Finding Your Future in the Emerging Marijuana Industry

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Image credit above: An expanded cannabis market means jobs in more than plant-contact roles. (Cody Boston | Flat Earth)

During the technology boom of the turn of the century, Dave Morrissey worked for a company that sold network hardware at wholesale prices.

Morrissey decided to apply this same business model to cannabis when Missouri entered the medical marijuana market in 2018 and started a systems integration company, Cannabis Experts.

“Our job is to bring pricing to distributors and provide integration services to basically bring (dispensaries and cultivators) better pricing for their builds and all the components they can spend a dollar on,” Morrissey said. .

For example, if someone is building a dispensary and is looking for glass cases, Morrissey will put the dispensary in touch with its partners who sell cases and the dispensary can choose a supplier with competitive prices.

Cannabis Experts is one of many ancillary businesses that stand to benefit from an expanded cannabis market after Missouri voters approved recreational marijuana.

People tend to think only of cannabis-related jobs, such as dispensaries, growers, and extractors. But there are plenty of non-plant contact businesses and career opportunities in cannabis.

Constitutional Amendment 3 was passed in Missouri yesterday and legalized the consumption and use of marijuana by adults over the age of 21.

Missouri’s expansion into a larger recreational market could also mean new business opportunities in your field.


A graph shows a sharp increase in cannabis-related jobs since 2017.
Legal cannabis jobs can be anything from a budtender to an accountant. (Screenshot | Laminated)

Auxiliary Opportunities

Chris Day is the CEO of Gateway Proven Strategies, a global cannabis market research and advisory firm. He saw the cannabis market grow and create new jobs in states as they legalized marijuana.

“States that choose to enter the cannabis market create a ton of opportunity, a ton of jobs,” Day said. “That’s why cannabis as an industry is one of the fastest and biggest job creators in the country right now.”

The man in the white shirt smiles at the camera
Chris Day has seen the cannabis industry grow in states and countries around the world. (Courtesy | Gateway Proven Strategies)

A recent Cannabis Jobs Report from Leafly revealed that more than 107,000 new jobs were created by the cannabis market over the past year, bringing the national total to 428,059 full-time jobs. This includes both plant and non-plant work.

The same report predicts that a fully legal (recreational) US cannabis market would support between 1.5 million and 1.75 million jobs.

Cannabis is exciting because it’s a new industry.

But Day said it’s not much different from any other industry.

“It’s been maligned for so long that I think people are so focused on very specific plant roles,” Day said.

The cannabis industry needs people in finance, accounting, marketing, brand compliance and supply chain logistics, Day said, listing many other job skills needed. .

“Every one of these factories touching the jobs that are being created (and) every retail operation that is open, has an army of people behind it helping to expand it,” Day said.

Not only will a legal market create “thousands and thousands” of jobs, but Day said it will create additional opportunities for spinoffs.

Even so, greater opportunity does not necessarily mean greater social equity.

Prior to the election, Amendment 3 was often criticized for its social equity agenda. Opponents argued that the proposed microlicenses were not enough of an opportunity for the communities most affected by the marijuana ban.

While plant-free jobs provide people with a wider range of business opportunities, Day said it’s up to individuals and business leaders to foster an equitable and inclusive environment.

“It is not just for lawmakers, but also for people working in the industry, to pay attention to history and ensure that in the future we build the industry and the companies of a inclusive and responsible way,” Day said. both on plant-related and ancillary activities.

Not a green rush

Not everyone has the opportunity to join an emerging industry in its early stages.

“These types of opportunities don’t happen very often in life,” Day said. “When they show up, if you’re inclined to commit to something really new…that’s your time.”

Day said any company looking to transition into the cannabis industry should approach it with an open mind and know that the industry is still adapting.

“Each stage of business, each stage of economic development as a new state arrives, requires enormous amounts of adaptation,” Day said.

He also said people should be prepared for hard work. Although the cannabis business is booming, new and exciting, it is no guarantee of success.

“Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’re coming,” Day said. “You have to work hard to grow the business, and you have to learn from those who came before you in a responsible, sustainable and fair way.”

“There’s a lot of sexiness in the industry, but it’s not quick to make money. You want to be there for the long haul.

Cannabis expert Dave Morrissey

Some companies are interested in marijuana but don’t want to make it their sole focus.

Mike Markham is Director of Business and Industrial Technology at Commenco, a Kansas City-based technology solutions company.

Shortly after Missouri legalized medical marijuana, Commenco partnered with a California software company specializing in cannabis tracking software.

It was a way for the company to get into the cannabis industry.

“It’s not a huge change for us, from a technology standpoint,” Markham said. “It’s a different angle, and trying to help people meet the needs of the state, basically.”

Markham said Commenco’s cannabis work currently accounts for less than 5% of its business.

“If it starts to become something we should pay attention to, we will,” Markham said. “I think everyone is sort of in a wait-and-see mode.”

Tammy Puyear is co-president of We Are JAINE, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women in cannabis.

Puyear assists with consulting, compliance, and marketing for cannabis businesses in Missouri.

Head shot of woman with short black hair.
Tammy Puyear is the co-president and founder of We Are JAINE. (Courtesy | We are JAINE)

She knows women who have applied and were unable to obtain a dispensary or grower license through Missouri’s medical program. So they changed their approach to entering the industry.

“A lot of people who applied for licenses and didn’t get them already have well-established careers,” Puyear said. “Whether you’re an accountant, lawyer, or doing pest control, security, transportation, all those things you would have in normal industry, we need those cannabis skills.”

Before moving a business into the cannabis industry, Puyear said it was important for people to be educated. Despite the industry’s youthfulness in Missouri, Puyear said there are plenty of educational opportunities at universities and online resources.

“Being passionate is definitely something we’re looking for, but for people who want to work in the industry, it’s important that they understand how the program works and the inventory framework of how it works,” Puyear said.

This is partly why she founded We Are JAINE. It provides women with educational opportunities and networking skills to better understand the cannabis business.

Morrissey of Cannabis Experts said relationships are vital to getting into cannabis. He recommends anyone interested in transitioning their business/career to marijuana join a cannabis trade organization to foster industry relationships.

He described cannabis as “the Wild West” because there are so many entry points and gaps to fill.

“The kind of chaos in the industry creates a lot of opportunity,” Morrissey said.

It’s inevitable that the market will grow now with the legalization of adult use, but Morrissey said that doesn’t mean everyone who uses cannabis will “kill it”.

“There’s a lot of sex appeal in the industry, but it’s not fast to make money,” Morrissey said. “You want to be here for the long haul.”

Cami Koons covers rural affairs for Kansas City PBS in cooperation with Report for America. The work of our Report for America corps members is made possible, in part, through the generous support of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

Learn more about KC Media Collective’s Startland News

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