You know the old adage, the grass is always greener on the other side? Well, it’s true in the US. Like thousands of others before us, we made the move to Colorado one year ago from the East coast. Colorado is synonymous for things like 14’ers, alpine skiing, craft beer, and cannabis. With the world at our feet, we decided to apply for jobs in the most controversial industry in America right now, cannabis. With others using terms like marijuana, weed, and dope it’s not surprising why there is a stigma and fear surrounding the topic. But, guess what? It’s not as scary as many imagine. For us, the hardest part was getting a company to hire a couple of inexperienced 50 year-olds in an industry geared towards GenXers and Millennials.
For the time being, before you can apply to these jobs, you must obtain state issued credentials, in the form of an ID badge. Specifically, industry badges are issued directly by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). The most common badges are referred to as an occupational key badge ($300) or an occupational support badge ($75). If you’re just starting in the industry, it’s likely you’ll only need a support badge. If you’re stepping into a management role, a key badge would be necessary. However, things change quickly in this business, always refer to the MED website for the latest news and compliance updates. The cost to earn these credentials varies, so check here for the latest fees and costs.
As a rule, have a notary sign off on your application before submitting at the MED office, otherwise it will be rejected. It’s a good idea to make an appointment before going to the office, as walk-ins are not always welcome. The application process requires an extensive background check and vetting process that includes fingerprints. It takes about a week to get the actual badge, but in the meantime, applicants are provided a receipt to confirm an approved status. To be compliant, ALL industry employees must display a current Colorado MED Badge at all times while working at any marijuana business.
Now, the hard part, getting someone to hire you. Most cannabis companies are looking for folks with experience. With absolutely no prior experience, for us, the job search was on. Ultimately, as husband and wife, we hoped to find employment at the same company for convenience. But who would hire two “mature” East coasters with no experience? Lucky for us, we found a company in Denver who did just that. Deemed as the largest commercial grow in Colorado, the GreenDragonColorado gave us the opportunity and experience we were looking for to break into the world of cannabis.
All things considered, working in a marijuana grow was an eye-opening and rewarding experience. The process from seedling to store was more than we ever imagined. Not only has the industry grown leaps and bounds, it’s taking on a commercial approach combining automation and science to meet the growing demand. Like any new business, there are growing pains, but with this industry there is a continuous ache and stigma associated with it because of its dubious past. Lawmakers make it difficult to do business, but the perseverance of these company’s make it impossible for the world not to notice what is happening here in Colorado and across the nation.
From commercial grows to boutique dispensaries, business is booming in Colorado and will be in several other states very soon. After November 2016, a total of 28 states and DC have legalized medical cannabis, while 8 states, including DC, have expanded into legal recreational use for adults. According to ArcView Market Research, 2016 sales of the plant are predicted to reach $6.7 billion in the US and potentially as much as $20 billion in sales by 2021. In 2015, an alarming 18,000 new jobs were created by the cannabis industry, in Colorado alone! I can’t wait to see the data for 2016! It’s hard to argue with those numbers, but even better, more research is taking place to confirm the healing components within the plant’s nomenclature — FINALLY!
Eric and Lori Malcolm