How to start a Career in the Cannabis Industry

September 03, 2020

By Elizabeth Barr 

Every week more than 1000 people are moving to the Seattle area and a number of those transplants are folks from all over the country hopeful to make a career in cannabis. Whether it’s rumors of big earning potential, love for the plant or the freedom of the legal landscape that’s luring you to the industry, here’s what you should know about getting your foot in the door.

Multiple Career Options

Since failing a drug test does not count as valid job experience for your resume, you need to treat this like any other industry when it comes to searching for jobs. You do want to get creative with how you talk about your work history. We are still early enough in the process where only certain jobs and careers require formal education and specific work experience, so you may be surprised at how many skillsfrom other industries will translate and be valuable. To learn more about what types of jobs are available and how to prepare for them click here.

Be Real about Location

Currently only 11 states have legalized recreational marijuana, which makes targeting a location simple. A mistake people often make in the Pacific Northwest is to consider Seattle and Portland the only options to relocate to. When you consider cost of living, and quality of life in the industry the larger cities are often not the best place to transition to. You may find a better vibe, cheaper cost of living and more community focused culture in less known cities like Tacoma, Spokane, Bellingham, or Eugene. Be open and do your research anddefinitely try to network with people ahead of time.

Test Your Passion

Before you relocate or change your current career trajectory, you need to have a completely honest conversation with yourself and askhow much do you really want to be in the cannabis industry? You will potentially be changing your home and community, working for less money in an industry with no standards or best practices and many “off-shore” investors, which leaves room for high turnover, turf wars, workplace chaos, etc. You need to be ready to make it through the downsides as well as the perks.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Once you find your place and job, it’s important to stay healthy and active in your mind, body and soul. How you do that is completely up to you. For some being active means 25-mile backpacking trips and for others it means cultivating a flower garden. The main thing is not to fall into the retail diet of caffeine, fast food and sugar, or smoking so much you don’t develop social connections (Link to article). You know what you need to doo to be healthy, do that.

Educate yourself about Local Regulations

Every legal state has different laws and regulations when it comes to consuming, producing, processing and distributing cannabis. No matter what leg of the industry you want to get into, you need to get familiar with the legal landscape before you put yourself, or the company you work for in serious risk. Because you can’t expect standard and detailed training from every potential employer, protect yourself by doing your own research.

Manage Expectations

The more you research, network and prepare, the more your expectations will be in alignment with reality, and the more successful you will be in your endeavor. Industry turnover remains high because people weren’t prepared for increased cost of living, working long hours or building a new social circle after a cross-country move.(Link to article)


The most important asset we need in this industry is authenticity and individuality. People seek to work with cannabis often because they can be themselves. This is a profitable and colorful industry made up of all walks of life. As big money comes to get their share, we need to make sure the unique character and culture of the cannabis community remains vibrant through the next generations.