Bloomin photo smoker.jpg

Cannabis Industry Not High On Hiring Smokers

 By Roger Malespin

September 16th 2018 photo/istock/Cabezonication

 With medical and recreational marijuana being legalized in states across the nation, there are no doubt plenty of stoners thinking that they can waltz into a their local dispensary and put down their years of smoking as job experience. Well, I’m afraid we have some bad news. Business owners, particularly the medical marijuana market, are not at all interested in hiring smokers for their operation. Anyone thinking about a job in the industry should know that the business owners are operating a legal business and will adhere to the usual hiring practices.

In Florida, whose medical marijuana market is in its early stages, business owners are looking to hire a range of different employees - from budtenders, to customer service reps, and accountants - but none of them will be your stereotypical stoner. A clean criminal record is essential to getting a foot in the door.

“For a lot of people at the entry level, they say they want to get into this industry because of a passion for cannabis,” said James Yagielo, founder of Miami-based medical marijuana recruiting firm HempStaff. “We usually tell them they should avoid bringing up any illegal activity regarding cannabis in an interview.”

Florida law requires all employees in the medical marijuana industry to undergo a thorough criminal background check. As with most other jobs, felony convictions are practically guaranteed to disqualify an applicant. Even misdemeanor marijuana convictions will likely mean rejection.

“We get hundreds of applications for every job opening we have,” said Michelle Terrell, spokesman for Wakefield, Mass.-based Curaleaf, which opened a dispensary in south Orlando in early August. “And maybe only 10 percent of those are qualified and meet the legal requirements.”

The industry has a relatively high turnover rate and a substantial open market for those who can pass the check. About 2,800 jobs were available in Florida at the end of 2017, and the number will almost certainly rise at the end of this year. Only Colorado and California have more job openings, but their markets have had more to time establish themselves. This could mean Florida will be the state with the most cannabis industry opportunity in the near future.

It should be noted that the strict screening seems to be in the medical marijuana industry only. States with recreational markets do not have such barriers, and studies have shown that in Colorado, over 40% of employees in recreational businesses are high on the job. But do not think this will last very long. Just as the alcohol industry was forced to ban employees from drinking on the job due to drunk driving, you can expect similar regulations adopted by the cannabis industry if these numbers are noticed by the state and federal government.

The job growth of the cannabis industry has started to spread to the east coast. Miami recently broke into the top 10 cities for cannabis jobs, joining Boston as the on eastern cities on the list. Chicago is the lone mid western entry, and the rest are on the west coast and Colorado.

 There are plenty of entry level positions for those without the necessary degrees, so if you are in one of these areas and looking for a change from a dead end job, why not try your hand in the cannabis industry? Just don’t talk about how much you smoke on the interview