The Marijuana Business: Breaking into the Cannabis Industry


Have you been considering getting into the cannabis industry? Well, you would not be alone. The marijuana industry is booming in states that have legalized recreational use, and a number of states are currently moving in the right direction to legalize as well. If you are hoping to get in on the Green Rush, there are a few things you should be aware of before you make the leap.

The cannabis industry is growing rapidly, much like the focus of the field. Between 2013 and 2014, the industry grew by 74%, netting $2.7 billion. It is reported that by 2019, cannabis will rake in $11 billion of legal revenue. There are at least ten more states considering the full recreational legalization of marijuana, and there are four that currently allow it. Medicinal cannabis is also a growing industry.

Location, Location, Location

While the “location, location, location” sentiment is true with all business, it’s especially true in the cannabis industry. Since the federal government still considers it a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and other dangerous drugs, you have to be fully aware of the laws of your state, county, and yes, even your town.

Legality of Cannabis in the US

What Jobs are There?

Perhaps you’re not quite ready to open your own dispensary and pay the myriad of licensing fees. Maybe you need a little experience doing smaller jobs and learning the industry. Well, there are a number of jobs that the cannabis industry has opened, some of which you may have never considered!

1. Budtending

Budtending is exactly what it sounds like. It is the equivalent to bartending, except you would work in a dispensary. This job comes with tips, so be prepared to stuff your wallet with some extra cash!

2. Tourism

Tourism has skyrocketed in states that have legalized marijuana, especially the two states that were first to do it: Colorado and Washington. Take advantage of the new demographic and get into tourism, specializing in cannabis and helping people plan the perfect ganja-laced vacation.

3. Administration & Retail

If you have a background in administration or retail, but you’re looking for something a little new, consider the cannabis industry. It’s new, it’s booming, and you might learn enough to move up the ladder later on in your career.

4. Glass & Tech Merchant

Marijuana requires something to use it, right? You can get into the cannabis industry by specializing in glass and technology such as vaporizers, butane torches, etc. Whether you want to open your own head shop or blow glass, there are jobs in this area.

5. Web Design

Are you more practiced in technology than retail? That doesn’t mean you can’t break into the field! Dispensaries, head shops, and organizations are in need of web and software designers to create websites and maintain them. You would be able to access information in the cannabis industry without actually having to deal with people too much.

6. Concentrate Processing

With a background in chemistry, you would be in the perfect position to become a concentrate processor. The process of making marijuana concentrate involves hazardous chemicals such as butane or propane, and the use of heavy machinery. For those reasons, only the most qualified people should work in labs. Your job would be to keep quality control and keep yourself (and the business) safe. This is a job that is not for the faint of heart, but offers you the opportunity to do some chemistry each and every day. If that is your passion, concentrate processing may be for you.

7. Edible Baker/Chef

Edibles are becoming increasingly popular, and if you love food and marijuana, making edibles might be the perfect job for you! The most important part of this job is making sure that doses stay consistent in all of your products.

8. Security

With sensitive product comes the necessity to protect it. Security guards are needed in dispensaries, both medicinal and recreational. Protecting cannabis can be a risky job, and a background in security definitely will help your chances of breaking into this field.

9. Reviewing

Yes, strain reviewers are a real thing, just like movie critics or gastronomic experts. There is a need for people that are able to communicate the psychoactive effects, the flavor/aromatic profile, and the appearance of different strains. The ability to effectively describe and write about all of those things is pertinent if you want to break into this field.

10. Trimming

Getting paid to trim sounds like a dream, but keep in mind that you have to be perfect. If you enjoy working with plants and you’re confident that you will not lose any product, trimming might be a great way for you to get into the cannabis industry.

11. Delivery

Marijuana delivery is going to be a reality for recreational states, and it is already a reality with medicinal marijuana. The need for pot couriers will increase as the field grows.

12. Seed Harvesting

Harvesting seeds can be difficult, so it helps if you have experience. There are also a number of laws and loopholes that make this career rather difficult. However, if you are willing to work your way around stubborn laws, on both the state and federal levels, seed harvesting is a good way to break into the marijuana business.

13. Farming

Crop farming is absolutely the most important part of the cannabis industry, because without farmers, there is no crop! If, for you, getting your hands in the soil and growing the plants is the most drawing part of the cannabis industry, you should certainly consider farming. Dispensaries need crop to work with, so this field will only grow over time.

Do I Need a Higher Education?

For some positions in the cannabis industry, a higher education will certainly help. For example, if you are considering a dangerous job like concentrate processing, you should have a background in chemistry. This is important not only for your own safety, but for your coworkers’ safety and for those consuming the product you are producing. However, a higher education is not necessary for a number of positions in the cannabis industry.

Reviewing, farming, delivering, harvesting, trimming, budtending, and security are all examples of positions that would not require a degree of any kind. Being educated in marijuana, however, is pertinent. If you are not, you should start doing some research before you try and break into the business.

If you want to get a higher education in cannabis, there are colleges that are starting to acknowledge the Green Rush and are offering classes to help people break into the industry. For example, Denver University recently added a class for cannabis journalism. Certifications through educational organizations such as Clover Leaf UniversityTHC University, and the Cannabis Career Institute are also available.

So What are You Waiting For?

If you have been wanting to break into the marijuana business, but you were not sure how, now you should have a grasp on a few of the many career opportunities in this new and growing field. There are a number of jobs available for people with all different kinds of backgrounds, as well as educational opportunities. You do not have to work as a dispensary owner to get into this rapidly expanding industry. You do not have to pay thousands of dollars in licensing fees. You just have to have some ambition and the flexibility to relocate. If you are willing to work and willing to move somewhere that marijuana is legal, you are opening the door to a long and thriving career path.


Jheri is a successful freelance writer and cannabis enthusiast from Michigan. She is currently writing her novel and a number of short stories, as well as promoting cannabis for Smoke Weed and Medical Marijuana Cure. Her office is based in Denver, CO.

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