Legal Cannabis Spurs Demand for Certain Skill Sets

Just a few years ago, it would have been almost unheard of for someone to list the ability to grow, identify, or recommend different strains of cannabis as a job qualification, but the times are a changin’!


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According to a Glassdoor article, “It was a banner year for the cannabis industry in 2018. Canada officially legalized cannabis and many are looking to the United States for signs that it will follow suit. In fact, seven states and Washington D.C. approved measures in 2018 to loosen restrictions on cannabis, bringing the number of states with legalized recreational or medical marijuana up to 33 (and D.C.).”
Glassdoor also cites an October 2018 Gallup poll showing that support for nationwide marijuana legalization has reached a record high of 66%.
The growth in legalization has caused more legitimate businesses to enter the cannabis industry—and they need employees. Though representing a wide spectrum of needs, in-demand roles fall broadly into three categories: service and retail, professional and technical, and labor and physical.
These needs go beyond employing a hydroponics operator or a sales counter rep. There is high demand for accountants, wellness coordinators, store managers, and other professional roles. Overall, 2018 saw a 76% growth in job openings for cannabis jobs compared with 2017.
Glassdoor identifies three key trends that are driving the hiring frenzy among cannabis growers:
  • Legitimization: Legalization also means regulation. The legal pot industry has a growing need for staff who can navigate various compliance requirements.
  • Professionalization: As small and midsize businesses attract investment capital and grow, there is a demand for people who can manage growing and large companies.
  • Modernization: Marijuana-growing operations are becoming increasingly high-tech, requiring skilled technical employees.

The growing legalization and acceptance of the cannabis industry serve as an interesting recruitment trend case study because it shows what is needed when an industry almost literally sprouts up overnight—in this case, due to relatively sudden regulatory change.
As an entirely new industry emerges, many fields may experience shifting demands, which is an interesting illustration of the importance of monitoring the environment for disruptive changes to the hiring landscape.

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