Hoping to Work in the Weed Industry? – The Portland Mercury
AN INTERESTING THING about living in a state with legal pot is the frequency with which I’m asked if I know of any job openings. So do I? Yes and no.
We’re only a few months along on the rollout of Oregon’s adult-use (AKA recreational pot) laws. We won’t have recreational dispensaries until (best guess) sometime in the third or fourth quarter of 2016. That’s when anyone 21 and older can buy concentrates, edibles, topicals, vape pens, pain patches, sodas, and tinctures. As of now, you’re still limited to a quarter-ounce of flowers, seeds, and clones.
We don’t yet have the infrastructure in place to support sales of those non-flower products, either. Sure, they’re available to Oregon Medical Marijuana Program cardholders, but that’s just under 77,000 people statewide. The Oregon Health Authority recently released rules for growing cannabis for the recreational market, but permits to do so won’t be issued until 2016. So while there’s a mad scramble for land and facilities, no one’s yet growing at the rate that will eventually be allowed.
There is, however, seasonal work. The Southern Oregon harvest is in, and our unseasonably warm weather gave the eco farmers bumper crops. That sun-grown goodness needs to be trimmed, creating a tribe of seasonal workers often referred to as “trimmigrants,” who travel up and down I-5 trimming for a patchwork of operations.
It’s not glamorous. You end up in a sleeping bag on a floor, or a tent if you’re really lucky. Work is paid by the pound or by an average of $15 to $20 an hour. You might also be paid in weed, and anything that sticks to the scissors is yours to keep. While you can’t pay off student loans with scissor hash, it helps with the stress of having student loans, which you most likely did not accrue in pursuit of a TFA (Trimmer of Fine Arts). Trimmers tell of 12- to 14-hour days, for 14- to 21-day stretches. It’s hard on the back, arms, and especially the hands and fingers. You can address those symptoms with the flower you’re trimming, but it’s not an ideal job for many.
Maybe you want to work in a dispensary? They need people to check IDs and enter customers into their computer systems. There are also budtenders—the (hopefully) patient, knowledgeable folks who help you select your flower. Most I know make $11-15 an hour, plus tips. There are sales positions for wholesalers and processors (someone making a product using the cannabis flower), so if you enjoy driving and selling products, there are some opportunities available. Then there are intake managers, who buy products from wholesale distributors and growers.
Between tax laws and zero access to banking, dispensaries aren’t making money hand over fist. Come January, tax impositions on consumers may very well reduce sales.
So yes, there are opportunities. But give it another year or so before you quit your day job.