Last Updated: 08/23/2019
Cannabis jobs in the United States are increasing as states legalize and decriminalize marijuana, and work to establish their regulations. If you are starting a job search in the legal cannabis industry, you need to know how to stay compliant in each state and what to search for on online job boards.
Jobs can focus on production, retail or management roles, and may also have a focus on medical marijuana or recreational marijuana. Typically, applicants must undergo background checks. You may not be able to work in the industry if you have felonies within the past five years especially if those are violent felonies or involve Schedule I or Schedule II drugs.
A study from Leafly.com reports 211,000 full-time jobs in the cannabis industry were created as of 2019. The best career advice for someone seeking a cannabis industry job is to keep informed about the constantly evolving state laws and regulations. The marijuana industry is fast growing, and new jobs and opportunities are being created every day.
The list below details some cannabis industry jobs available in states where marijuana is legal or decriminalized. Every job or role in a cannabis business requires a strict background check for every employee or partner, and for the person to be 21 years old. Some marijuana jobs are entry-level or part-time, but most require a strong background in the cannabis or CBD industry, and a strong understanding of cannabis products, medical cannabis, and the legal marijuana industry.
In addition to direct employment in a marijuana business, jobs are also available for attorneys, media and marketing firms, market research firms, accountants, consultants, outside sales representatives, tracking software developers, website developers, security, law enforcement, and others every time a new dispensary opens. Other roles are tucked into the agriculture industry, such as those related to equipment creation or rentals, pesticides, fertilizer products, etc.
Job benefits tend to be high in marijuana businesses, but one infraction of the business can lead to immediate company shutdown. There are also many other concerns that may not seem apparent. Having proper licenses that are renewed on time for drivers, proper training for retail employees, and displaying or selling products in the correct amounts are all important concerns.
It is important to note that state or federal laws can offer incentives to businesses, then suffer a backlash from the public opinion, which results in hasty withdrawals of promised benefits. The marijuana industry can also have negative ramifications on legal immigrant workers who are denied citizenship because their jobs are in the marijuana industry.
Cannabis is still illegal at the federal level, so there are always concerns connected to any job in the cannabis industry. Most state marijuana businesses require full disclosure about their employees and make employees sign documentation. While it may never be a problem, employees should know that by such disclosures they are admitting to breaking federal law.
These are just a few of the federally-regulated areas specific to marijuana businesses. These types of issues could affect business owners, employees, or job-seekers in the industry.
Entrepreneurs often do not get tax breaks because of IRS Section 280E, which requires large federal taxes. This rule was originally intended to break up illegal drug cartels but still applies to legal cannabis businesses. Learn more about other tax issues that may apply.
Banks also sometimes balk at opening accounts or giving loans to marijuana industry businesses even if the companies are legal. This can lead marijuana businesses to operate as cash-only, which puts employees at risk of robbery or income-related issues, such a not being paid on time or paid in full.
Marketing and media roles also have strict rules for advertising and sample programs. For example, it is illegal to advertise weed on Facebook or Instagram, or anywhere minors are located.
Along with the federal laws on disability access for a business, you may want to consider making your dispensary very disability and accessibility-friendly, as cannabis users find wider use for many medical conditions. Whether selling medical marijuana or recreational marijuana, or both, there are nuanced regulations to learn.
There are risks to the job just like any other. The federal Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) works to investigate these accidents and continues to learn more about the risks of marijuana industry jobs. If you get hurt on the job, you should find an attorney to ensure your injury in the cannabis industry receives fair compensation.
Generally, the federal government offers employees protection from discrimination through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, because the marijuana industry is considered illegal at the federal level, such federal employment protections may not be available.
Cannabis industry employees still need to obey employment drug testing, drug policies, and no-smoking policies. All the usual employment laws against harassment and discrimination still apply, as well as regulations on rejecting customers.
Even if the industry gives off a relaxed, pro-smoking vibe, cannabis businesses are still businesses, and many need to go the extra mile to stay compliant and avoid legal scandals. Hiring managers take job openings seriously, and applicants should take it just as seriously.
Prospective employees need to protect themselves from cannabis companies that do not follow regulations, and other job-related concerns. This industry is watched closely by the federal government, so slip-ups in business standards can cost employees much more than their jobs – you may be held liable for criminal charges if you are not careful.
Before entering the cannabis industry, you may want to consider speaking with a cannabis law attorney to understand compliance laws and where to turn if you feel a business action is illegal. An attorney can help review your contract, handle injuries on the job, and protect you from mistakes made by businesses.