind of law we need to open up the marijuana business to the little guy.

That might be true, but for the little guy, there is no shortage of jobs to be had in the biz. All you have to do is search the Internet—something I have done quite a bit of since losing my job in the cannabis world. In fact, you don't have to look very hard at all—marijuana is big business now, and that means jobs.

Last fall, ArcView Market Research, a firm now owned by a cannabis investment group, estimated the nation's legal cannabis market at $1.5 billion, with rapid growth to $2.5 billion this year and $10 billion by 2018. Um, that's a 700 percent growth—a big deal. ArcView predicted Arizona's market would grow from $35 million last year, when dispensaries were just beginning to open, to just under $140 million this year.

Their report was aimed at investors, but where money flows, jobs follow. Thousands of jobs—bud tenders (retail sales associates), growers, managers, cooks, IT folks and more. Basically any job that exists in traditional retail exists in cannabis. And btw, don't expect to get a job as a grower, just because you grew some awesome bud in your extra bedroom. Commercial growing is a different animal—they're looking for farmers, not boutique growers.

Most jobs in the cannabis world are snapped up quickly, and a lot of them never make it to websites, but here are a few places to look for marijuana jobs (some in Arizona): This site seems kind of weak, but it has listings for chefs, operations managers, member consultants (bud tenders) and more. Most of the jobs are in Cali, Colorado and Washington. This one has quite a few jobs, but again, not as many as you might hope. A handful are in Arizona, but most are likely filled as they were posted more than a month ago. Again, mostly jobs in California, Washington and Colorado, but they list an ad sales job in Phoenix right now for Culture Magazine. Hmmm.

Now, I will offer a warning for anyone interested in a job in the cannabis world—it's volatile. My own experience is proof of that. In February, I took a job with a major Arizona cannabis retailer. It all seemed fine and dandy, at first. But in Arizona—and many other states—cannabis is built on investments. Most businesses in Arizona are struggling to make a profit after a year in business. Profitability doesn't always come quick.

A lot of cannabis businesses—and businesses in general—rely on seed money from investors to start. They convinced folks with deep pockets to inject money into consortiums that opened dispensaries. A lot of dispensaries opened this way—deep in debt.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the cannabis market. Far fewer people got medical marijuana cards in Arizona than most folks predicted. I've talked to people who were convinced that we would have more than 100,000 patients shopping in dispensaries by now. We have roughly half that.

So, yes, jobs in the cannabis world are fun. Lots of fun. But a lot of them are teetering on the brink of elimination. I say go forth and seek employment, but—especially if you are in Arizona—beware. This is a right to work state, which makes it a right-to-let-you-go-with-no-notice-or-explanation state.

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