Florida’s budding medical marijuana industry has created a hunt for cannabis cultivators, budtenders, weed botanists, and people to fill several other new jobs.
Dispensaries are scouting locations across the state, and 147,000 people have signed-up to use the newly legalized drug. The developing new endeavor is quickly working to recruit workers who can develop, grow, and sell medical marijuana.
However, medical marijuana businesses have stated that stoners need not apply. According to business owners, a passion for smoking weed is a liability. Additionally, having a criminal record that involves drugs will disqualify most candidates.
Michelle Terrell said Curaleaf receives hundreds of job applications for every opening, and maybe 10 percent of those people are qualified and meet the legal requirements. Terrell is the spokesperson for Curaleaf, the Wakefield, Massachusetts-based company that opened a dispensary in Orlando early in August.
The cannabis industry is a high-stakes business. Companies are struggling to establish an early market share. Additionally, state regulators are strict and most business is conducted with cash transactions, leaving dispensaries stocked with thousands of dollars.
Nevertheless, workers believe it is worth it to jump into the marijuana business early.
According to a study from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics, the legal medical marijuana business in Florida is expected to generate $456 million in sales in 2018. This means that 2,800 jobs were filled at the end of 2017. The research group said that the marijuana employment in Florida will increase tenfold to 25,000 jobs.
These estimates will make Florida the third largest marijuana employer behind California and Colorado, which have fully legalized cannabis.
Knox Medical, based on South Florida, has a nursery in Apopka. They are aggressively hiring workers from accountants and office managers to chemists and customer service associates, according to company spokesman Scott Klenet. The jobs in the marijuana industry are not all about cannabis.
Klenet stated that they will need customer-experience specialists, drivers, and they will be expanding phone operations. What they discovered is that people come from all walks of life. Workers do not need any sort of certification or training to start at Knox, according to Klenet. However, workers need to have a clean criminal background and a commitment to the rules.
Many people seeking entry-level employment say they want to get into the cannabis industry due to a passion for marijuana, according to James Yagielo, the founder of the Miami-based medical marijuana recruiting firm HempStaff. “We usually tell them they shouldn’t bring that up in an interview.”
The pay in the medical marijuana industry is slightly higher than in other service industries, because employees have to meet more requirements to begin the job. Nursery workers start at $11 an hour, while budtenders make $15 an hour.
Catie Callahan left her six-year career with a national grocery chain to open the new Orlando Curaleaf dispensary. She earned her MBA while she was working retail. She chose to enter the business of medical marijuana to advance her management career.
In Florida, medical marijuana companies are required to be “vertically integrated.” This means “the same companies need to run everything from development and growing to transportation and sales. There are a limited number of companies that can operate in Florida, and thus far, 14 companies have registered.
Callahan said that she took a class on medical marijuana regulations last year and she has been waiting for an opportunity. She is 34 and says there is a stigma that comes with the marijuana industry, but she is not worried about being able to find a job in the future.
In states like Colorado that have legalized recreational cannabis, dozens of other businesses have blossomed apart from growing and selling, according to Sam Walch, who is an instructor at Florida Gulf Coast University. This fall he will begin teaching a class on medical marijuana.
“If we look to Colorado and California, there’s a big move to mix existing activities with cannabis. So yoga becomes ‘CannaYoga,’ wine-country tours now become grow house tours, and cooking classes are now open to a whole new spice.”
By Jeanette Smith
Orlando Sentinel: Florida’s medical marijuana industry is hiring, but stoners need not apply
Image Courtesy of Bryant Burpee – Used With Permission