Employment inquiries rank among the most common messages we receive. We’re passionate about the work we do and we appreciate that so many people want to join the team. As the medical marijuana industry grows and becomes better understood and appreciated in our culture, interest in cannabis-related careers is greater than ever before. To help you navigate this emerging landscape, we’ve put together some tips and strategies based on our experience that we hope you’ll find helpful.
Anyone interested in employment in the medical marijuana field would be wise to begin by developing a strong understanding of the medical marijuana program(s) they wish to participate in. A good starting point is to educate yourself about the laws and regulations medical marijuana businesses operate under in your area. This knowledge will be critical at all stages of the job search process. Knowing the laws and following the latest news will shape your understanding of how local cannabis businesses operate. It will also prepare you to interact in an informed way with contacts working in the field.
Once you’re up to date on the law itself, you’ll want to learn more about the businesses themselves. Knowing who the operators are in your area will help you focus your search and identify networking opportunities and available positions. It’s important to recognize that every medical marijuana program is unique, which shapes the employment landscape. In Washington, D.C., for example, the law permits only 5 dispensaries and 10 cultivation centers, which means that staffing is fairly limited. Understanding the size and scope of the markets that interest you can help to identify where opportunities may or may not exist.
Setting Realistic Expectations
If you’re seeking employment in the medical marijuana field, an important issue to consider is the nature of the work itself and the role you’d like to play. Dispensaries are retail workplace environments, and despite the unique products sold, they are generally very similar to other retail businesses when it comes to staff roles and responsibilities. Cultivation centers, on the other hand, perform agricultural and light manufacturing/processing work. In either case, you can expect medical marijuana businesses to observe strict protocols at all times and require employees to perform their duties with a high level of professionalism.
A strong interest and knowledge base surrounding medical marijuana is common among applicants for positions in the industry, but the true measure of success and satisfaction in the field will be your ability to function effectively in a fast-paced work environment. Accountability and compliance are critical priorities when following strict regulations, which means cannabis businesses seek candidates with a proven track record in professional work environments. Dispensaries, for example, will often prioritize applicants with strong retail sales experience. Although the idea of working with cannabis is exciting to many, our experience is that one must genuinely enjoy performing traditional retail and customer service responsibilities in order to be successful in the dispensary environment.
Making a Strong Impression
We receive a high volume of employment inquires that far exceeds the number of positions that become available at our facilities. As a result, our expectations are high and only the most professional inquires are likely to be considered. A brief, well-written cover letter is a great way to introduce yourself and demonstrate how your previous work experience has prepared you for success in the medical marijuana field. Your resume must be up-to-date, well formatted, and free of errors. Professional experience in areas like retail, agriculture, and health care will stand out, but be sure to include a concise summary of responsibilities performed in recent positions you’ve held.
Due to the number of inquires most cannabis business receive regarding available positions, it’s absolutely critical that you proofread and perfect any communications you send to the prospective employer. For a posted position, you’ll need to read and follow all instructions carefully to ensure that a careless error doesn’t drop your resume to the bottom of the pile. Disregarding instructions such as a “do not call” request demonstrates poor attention to detail, which is the opposite of what a professional dispensary is looking for.
When interacting or interviewing with a prospective employer in the medical marijuana industry, it’s important to present yourself professionally just you would when applying for work in any other field. Although cannabis businesses vary in terms of style, décor, and dress code, keep in mind that many are interested in elevating public perceptions of the cannabis industry. Demonstrating intelligence and professionalism in addition to a passion for serving patients will make a good first impression.
Supporting Your Medical Marijuana Program
If you use marijuana for medical reasons, we recommend participating in your medical marijuana program and supporting the businesses in your area. Although having a medical marijuana card is not a prerequisite for employment, it will give you the opportunity to see the dispensary up close and learn what a well-run facility looks like. Getting to know other patients and staff will broaden your perspective and may be a great way to learn about employment opportunities that aren’t yet listed.
Medical marijuana programs like the District’s need the support and participation of patients in order to grow and improve their services. By joining the program and visiting the dispensary, you’re contributing to the growth of the industry you hope to become a part of. Being an active member of the patient community is a great way to form relationships that could assist in your search for employment. For example, if you played a key role in helping refer other patients to the dispensary, it’s likely that staff will take notice and look for further ways to get you involved.
Working with the cannabis plant and the patients who rely on it for health and wellness is a deeply rewarding experience. As public understanding and support for medical marijuana continues to grow, industry professionals play a critical role in combatting stigma and setting a standard of excellence for others to follow. We applaud the passion of those pursuing employment in this important field and wish you the best of luck.