Risks of Working in the Cannabis Industry

Risks of Working in the Cannabis Industry

Listing Cannabis Industry work on a resume when applying for work in non-cannabis industries can be risky. As someone who has work extensively in both cannabis and non-cannabis industries, I often wonder what people think when they see my resume outside of the cannabis industry. It’s easier for me to camouflage the positions I have worked because they are primarily consulting and compliance, and the companies I have worked for did not have names that make it obvious they are related to cannabis. At one point, I did shift from working in a dispensary and cultivation to working as an administrative assistant for a financial planner, but the position was gained through a friend who was leaving the position after many years of service.

The more time I spend in the industry, the more impossible it seems to get a position in another industry. Particularly challenging is any position working for, or contracted to, the government.  There are very specific hiring regulations when it comes to these positions, and even if you are working for a government contractor, working in the cannabis industry basically equates to admitting to smoking marijuana, even if you don’t. As much as I would love to go back to working in environmental engineering, I am fairly sure when I submit a resume, it goes directly into the wastebasket, no matter how good my cover letter is or how many years of experience I have.

While working in this industry, I have seen all sorts of individuals applying for positions with resumes that do not reflect work experience, and are subpar, poorly composed or completely deficient. Just because this is the cannabis industry, doesn’t mean employers are not expecting a professional resume. The days of the working week are numbered. Successful industry employees wear suits and ties, not tie-dye. Showing up to a job interview un-showered and in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops is unacceptable in any industry. Employers are looking for individuals who are willing to be professional and take responsibility for themselves and their work. They are not looking to hire someone who just wants a discount on weed.

This industry, like all retail and service industries, prove to be very challenging for single parents. Low wages mean that single parents will struggle to pay for daycare or after school care costs. Working hours in dispensaries (generally between 9 am and midnight Monday through Sunday in Denver) are challenging to maintain when you have a young child. Part-time hours can be erratic, creating inconsistency in schedules for children. Unless you have an incredible support network, single parents may want to pursue more consistent weekly positions with an ancillary company (packing, security, IT, testing labs) or processing and cultivation facilities.

When considering your next career move, be honest with yourself. While the concept of working in the marijuana industry is exciting, the reality is that it can be detrimental to long-term goals, if those goals are outside of the industry. Are you willing to step up and be a passionate cannabis industry steward? Do you have a support network that will help you along your path?  Are you willing to take the risks? How will those risks impact your family and your long-term goals? Those of us who decided to take the risk are left to consider the consequences of not being employable in other industries, and how that impacts long-term planning.


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