The Canna-Career – Making it Wurk
“People who smoke pot are lazy, dumb, and unemployable!”
I’ve heard some version of that statement a thousand times. There’s a stigma about what a cannabis user looks like and that outlook only gets darker when it’s transferred to employees and business owners in the budding cannabis industry. According to some people, dispensaries and growers are nothing more than glorified drug dealers. These accusations couldn’t be further from the truth. To understand what a career in cannabis actually looks like, and to help #end420shame, you need the facts.
The cannabis industry created more than 18,000 new jobs in Colorado last year, according to the Marijuana Policy Group. And those jobs were created because cannabis spending creates more output and employment per dollar spent than 90 percent of Colorado industries.
“The amount of knowledge that the average bud tender has compared to an employee at a typical retail establishment blows me away,” Keegan Peterson, Founder and CEO of Wurk, said. “They have to know the 50 different cannabis strands that their company carries including all of their effects. And even more impressive, their inventory changes almost every single day and they have to keep up.”
The cannabis industry employs an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 full- and part-time workers, according to Marijuana Business Daily. And those jobs aren’t just for retail sales. “There are a lot of high-tech jobs in cannabis,” said Keegan. “When you post a job online, immediately, you have 150 highly-qualified applicants.”
“The other thing that is really fascinating about the cannabis industry is that it happens to employ a lot of veterans,” explained Keegan. “So, not only is cannabis used to treat PTSD, but as a whole, the industry has embraced veterans by also providing jobs.”
It’s clear that a career in cannabis isn’t what most people expect, so what is it like? It’s a brand-new industry, and that means there are a lot of opportunities. For most people, working in cannabis means working with the plant, but that’s not always the case. There are thousands of jobs that sit ancillary to the plant—jobs with companies like Wurk.
Wurk is a full-service payroll and human resources provider designed with cannabis companies in mind. Their technology helps dispensaries and growers stay compliant with the cannabis regulatory bodies within their state while also ensuring they pay everyone correctly. It’s a tech company that only exists because of medical and recreational cannabis, and Wurk is part of the fastest growing side of cannabis—infrastructure.
Unlike other well-developed industries such as the alcohol or agriculture industry, cannabis is starting from the ground up. “There’s a lot of infrastructure work required to make cannabis a legal industry. It’s work that most people take for granted,” explains Keegan. “Cannabis businesses need to be able to distribute product, bank, run HR, etc. This infrastructure is currently what the industry lacks the most, and where, I believe, we’ll see the most growth over the next five to ten years. In five years, the cannabis industry will look just like the retail and manufacturing world, but it will take time and support.”
The growing infrastructure side of cannabis is one of the reasons why I always laugh at the stigma of cannabis workers. As a writer for DOPE Magazine, I’m employed by the cannabis industry, and yet I don’t resemble any sort of stereotype, and I’m not alone by any means.
Unlike other industries, cannabis businesses also face a lot of unique challenges. “A lack of bank accounts for canna-businesses is one of the most pressing problems,” said Keegan. “An inability to open a bank account not only makes payroll very difficult, but it also causes trouble with the government.”
For example, let’s pretend that you run a cannabis business with more than fifty employees. Head into any bank and try to set up a bank account and you’ll most likely be turned down. That’s a problem. The Affordable Care Act requires you to provide healthcare benefits, but healthcare providers won’t offer insurance to companies without a bank account. It’s a Catch-22.
“There are many different types of people that make up the cannabis culture. The industry embraces everyone.”
And that takes us right back to the need for infrastructure and the value that tech-companies such as Wurk provide. Not only does Wurk’s software help with payroll, but they’ve also developed relationships with state banks and credit unions that are permitted to finance cannabis companies. DOPE Magazine not only provide reviews on cannabis products and advertisements, but also provide insight into the cannabis world for non-users.
The key to the cannabis industry is breaking down stigmas and busting stereotypes. As Keegan said, “There are many different types of people that make up the cannabis culture. The industry embraces everyone.”
If you’d like to share your End 4/20 Shame story with us email firstname.lastname@example.org or share your story on social media using the hashtag #End420Shame.