Medical and recreational marijuana has been at the forefront of election and investing news for many years now. Maybe your state just legalized marijuana or maybe your community has already embraced dispensaries as just another thriving business. Either way, the draw of entering this new employment market has caught your attention.
According to MJ Business Daily, the US industry is expected to employ about 160,000 people in 2018 which is approximately equal to the number of kindergarten teachers employed this year. By 2022, there is projected to be over 340,000 full time jobs in this field. That’s a 21% growth rate annually!
I recently started my own journey of joining this massive industry that still has to operate under the federal radar. Being in retail management for almost 25 years, the thought of joining a rapidly growing industry (instead of worrying if my brick and mortar locations would close) was a lure I couldn’t resist.
So for those of you considering making the same change I did, here is a little glimpse into what to expect.
Whole New World
The scariest part of this journey has been the uncertainty of working within a field that is federally illegal. Even my position within an education company that does not touch product, constantly comes up against the legality of marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug. Banking is hard or nearly impossible. Every single normal business transaction takes twice as long. Try getting a business license or rent office space with marijuana in your business name and you’ll know what I mean. In addition to all that, you may now be forced to operate in a cash only environment. That doesn’t even scratch the surface of licensing regulations if you want to cultivate or sell marijuana.
You will have to be comfortable with your decision from day one. The normal operating structure of your current company will soon feel like a luxury compared to the day and the life of a renegade marijuana business manager.
Talk of the Water Cooler
Once you have weighed the pros and cons, it’s time to put in your notice and make the switch. Be ready to be the latest gossip amongst your coworkers. Your boss will be confused as to why you would want to leave your chance at a bright future. Your coworkers will be a mix of envy and shock. Ultimately, they will all assume you must be a closet stoner. The judgement and questions will be endless. If you’re lucky you will acquire a cool new nickname before your two weeks are up. Being the VP of Weed was fun while it lasted.
Making a Difference
No matter how you view cannabis, there are millions of people who are finding real relief by using it to treat a variety of symptoms. From day one you will be a part of something that is greater than just a fast-growing industry. You will hear patient stories and meet real people who have had their lives changed by having legal access to cannabis. The feeling of helping people live better lives is something that I never felt in traditional retail. Well worth many risks in my opinion.
Genuinely Good People
Finally, you have made the switch and start making connections in the industry. This will be the easiest part of the transition. Those working in the cannabis space truly want to make a strong, cohesive industry and to do that they will welcome you with open arms. Every day I am surprised by how many people will answer questions, offer advice and mentor new companies struggling to get through the gauntlet of regulations. Instead of rejecting new businesses, they are intrigued by your new ideas and want to hear more.
This is a community of entrepreneurs who are working together to blaze a new trail. Maybe they are a little more chill than most but it is a welcome change compared to the cut throat nature of most industries. If you don’t believe me go to any cannabis conference and watch how many genuine handshakes and hugs are exchanged.
How to Get Started
It’s still the beginning of my personal journey into this field. So far it has been rewarding in many more ways than just financial and I would not change a thing. If you are considering jumping in feet first, I highly recommend investing in a professional course in order to have credentials on your resume. This will show future employers that you are serious about the industry and can speak to legal and medicinal aspects of marijuana. Smoking weed in college will not make you an expert in the eyes of any recruiter.
I hope your experience in the world of marijuana is as positive as mine has been. I look forward to hearing comments about your experience changing careers and joining this evolving industry!
Nikki is the COO and co-founder of Medical Marijuana 411. She has taken on the monumental task of working with medical and cannabis experts to bring accredited CME courses to medical professionals around the world. She is also an avid runner and has a passion for health, fitness and personal wellness. Nikki holds a MBA from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Science in from Humboldt State University.