With cannabis legalization efforts continuing to succeed across the United States, the need for skilled workers in the legal weed industry continues to grow. In a recent jobs report, Leafly and Whitney Economics projected that when weed is legalized nationwide, the regulated cannabis industry could support as many as 1.75 million jobs across the country.
The report reveals that the cannabis industry currently supports 428,059 full-time equivalent jobs in the United States. Last year marked the first year that job creation in the cannabis industry exceeded 100,000 new positions. After adding 32,700 jobs in 2019 and 77,300 more in 2020, the industry added another 107,059 new positions last year.
“To put that in perspective, America’s entire financial sector added 145,000 jobs last year,” wrote the authors of the report. “The construction industry, coast to coast, added 165,000 jobs.”
Getting a Foot in the Door
But landing a job in the cannabis industry, particularly in the sector’s highest-paying positions, can seem out of reach to a lot of people. The age-old Catch-22 of needing experience to get a job while needing a job to get experience has befuddled many a job-seeker. To address the issue, Colorado vertically integrated cannabis firm Seed & Smith launched a new paid internship program this year and saw the graduation of its first candidate last month. The company is currently recruiting candidates for the next cohort of interns, with classes beginning in autumn.
Robbie Wroblewski, the marketing director at Seed & Smith, says that the company’s internship program provides a way for candidates to earn an income while they gain knowledge and experience in one of the varied employment positions in the industry.
“The goal of the program is to help candidates from each involved department (Cultivation, Extraction, Sales, Logistics and Marketing) achieve a knowledge base that prepares them for roles that are beyond entry-level positions with having little to no previous experience in cannabis ,” Wroblewski explained in an email to High Times†
Seed & Smith is currently recruiting for its next internal class, which will be getting to work in September or October. Wroblewski says that the company primarily recruits at college campuses, but all interested in a career in the cannabis industry are invited to apply. Interns who are students may have the option to enroll in work-study programs and continue their professional and academic careers at the same time.
“The program is three months long and each position is paid,” Wroblewski said. “Each candidate is different but we work with colleges to ensure that college credit can be obtained for the internship as well.”
He adds that each department at Seed & Smith has developed its own curriculum for the interns, who spend time learning many aspects of the job and how they fit into the department and the cannabis industry in general.
First Intern Celebrating Graduation
Talia Sanchez-Hernandez completed her internship with Seed & Smith last month, making her the first graduate of the program. After working a couple of entry-level positions in cannabis retail and cultivation, she was ready to gain new skills and learn about other aspects of the industry. When she came to Seed & Smith to apply for a job and was told about the new internship program, she jumped at the chance for her to advance her career.
“Getting hands-on experience was one of the main things that I try to strive for working in this industry,” Sanchez-Hernandez explains in a virtual interview.
“I found Seed & Smith and they had their internship, and it just kind of really screamed at me. I’ve always wanted to do an internship,” she continues. “I actually went to school for psychology, and one of my big things was holistic medicine. Those were two things that went hand-in-hand with me.”
Sanchez-Hernandez’s internship was in the extraction track. During her studies, she learned several different methods to manufacture cannabis concentrates, including hydrocarbon extraction and distillation. The program also covered other steps in the manufacturing process such as homogenization, decarboxylation, filtration and purging, as well as best practices for smooth and safe operation of the lab.
“It’s a lot when you first see it, but everybody I worked with was really, really helpful. Everybody’s always willing to go out of the way if you need something,” says Sanchez-Hernandez. “It’s really cool. And just being here, I learned so much more in the lab, science-wise, just being hands-on.”
She adds that she has been keen to pick up new knowledge and skills in all of the positions in the cannabis industry she has held in her short career. But the focus on her professional development during her internship with Seed & Smith has been an experience like no other.
Now that she has graduated from the program, Sanchez-Hernandez is ready for her next adventure in Colorado’s regulated cannabis industry. And her success in the internship program has made it so she doesn’t have to look far.
“Talia is our first graduate and we have decided to keep her on the Seed & Smith team,” Wroblewski reports. “Given her knowledge and capabilities, we were able to place her in a mid-level management position.”
More information on Seed & Smith’s cannabis internship program is available by emailing the company’s human resources department at firstname.lastname@example.org.