As the contemporary cannabis space begins its maturation from infancy to adolescence, its evolutionary changes arise out of political, financial, and geographical influences. The marijuana job market is also directly manipulated by these constraints.

Along this line of thought, different geographies of the current cannabis industry are experiencing the growing pains of adolescence in disparate and novel fashions.

To succeed, marijuana industry professionals and hopefuls alike must adapt to the challenges put forth in an ever-dynamic, rapidly-growing vocational climate.

Marijuana Goes Mainstream

As an example, while California contains the most long-standing marijuana-based economy in the US, the industry is now undergoing a complete overhaul due to the passage of Proposition 64 and the opening of a recreational marketplace.

These changes will bring with them strict government regulations on cultivation operations and dispensaries, creating thousands of jobs that include W2 forms and income taxes.

California is an absolute boon for cannabis industry professionals and hopefuls, as cannabis businesses in the Golden State now must develop branded products that must compete in a normalized, regulated marketplace.

Colorado, as well as eastern states, have their own challenges with respect to employment opportunities in the cannabis space. Residents and politicians of Colorado had the foresight to develop and encourage an industry that is now fully accredited and functional, while providing respectable jobs for a large portion of the population.

While the Colorado cannabis job market is no longer experiencing the sort of growth seen in other areas, there are still excellent employment opportunities throughout the state.

Finally, looking at novel markets in East Coast states such as Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, industry frontrunners are suit-and-tie businesspeople focused on professionalizing the cannabis space in a fashion akin to mainstream medical facilities.

Currently, the East Coast marijuana job market is moving along at a crawl, hand-in-hand with slow-moving legislation in states like Massachusetts and Florida—competition is fierce and job opportunities are slim

At Hydrolife, we feel that the best way to gain an understanding of the cannabis job market is to contact industry professionals working within emergent arenas of the industry.

To this end, market research shows that both cannabis-focused technology companies and ancillary sales businesses are currently experiencing growth.

To further our insight into these job sectors, we reached out to Phil Smitten, co-founder of software company Brytemap, to shed some insight into technology-related positions.

Secondly, we spoke with Aaron Perlman, vice-president of sales for the Colorado Grow Company (CoGrowCo), about the ins-and-outs of ancillary sales roles in the cannabis space.

Hydrolife: Tell us about your business and the company’s place within the emergent cannabis market.

Perlman: CoGrowCo was originally conceived by its two owners, Adam Gifford and Jason Barker, as a recreational dispensary in Durango, CO. Operating in the cannabis space, we quickly saw a demand for knowledgeable consultants and salespeople relating to ancillary products in lighting, insurance, technology, etc.

Gifford and Barker brought me on board to spearhead a sales team focused on turn-key services for dispensaries and cultivation operations, which is now our primary focus.

Schmitten: Brytemap is the cannabis industry’s most secure, advanced, and comprehensive cannabis ERP software solution from seed-to-sale. We offer a fully integrated resolution for cannabis growers, processors, and dispensaries. All-in-one secure ERP package. Our goal is to reduce labor costs within cultivation centers and dispensaries by streamlining point-of-sales (POS) and seed-to-sale programs.

HL: Within your company or the industry in general, where you see the greatest need for qualified candidates?

Perlman: The marijuana business in general is lacking organized professionals in both sales positions and as project managers. The industry is extremely disorganized and we need some real professionals to come in and lay the bricks of the industry. The hope is one day we can look back and proudly see how those bricks are positioned.

Schmitten: Brytemap is dedicated providing efficient, secure, and compliant solutions to our customers. This notion requires that our employees not only understand the intricacies of the cannabis industry itself, but how our technology applies to it. Like most technical companies, we will have needs for technical support staff, solution architects, and sales representatives.

"As more and more states legalize cannabis, we are constantly having to educate ourselves and our customers of the specific requirements and the how they apply to everyone."

HL: As a cannabis business manager or owner, what sort of challenges do you face most frequently?

Perlman: Again, lack of organization is an extremely problematic issue in the marijuana business. Also, dealing with other businesses, we have seen a serious lack of follow through when it comes to remedial chores like phone calls and emails.

Schmitten: Right now, there aren’t many industry standards established. Also, we are seeing too many manual processes and a lack of automation. With this comes a lack of organization.

HL: Do different geographies in the US present unique challenges generating business?

Perlman: Yes. While CoGrowCo is fortunate enough to be able to sell our ancillary products and services across state borders, we are still essentially at the mercy of the industry’s development in certain geographies. State legislation is a road block in the execution of sales because many of our customers/leads aren’t sure if they will be receiving cultivation or dispensary licensing. Timing is everything in these situations.

Schmitten: Geography in the US definitely presents unique challenges. Laws are constantly changing and differ from federal-to-state as well as state-to-state. Therefore, compliance is a huge issue with many of the businesses in the industry. As more and more states legalize cannabis, we are constantly having to educate ourselves and our customers of the specific requirements and the how they apply to everyone.

HL: What sort of advice would you have for individuals hoping to break into the cannabis industry on a professional level?

Perlman: Who you know helps a ton. Do research into legitimate states with large markets such as California, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado. Once you develop good references and experience from these areas, then approach smaller markets as seen in states like Michigan and Maryland.

Schmitten: Research is probably the number one thing. Candidates must understand their skill-sets and how they would like to grow within the industry. There are a lot of positions available including cultivation, retail, and technical.

It really depends on what the individual is interested in. That being said, the industry has evolved and will continue to become more mainstream. So, a strong business acumen and ability to adapt will become very important.

HL: Where do you see the future of cannabis industry jobs in your specific field? Is there any vocational training or education that you would recommend to industry hopefuls in your specific field?

Perlman: The marijuana industry is getting very technological very quickly—this is where the most jobs will be created in the future. For job training, a general IT education and project management schooling will be able to go a long way.

Also, the industry is seeing a need for those with a science education as there are constantly more ingenious methods being developed for altering the marijuana flower.

Schmitten: Technology is going to become more prevalent as the industry matures. The processes will become automated and standards will be implemented. Anyone getting into the industry should look to similar, established businesses and bring that knowledge to the cannabis industry.