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The CULTA Blog

How to Get Into the Cannabis Industry

budtender working behind the counter

Working in the cannabis industry can be a rewarding career. According to Investopedia, the US cannabis industry is valued at $13.6 billion dollars as of December 2021 -- and as more states legalize medicinal and recreational cannabis, this value is expected to rise. It’s estimated that the industry also provides 321,000 jobs! 

Aside from the economic impact, working in the cannabis industry is a great way to give back. In Maryland, where cannabis is legal for medicinal use, the industry helps thousands of patients find relief from chronic pain and other ailments. Often, medicinal cannabis helps patients where traditional medicine failed. For many, this is an inspiring reason to pursue a career working in the cannabis industry.

Careers in the cannabis industry are also perfect for creative individuals, entrepreneurs, and anyone who thrives in an exciting, fast-changing environment. From growing and cultivating to retail and marketing, there are many ways to explore your passions in the cannabis industry. For certain individuals, working in the cannabis industry can also be very lucrative. 

So, how can you find the perfect job in the cannabis industry or start a cannabis business of your own? Here are some helpful tips. 

Find out if cannabis is legal in your state

First, familiarize yourself with your state’s cannabis laws. As of January 2022, 20 US states and territories have legalized recreational cannabis:

  • Colorado
  • Washington
  • Alaska
  • Oregon
  • Washington, DC
  • California
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Nevada
  • Michigan
  • Vermont
  • Guam
  • Illinois
  • Arizona
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Virginia
  • New Mexico
  • Connecticut

However, many other states -- including Maryland, where CULTA is based -- have legalized cannabis for medicinal use. Patients in these states may use cannabis once they have received an evaluation from a doctor and completed various licensing or registration applications. 

Knowing the cannabis laws in your state can help you prepare to search for a job or open your business. Do your homework and be prepared. If you want to be involved in the cannabis industry but worry about potential legal issues, consider ancillary jobs where you won’t be handling any product, such as graphic design, social media, or digital marketing.

Find a part-time job or temporary position

Explore your options before you settle on your career in the cannabis industry. Remember, the cannabis industry is still young. Although you may have experience in retail or other business environments, there may be aspects of the cannabis industry that will surprise you. It can be very different compared to other industries.

Try to figure out what you’d like to do in the cannabis industry by working part-time jobs or temporary positions. These entry-level positions often require little to no experience. They’re a great way to learn more about cannabis and determine what type of work suits you best. Part-time jobs and temporary positions are also an excellent way to make connections. You’ll meet people who are already well-established in the cannabis industry, which can lead to more opportunities in the future. You may even meet a cannabis industry mentor!

Educate yourself about cannabis

As with any new career or business, education always helps. The cannabis industry is similar to wine, whiskey, or coffee. The more you know about your product -- as well as its history, farming, culture, uses, and variations -- the better. 

In the cannabis industry, experts known as “budtenders” are like sommeliers for cannabis. Even if you don’t want to become a budtender, having their level of knowledge will help your cannabis career. Talk to people at your local dispensary, listen to podcasts, and read cannabis blogs like CULTA's. As you become more educated, you’ll be in a better position to get hired or help your own business succeed. Consider learning about general business subjects as well, such as marketing and accounting. 

Follow dispensaries or brands on social media

If you have your heart set on working for a certain dispensary or brand, give them a follow and show them some love on social media. Many dispensaries and cannabis brands use social media networks, like Instagram or Facebook, to provide their followers with a behind-the-scenes look at the company culture and what it’s like to work there. Plus, social media networks like LinkedIn are usually the first place brands go to post job listings. 

Another bonus: If you apply for a job and get contacted for an interview, you can earn brownie points by referring to specific social media posts during your interview. So, how about you give us a follow?

Attend cannabis industry events

Like any industry, the cannabis industry has trade shows, conferences, and other professional events. If you live near a big city, especially in a state with legal cannabis, there are probably multiple industry events each year. Today, many events also offer livestreams so you can attend virtually.

Cannabis events are a great opportunity to meet like-minded individuals who are passionate about cannabis. You can also get to know different companies, products, and cannabis-related services. Some cannabis industry events may also include job fairs or other networking events for hiring new talent. 

Attending events can also give you an edge over the competition. You’ll be able to learn more about the industry and discover new trends. This knowledge can make you more appealing as a prospective employee or give you an edge if you’re planning to start your own cannabis business.

Contact a cannabis staffing agency

Did you know many staffing agencies are starting to work with the cannabis industry? If you’re struggling to get your cannabis industry career off the ground on your own, contact an agency or recruiter. 

While they may not have any positions available in your region, a staffing agency that specializes in working in the cannabis industry can still provide valuable help. They can answer questions, help you revise your resume, and give you tips for finding the right job.

No matter where your cannabis career path leads, we hope it’s fun, fulfilling, and rewarding. Good luck!