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Why Some Marijuana Users Can’t Get Legal Pot Jobs

Topics: Career Advice
pot jobs

When it comes to breaking into the growing marijuana industry (see what I did there?), it’s one thing to be a part of the team, and another to be a partier on the team.

The legal cannabis industry gains ground in more states every election cycle. As of June 2018, there are nine states (plus D.C.) where recreational marijuana use is allowed, and 30 states where medicinal use is allowed.

But just as those in the beer or liquor industry can’t report to work under the influence, would-be cannabis workers can’t get high on the job.

Here’s what else to keep in mind if you want to work in weed.

The Marijuana Industry Is Booming

Legal marijuana sales exploded to $9.7 billion in North America in 2017, according to a report from Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics,” wrote a team at Business Insider in June. “That represents a 33% increase over 2016, shattering previous expectations about how quickly the marijuana industry could grow in the face of federal prohibition.”

“The report also predicted the legal marijuana market will reach $24.5 billion in sales — a 28% annual compound growth rate — by 2021, as more state-legal markets come online,” they added.

But getting a marijuana job can be difficult, especially if your own personal history with cannabis isn’t too clean.

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Finding Legal Work in an Illegal Industry is Tricky

Working in cannabis isn’t just sitting around smoking all day, even in the most relaxed of work environments. Ultimately, you still need to get your work done.

That said, much of the industry is turning a blind eye to an impaired workforce.

“A recent study published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine finds that a large percentage of those employed in the businesses of growing and selling weed are getting high either before work at some point during business hours — risking both their safety and that of their co-workers,” wrote Mike Adams, who covers cannabis news at Forbes.

But even in states where marijuana is legal for recreational use, it’s still illegal according to federal law. So if your pot job isn’t your only job, be aware that your other employer could still drug test you.

Felony Convictions May Disqualify Applicants

If you’ve gotten a felony conviction for something — anything — you likely will need to disclose it on your job application. (Yes, even if that felony was marijuana-related and you’re looking to get hired in the green industry.) And that conviction could mean that you might not get hired.

In Florida, where medical marijuana was legalized, “many of these [medical marijuana] businesses are simply refusing to hire marijuana users and people with drug-related blemishes on their record — regardless of their qualification,” wrote Adams.

As a result, only about 10 percent of applicants were qualified, per the Orlando Sentinel.

What it boils down to is that pot jobs are still, you know, jobs. A felony conviction may disqualify you. And, even if you get the job, dedication and job performance are just as important as if you were working anywhere else.

For more on the future of the legal marijuana industry, read PayScale’s report, Jobs in Emerging Industries.


Do you work in the cannabis industry? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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