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It’s Time to Recognize Cannabis Is a Valid Business Career

I have teenagers and I’m often asked if I would encourage them to pursue a career in cannabis. Initially, the question gave me pause but now, I tend to give a much more positive response.

“Cannabis professional” not an oxymoron. There’s perhaps no other industry in modern history that is so multi-faceted, requiring some level of knowledge or expertise across so many different disciplines. After all, we are creating an entire industry from one end of the supply chain to the other, entirely from scratch. From the agricultural issues of cultivation to the engineering aspects of manufacturing to the legal and regulatory requirements surrounding local consumer shops, cannabis requires the business acumen so common in more traditional industries

According to ArcView Market Research, the cannabis industry will employ well over 400,000 people in the US by 2021. By conservative estimates, there are already 211,000 cannabis jobs across the United States now, of which 64,000 were added just in 2018. As more states legalize cannabis, employment needs and opportunities will grow exponentially.

Having witnessed the modern evolution of this industry first hand, I think it’s time parents, universities and society as a whole embrace the cannabis business as a legitimate career path. There are so many opportunities in the cannabis industry for young, motivated, bright minds. While the regulatory requirements in this industry are burdensome, they change constantly so it’s never “too late” to get an early start in this burgeoning industry.

Cannabis is a big opportunity for young adults to get into a growing, dynamic field and learn so much about so many different industries. Cannabis is a stimulating learning environment because it touches on so many different aspects of business — legal, political, regulatory, financial, retail, agricultural, industrial, etc — that it’s kind of the liberal arts of business. The opportunity to see how all of these disciplines interact makes cannabis ideal for all those young adults who “don’t know what they want to be when they grow up.” They can dip a toe in and be exposed to a broad spectrum of businesses.

At my company, we’ve created a formal management training program that takes employees through different business units from cultivation to manufacturing to retail and more. They’re learning the basics of the cannabis business along with gaining skills in finance, customer service, manufacturing, sales and marketing. The skills they learn assist them in developing into “cannabis professionals” but are also transferable to other industries.

Colleges and universities recognize the potential of careers in cannabis. Many are developing curriculums and majors built around the industry. In recent years, we’ve seen wine industry classes take off and I expect the numbers of students enrolled in these new cannabis programs to soar, not because of the stoner culture, but because of the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of what is already a multi-billion dollar industry with international scope.

Lack of experience isn’t much of a barrier to students wanting to get a foot in the door in cannabis. Legalization is so recent that very few people have much real experience in the legal cannabis industry. Everyone is learning together.

Perhaps not since Silicon Valley has an industry been so ripe for entrepreneurism. Cannabis has become the industry it is today primarily because of entrepreneurs who refused to quit in their unwavering desire to provide the public with access to this medicine. The earliest entrepreneurs were the people who grew their own plants and look at where we are today in cultivation as an industry.

As parents, educators and business owners, let’s legitimize cannabis as a serious career path for those eager to learn and join such a dynamic industry. It’s time to put the stigma of the product behind us and appreciate the impact cannabis is, and will, have on our economy.