Skip to main content
The Purple Lotus Guide to Cannabis Careers
June 17, 2021

The Purple Lotus Guide to Cannabis Careers

Making an honest living in the weed business is no longer the stuff of myth. Want proof?
Here’s a survey of the numerous, varied careers available in legal cannabis today. 

Before humans even had a name for THC, we knew we liked how it made us feel.

By the same token, the concept of a career in cannabis is not something new to the legal age. But whereas before the entirety of the “industry” operated outside of the law — not exactly the same demands you’d find at a normal 9 to 5 — the dawn of legalization has ushered with it a tidal wave of new, legitimate employment opportunities for candidates of all stripes.

With federal legalization potentially on the precipice of becoming a reality, recreational cannabis is presently legal in 17 states (plus Washington, D.C. and Guam). And business is booming.

It’s honestly difficult to overstate just how hot the cannabis job market in the U.S. is at the moment. According to a Leafly report published earlier this year, the U.S. currently supports 321,000 full-time cannabis jobs. 

“To put that in perspective,” notes the reports’ authors, “in the United States, there are more legal cannabis workers than electrical engineers. There are more legal cannabis workers than EMTs and paramedics. There are more than twice as many legal cannabis workers as dentists.”

As a result, the time has arguably never been better to consider a career in the legal cannabis industry.

However, for many prospective workers, there may be a poor understanding of just how many different kinds of jobs are required to keep dispensaries, farms, distributors, etc. all humming. They know about farmers, yes, and possibly budtenders too — both amazing and utterly crucial pieces of the puzzle, no doubt — but do they know that those gigs are but two pieces of a far larger puzzle as well?

The easiest way to talk about careers in cannabis today may honestly be to try and think of any specialties that do not translate naturally to the weed business.

For example: those with experience in the fields of construction, plumbing, electrical wiring, security systems, and real estate are all in high-demand as many companies continue to expand their footprints and reinforce their operations. The same goes for those in roles necessary to any proper business plan: accountants, lawyers, receptionists, custodians, and sales and marketing specialists.

Naturally, there are some who hold the above positions but have opted to tailor their expertise to more specifically focus on cannabis.

Thus, a new class of cannabis-focused lawyers, cannabis-focused accountants etc. are now also emerging onto the scene, providing a blueprint for prospective hopefuls in those fields to quickly set themselves apart from the competition. The same goes for security and drivers (both delivery and transportation).

On the other hand, as a result of legalization, an entirely new crop of careers has also been created.

First up are the aforementioned farmers, who are undeniably a lifeblood of the whole enterprise. While being a cannabis cultivator is no easy career to choose, a fierce devotion to terroir, community, and a commitment to growing the best cannabis in the world makes cannabis farmers a revered and respected lynchpin of the industry.

Oh, and they are also employers!

Sure, much of the work is seasonal, but from trimmers to transportation, each cannabis farm is also providing jobs in addition to serving up tasty flower. Ditto for cannabis manufacturers, who require a whole different set of qualified staffers to create the drinks, dabs, balms, and more that we know and love.

From positions on assembly lines to quality-testing to ice hash processing experts, there’s a ton of folks finding their true calling in the world of cannabis manufacturing right now.

The same can be said for cannabis marketing efforts overall, where traditional marketing blockades continue to prevent legal brands from taking advantage of platforms like Facebook and prime-time television commercials. As a result, innovative solutions (and the sales smarties who can think them up) remain an extremely hot commodity.

In a slightly similar vein, those with big ideas for how the industry should evolve will find any number of positions in related non-profits, lobbying outfits, and with a wide array of lawmakers on the local, state, and national level all eyeing cannabis reform at present.

Of course, no survey of cannabis careers could possibly be complete without the job that truly links the flower to the customer: budtenders. While dispensaries are absolutely a team effort (one which also includes knowledgeable buyers and trusted security staff), it is budtenders who are often ultimately entrusted with the responsibility of getting the right thing into customers’ hands.

That doesn’t mean folks should be scared to apply though!

The beauty of being a budtender is that there’s no formal education required — just a willingness to learn and a certain degree of empathy. That latter part is especially important, given the customers you’ll meet as a budtender range from the newly 21-year-old excited to buy their first preroll to the terminally sick seeking some form of relief. And that could just be one ten-minute stretch of the day.

Combining a knack for retail sales, a willingness to stay up-to-date on all of the latest trends in cannabis, and superb active listening skills, budtending can be a majorly fulfilling profession for those who desire to help people in need while collecting a paycheck. As a bonus, you’ll also likely meet some awesome colleagues and score a nice discount while you’re at it.

Whatever you may choose, just remember: if the job you want in cannabis doesn’t exist, that’s probably just because you haven’t created it yet.