OPINION: Keith Wolsko and Danielle Moore of cannabis industry recruitment specialists Simply Kind Solutions highlight the seismic recent growth of the USA’s burgeoning cannabis industry and the kinds of profiles that the industry is looking for.


We are witnessing the birth of the next great American industry.

So, you want to join the cannabis industry? You’re not the only one who wishes to do so. However, before you quit your current job to take the leap into this exploding industry, let’s examine what you can expect to find on your journey.

As we find ourselves amid the Industrial Revolution 2.0, we encounter an industry that is now the hottest employment sector, supported by statistics released by the most comprehensive cannabis jobs report conducted to date. According to Leafly, there are currently 296,000 full-time professionals employed in the legal cannabis industry.

Additionally, current bills when signed into law would remove cannabis from the Schedule I status and regulate it, resulting in the creation of a minimum of 1 million new full-time jobs. This moment would mark the fruition of decades of advocacy to allow Americans to make their own choice of whether or not to consume cannabis and have it regulated no differently than alcohol or tobacco.


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According to a study conducted this year by Leafly and Whitney Economics, using state-reported data, industry surveys and on-the-ground reporting, we are witnessing the birth of the next great American industry. Here are some of the statistics state-by-state.

The state of Florida added the greatest number of full-time cannabis jobs in 2018, meanwhile, Pennsylvania had the largest percentage increase. Additionally, in Florida, the development of the state’s medical marijuana industry produced an enormous hiring spree. At the end of 2017, there were 1,290 full-time jobs in the state’s medical cannabis industry. Only one year later the tally is up to 10,358. Part of this hiring growth was brought on by the addition of so many medical marijuana patients, which grew from about 65,000 to 165,000 in 2018. Nevada comes in second in growth, going from 4,193 jobs at the beginning of 2018 to 11,766 jobs today. The launch of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana dispensaries also had a similar job-opening surge. Alaska gained 5 times the number of positions, from 542 jobs to 2,810. Maryland began 2018 with 559 jobs and added another 2,624. New York tripled the number of cannabis workers in the state. Illinois and Minnesota doubled their cannabis employment. Washington and Colorado continued to add thousands of cannabis jobs.


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The reality is that the cannabis industry is no different to any other industry and what job seekers can expect is no different, nor is the employer expectation. Just because the industry seems to be a party, it’s not. Employers in the cannabis sector are expecting the same level of professionalism as banking or any other. Companies will see a lot of resumes from job seekers who are passionate about cannabis and the industry. While energy and passion are desired attributes, an employer wants to know your skills and experience and how they are relevant to their company and its employment culture. Passion and interest for the cannabis vertical can only take you so far, as companies need people who bring more to the table. Be specific about the added value and experience you can bring to the organization and the position for which you’re applying. This industry commands more than the “it’s just a job” mentality.


If you are someone who needs an established and well-structured working environment, then maybe the cannabis industry is not for you.

This is a new industry, with the growing pains that go along with any business. You’ll need to be flexible and adaptable in an environment which is constantly moving and changing in areas like licensing, regulation, and constant growth. Problems with the industry’s federal legal status require adaptability to constant change. One blemish to a state regulation can make a company change its whole strategy or even change its entire line of products. Most cannabis companies have a head count of less than 75 employees. Therefore, everyone on the team is expected to jump in wherever and whenever necessary. There is a need for everyone to roll-up their sleeves and perform whatever task is necessary to get the job done. If you are someone who needs an established and well-structured working environment, then maybe the cannabis industry is not for you. If you happen to be someone who succeeds in a constantly moving and fast-paced environment, the cannabis industry just might be for you.


The best thing you as a job seeker can do is educate yourself through one of many cannabis education course programs to familiarize yourself with the entire process of the industry, including state regulations, certifications, licenses, etc. It is also important when breaking into the cannabis industry to immerse yourself in all aspects of it. This would include attending conferences, symposiums, networking events, educational seminars and so forth.


At the end of the day, there are many paths one can take when attempting to break into the cannabis industry. If you are lucky enough to secure an interview, do your homework by researching the company you’re interviewing with, show your knowledge by asking relevant questions, and be sure to discuss the company’s mission statement and how you would be impacted as an employee by that mission. In doing so, you’re demonstrating your sincerity about making an impact within their organization. Just like any other industry vertical, cannabis employers desire those who want to help them achieve success. Stay vigilant, keep chasing your dream, and good luck.