Thousands of job seekers waited in line last week for a cannabis industry job fair in Denver. Over a dozen marijuana businesses were looking for employees to fill jobs such as marijuana trimmers, marketers, shop counter personnel, and pot tourist guides.
About 1,200 people attended last Thursday’s job fair, the first ever in the industry. The first job seekers arrived about five hours early and waited in line outside the Denver office building where the fair was held. The fair was organized by O.penvape, a company that makes vaporizers.
Some fair attendees traveled from as far as California and New Mexico. Organizers had expected about 600 attendees. They now say that the next fair, which is already being organized, will probably need a bigger venue.
Recreational sales of pot began in Colorado in January, and the state is experiencing a financial boom from the new businesses. The Colorado Department of Revenue last week reported $14 million in marijuana sales and $2 million profit in taxes for the month of January, a number expected to grow as more sellers are licensed.
Business owners hope to find quality new talent at the fair. David Maddalena from The Hemp Connoisseur magazine said that his job posts frequently attract people who are excited to work in the industry but do not realize the amount of work that goes into running a successful business. The Hemp Connoisseur was hoping to expand its advertising staff as circulation increases in Colorado and moves into Oregon and Washington.
Todd Mitchum, O.penvape’s chief revenue officer, said there is a mistaken belief that pot jobs pay three times as much as regular jobs, but says salaries are actually competitive with other businesses, or perhaps just a little higher.
Positions requiring employees to be in direct contact with cannabis will require a “badge,” which is a marijuana occupational license. Obtaining a badge involves confirmation of Colorado residency, and a criminal background check, and costs either $75 or $250, depending on the job.
The types of businesses represented at the Denver cannabis industry job fair were varied. There was a tour company searching for tour guides to help pot tourists find their way through the new industry. In addition to sales and counter personnel, dispensaries hunted for web designers and bud tenders.
One attendee at the fair was a New York Culinary Institute graduate who hoped to find work somewhere that infuses pot into foods. Another hoped to find a company that would want to develop his concepts for marijuana ice cream. Another with an advanced degree looked to find an opportunity in research.
People are coming from all over the world to work in the budding Colorado pot industry. Some have even relocated to Denver to take advantage of the new opportunities.
Twenty states and the District of Columbia have so far passed legislation to allow medicinal marijuana sales. Colorado and Washington State are the only ones to have legalized recreational pot.
Interestingly enough, pot was prohibited at the Denver cannabis industry job fair, either in line or at the fair. Mitchum said he thought it would be inappropriate to come to apply for a job while stoned.
By Beth A. Balen