Once considered an illicit drug outlawed across the United States and in many parts of the world, cannabis has been on a comeback tour of epic proportions.
Having risen to a multi-billion dollar legal industry, comprised of both medical and recreational sub-markets, this ‘green revolution’ is poised to open up an endless realm of opportunities abound for those eager to take part.
If you’ve been contemplating a move into the cannabis industry, be it as a side hustle, or a complete career change, this guide will introduce you to the top ways you can be part of this movement in a lucrative (and legal) way.
1. As an Employee – Learn the Ropes
Although certainly not as exciting as starting your own business right off the bat, working within the cannabis industry as an employee has a few major advantages. Just how hot is this job market? According to Leafly (an online cannabis publication), as of January 2020, the legal cannabis industry has created over 243,000 full-time jobs in the United States.
With demand for cannabis spreading faster than wildfire, and growing by double-digit percentages each year, there are plenty of opportunities for those looking to break into the industry to find gainful employment.
Benefits of Starting as an Employee:
- Learn from industry experts
- Lower stress and no required startup costs
- Gain critical experience needed to venture out on your own
- Less risky, with the legalities and compliance handled by others
Hot Opportunities Include:
- Dispensary worker (budtender, miscellaneous business roles, marketing, etc.)
- Agricultural roles (growers, breeders, cultivators)
- Retail (headshop employee)
- Science (lab analysis, quality assurance, testing, etc.)
- Marketing (digital marketing, eCommerce, PR, media relations and more)
Top 10 Employers by State (# of Cannabis Related Jobs):
- California – 39,804
- Colorado – 34,705
- Washington – 23,756
- Oregon – 18,274
- Florida – 15,498
- Arizona – 15,059
- Nevada – 14,305
- Massachusetts – 13,255
- Oklahoma – 9,412
- Illinois – 9,176
*Leafly 2020 Cannabis Job Report Data
2. Starting Your Own Business
Starting your own cannabis-related business can be both lucrative and risky. The industry still operates in a Federally grey area, and is highly regulated at both state and local levels. Despite state-level decriminalization and legalization, at the Federal level, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
Key Considerations When Contemplating Launching a Cannabis Business
Rules and Regulations – Is Your Idea Even Legal?
Despite the trend towards legalization, some states and even localities prohibit certain types of cannabis-related businesses. Others have stringent licensing and regulatory compliance standards that may be difficult to meet. When in doubt, consulting a lawyer specializing in such regulation is a mission-critical first step to avoid costly and sometimes criminal mishaps.
Keep a Clean Record (You and Your Employees)
Due to various regulations, as well as the ‘grey’ nature of the business, anyone involved in your company needs to be above reproach. This means squeaky clean criminal records (and keeping them that way).
Jumping Over the Banking Hurdle
Due to the Federal stance on cannabis being an illicit drug, and the federally regulated nature of the US banking system, most banks are hesitant to do business with cannabis-related companies. As such, those in the industry have faced significant challenges operating what has often come down to a ‘cash only’ business.
Figuring out this step is a major part of opening up a business in the space. After all, if you have no way to collect payments from your customers and use that money to pay your overhead expenses, you won’t be in business long.
Hope for the Best, But Prepare for the Worst – An Uncertain Time for Cannabis
Despite the overwhelming promise, and a general feeling that future laws will lean towards federal legalization, nothing is set in stone, and in fact, recent legislation regarding cannabis legalization has hit major roadblocks.
Those preparing to open up businesses in the space must keep their thumb on the pulse of such legislation, advocating for positive change, while preparing for any setbacks.
Have a Reliable and Reputable “Source”
Those embarking on the lucrative and complex journey to starting a dispensary face not just legal and regulators hurdles, but also the need for reliable sources of product. From glassware and rolling papers, to actual dry herb, partnering with reliable providers such as Hemper.co for glassware and smoking accessories can make or break a new dispensary.
Cannabis Business Ideas to Get You Thinking
- Online headshop
- Cannabis-infused food/beverages
- Cannabis friendly bed and breakfast
- Growing operation (cultivator/breeder)
- Vaping device manufacturing
- Cannabis marketing and/or PR firm
- Cannabis delivery service (Uber for weed)
- Cannabis accessories business (ex. childproof containers)
- Cannabis baking classes
The Future Is Full of Promise and Opportunity
No matter how you choose to get involved, one thing is clear, the cannabis industry is ripe with opportunity. There has never been a time so advantageous and lucrative to start or be part of an existing business in the industry.
We hope this guide shed some light on the ways you can participate and got you thinking about some unique ideas of your own.