5 things to consider when joining the cannabis industry
By Dan Cohn
There’s never been a more exciting time to get involved in the cannabis industry. More states than ever have legalized recreational use for adults and business is booming. Like any job or new opportunity, you want to put your best foot forward to land the ideal position. In order to get a leg up in the process, here are some important things to keep in mind that will help prepare you for a fulfilling career in cannabis.
1. UNDERSTAND THE PLANT
You wouldn’t get a job selling cars if you didn’t know they had tires and a steering wheel. Having knowledge of basic plant biology and growing practices will get you ahead in your search for cannabis work.
Daniel Wendling, senior grader at Big Tree Grading, offers some topics to brush up on, saying, “I think you should know about how it’s grown, about light cycles, even the difference between the vegetative cycle and flower cycle.”
The plant’s makeup of elements like cannabinoids and terpenes is also good, basic information, it will benefit you to know how to read a Certificate of Analysis (CoA) from a testing laboratory. Growers and budtenders especially should have this foundation, but it will also benefit writers covering cannabis topics, doctors prescribing medicinal cannabis and even advertisers working with cannabis brands. The more you know about the plant, the better decisions you can make in your field of choice.
Most importantly, make sure you maintain a willingness and openness to learn.
2. HOW TO SERVE A CUSTOMER
Being able to listen and offer solutions is a major skill that will help you in any aspect of the business. With the colorful history of the industry, you need to have a desire to work with people. Luckily, it seems to attract friendly, passionate and enthusiastic people, and that makes working together more interesting and fun. Wendling says, “You’re always a customer or a client, one way or the other. Almost every position that I’ve seen in the industry is going to include some kind of customer service, so that’s something you really have to learn.”
Monica Barry, WA General Manager of Tamerlane Training, adds, “Customer service is what makes any business successful. Without it your business will not scale. The cannabis industry is no different. Providing value, integrity and a healthy relationship with each client is essential.” Barry goes on to reiterate that “Partners in the cannabis industry have proven time and again to be some of the best people to work with.”
3. BE PREPARED TO WORK HARD
Jhavid Mohseni, CEO of Aperon Corporation, says it takes some dedication and determination, as well as a ‘can-do’ attitude and willingness to rise above challenges to focus on solutions and maintain a ‘growth’ mindset.
“People getting involved in a nascent burgeoning industry should be prepared to do what it takes,” says Mohseni. “As an entrepreneur you’re going to have to be ready to solve problems that shouldn’t exist or wouldn’t in defined established industries. Become an asset to the company and business you’re applying for.”
Eric Cozens, Big Tree CEO, adds that to be successful, it takes, “hard work, flexibility and good communication skills.”
4. RESPECT THE HISTORY THAT GOT US HERE
Most people in the cannabis industry love cannabis. It was built on the passion and determination of those who fought for its legalization. It emerged from generations of prohibition to become embraced by medical and legislative communities and pop culture in general. Building on that legacy and progressing it forward should drive you to contribute in your own way. Representing something that was worth years of trial and determination adds to the benefit of working in this business. When skills combine with passion, happiness is inevitable.
Mohseni says, “The industry is made up of many people with varied backgrounds. All collaborating to establish an industry that is sustainable, equitable and profitable.”
5. KNOW YOUR PATH
At the end of the day, you should love your job, and more often than not that’s easy to do in this industry! The cannabis industry isn’t just about budtending; there are paths for people from all backgrounds. For example, if selling your favorite strain isn’t your calling, maybe you can grow it! If you’re better at connecting people than raising plants, look into becoming a broker or consultant between companies in the supply chain. If what you care about is people having the right to cultivate and use cannabis for medicinal or recreational use, volunteer with policymakers or advocate for legalization. Playing to your strengths will land you in the perfect position.
For those unsure how to transition their preexisting skills into a cannabis centered career, Cozens suggests taking a class on the very subject.
At the end of the day, there is no secret to success for cannabis professionals, but Barry left us with some sound advice that “being authentic and working with integrity” will aid you in achieving success.
Dan Cohn is a drummer, audio engineer and music aficionado who enjoys using cannabis to fuel thoughtful conversation, critical listening and relaxing. The first time he made weed brownies, he cut the whole pan into six mega brownies and ate one before a friend's 18th birthday bowling party. He didn't make it to the party.