8 Truly Unique Jobs in Cannabis
From master grower to marketing manager, some of the most sought-after jobs in cannabis are roles occupied by bold pioneers and survivors, carving their niche by shepherding a recently illegal product into a legal space. Here are some of the biggest, baddest positions.
Grow Facility COO
Typical salary: $120K–$250K
Job description: Managing a multilayer cannabis organization entails tracking sales, supervising employees and assuring quality control from seed to packaging to distribution. Additional responsibilities include sweating dramatic market-price swings, staying on top of tax laws and -- most important -- upholding regulatory compliance.
“Cannabis is a virgin industry, and public safety is an enormous issue. I made it my mission to be politically involved, and I cultivated relationships with state and local politicians. There is a growing concern with overregulating, so if you don’t stay active, this won’t succeed. It’s imperative to assure that legal cannabis is rolling out in a way that’s fair for business and safe for consumers.” -- Tiffany Goldman, cofounder/COO, The Health Center; Denver
Typical salary: $35K–$100K+
Job description: Account execs represent brands by creating strategies to place their products in dispensaries and maintain those accounts to develop long-term relationships. Sounds simple, but in a saturated cannabis market, firing off an occasional email blast is not going to cut it. Managing existing accounts and breaking new ground requires dedication, hard work, and constant travel.
“Dispensary owners are bombarded with choices, so an effective account executive must connect with retail partners and maintain those relationships. I spend a lot of time on the road, but I love interacting with my clients -- risk-taking entrepreneurs who have bet their livelihood on cannabis because they believe in this product." -- Jeff Kennedy, owner, A Greener World, and Colorado accounts manager, Toast; Denver
Typical salary: $100K+
Job description: A knowledgeable cannabis lawyer is instrumental in walking clients through the life cycle of starting and establishing a marijuana business, from fund-raising and employment to structuring and government compliance. Many ancillary businesses, such as tech and licensing companies, brands, multistate operators, and investors, are keeping cannabis-focused law firms in high demand.
“We are helping establish a state-legal and professional cannabis industry that didn’t exist not too long ago. I can’t remember the last time I wore a suit and tie to a meeting. I love the casual, collaborative cannabis culture.” -- Bryan Meltzer, partner, Feuerstein Kulick, LLP; New York
Marketing Field Manager
Typical salary: $40K–$70K
Job description: A marketing field manager wears many hats, but their primary role is creating brand awareness by connecting with consumers out in the field to build buzz for a company’s products. Organizing and running private dinners and 420-friendly yoga sessions are examples of events cannabis companies engage in while complying with legal cannabis’s tough regulations.
“Being in the field allows us to gauge and record real-time reactions from people using our product. This valuable test marketing ultimately helps inform the direction of our future products.” -- Gracie Munson, Toast; Denver
Typical salary: $60K–$150K
Job description: This is a perfect position for green-minded agriculturists with the skills and experience required to produce large-scale, commercial crops of world-class marijuana. But with great positions comes great responsibility. Cloning, climate, and light-cycle control; manipulating cannabinoids; water and nutrient scheduling; pest management; drying; and product development are just a few aspects of the job.
“Many farmers grow cannabis extremely well, but few can get a product looking the same way and smelling the same into the package every time. That’s what will become important moving forward, though many companies haven’t figured that out yet.” -- Drew Duval, master grower/partner, FloraCal; Sonoma, Calif.
Typical salary: $80K–$1M+
Job description: While owning a pot shop is a dream job for retail-minded entrepreneurs, the reality is not always sexy. Traditional components of retail management, including long hours, inventory, and accounting, are compounded by the headaches that accompany cannabis. Legal compliance and oversight are hugely important. States typically track inventory, and it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure their customers are allowed to be there. Since state laws often make it tough to get the word out, being a creative and ardent advocate for your business is key.
“An owner’s role goes beyond creating a solid shop. Since it is difficult to advertise conventionally, this job requires you to be a passionate mouthpiece who reflects the brand. There is a lot of teaching involved. If this suits you, it’s a rewarding business.” -- Josh Genderson, president and CEO, Holistic Industries; Washington, D.C.
Marijuana Edibles Chef
Typical salary: $40K–$90K
Job description: Part cook, part chemistry nerd, you must be able to combine your culinary and marijuana knowledge to create cannabis-infused foods such as gummies, chocolate, baked goods, and more.
“You definitely have to have a background in your business and passion for what you do, but the top skills are vision, perseverance, networking, and a deep understanding of the plant, the business, and the changing legal landscape. At the end of the day, marijuana is just another ingredient.” -- Jeff Danzer, chef and author, The 420 Gourmet: The Elevated Art of Cannabis Cuisine; Los Angeles
Typical salary: $31K–$42K
Job description: To guide customers and patients through cannabis consultations, facilitating discussions about their needs, their experience with cannabis, their difficulties, and their objectives. Then they help the customer find the right products. A budtender is often the first employee a consumer will make contact with, so it’s essential that they’re knowledgeable and make a good first impression.
“Your number one job is to educate the customers and to change the stigma of cannabis, showing that cannabis is there to help, not harm. Starting out, you don’t necessarily need to have a great knowledge of cannabis—you can learn that—but you do need to be a good listener, and have a positive attitude and lots of curiosity about people and the plant.” -- Lorena Medina, budtender, Herbarium Recreational Dispensary; Los Angeles