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Four Types of Cannabis Jobs Created by the Legalization of Marijuana


As more states in the U.S. begin legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, we’ve seen an influx of cannabis-related career opportunities. This has begun to pave the way for much-needed job restoration amidst widespread unemployment struggles throughout the country.

Recent reports indicate that the cannabis industry is becoming the most powerful job creator in the country, with no other industry coming close.

Join us as we outline the current state of the cannabis labor force and dissect the different types of cannabis jobs created because of this burgeoning industry.


A man in an apron standing in a greenhouse holding a laptop

Four In-Demand Cannabis Career Opportunities

The cannabis education hub Leafly partners with Whitney Economics each year to produce the nation’s most comprehensive study on cannabis employment. According to the most recent analysis compiled in the 2022 Leafly Jobs Report, more than 428,000 full-time jobs were supported by legal cannabis as of January 2022.

This marked an impressive 33 percent jump in job creation from the year prior, making 2022 the fifth year in a row of annual jobs growth greater than 27 percent. All indicators suggest that when the legalization of marijuana becomes nationwide, the cannabis industry could support as many as 1.75 million jobs throughout the country.

Cannabis professionals are employed to fulfill various duties, from overseeing production and distribution to running dispensaries and even facilitating innovative product development. The possible roles are numerous, but many of them will fall into one of the following four types of cannabis jobs:

1. Dispensary Jobs

One of the more common cannabis-related career opportunities you’ll come across includes working in a dispensary. At an entry-level, working as a dispensary technician — at times referred to as a budtender or dispensary agent — can be an effective way to begin garnering experience in this rapidly evolving industry.

Dispensary techs work directly with customers as they shop or retrieve medical orders. This is a customer service role that requires a working knowledge of the cannabis products within the facility.

Those with a bit more experience may qualify for dispensary manager roles. These professionals are responsible for maintaining operations at the shop. In practice, this can involve everything from answering customer questions and interacting with vendors to collaborating with inspectors to ensure all dispensary operations meet state regulations.

2. Cultivation Careers

There are also several exciting opportunities related to cultivating the cannabis that makes its way onto dispensary shelves. Working in growing facilities allows professionals to gain experience in planting, maintaining, harvesting, and preparing cannabis plants for shipment.

Those more interested in this hands-on process of growing and harvesting cannabis can find entry-level positions as cultivation site workers. Without prior experience, site workers often begin as a trimmer before progressing through a series of other possible positions — such as harvester, cultivation assistant, cultivation manager, and assistant grower.

Those with more industry experience (or advanced experience with horticulture in general), may qualify to become a master grower or director of cultivation. This involves managing a team of assistant growers, harvesters, and trimmers while working closely with law enforcement and compliance agents.

3. Laboratory Positions

Once cannabis is harvested from a grow facility, it is sent to specialized labs where the quality and safety is assessed. Lab technicians will examine the product both to deduce its cannabinoid content and to detect any possible contaminants. There are also lab manager positions for professionals with more extensive laboratory experience.

Other lab-based careers in the cannabis industry revolve around product development. Extraction technicians and chemists work in laboratory settings to extract and separate the chemical compounds found in cannabis for various uses and applications. Extractors typically test the potency of cannabis strains, while chemists in the industry work to ensure the purity of the chemicals within the cannabis products they approve for distribution.

There are also exciting new opportunities in edible development. Cannabis chefs combine their penchant for the science of baking with their knowledge of the unique properties of cannabis to conceptualize cannabis-infused recipes. Positions in this realm can be found in a range of different settings, with edibles chefs working for brands, events, and private clients alike.

4. Product Distribution Opportunities

After cannabis products have passed all the necessary quality assurance assessments in a lab setting, they move on to the next phase of the supply chain: distribution. For products to end up in a retail space where dispensary customers can access them, everything must first go through a cannabis distribution center.

The cannabis distribution career opportunities are numerous, from logistics to transportation to sales. A few examples include directors of distribution, dispatch managers, delivery managers, delivery drivers, and inventory specialists. There are also many entry-level positions in cannabis distribution, including pickers, trimmers, and packers.

Consider Your Future Career in Cannabis

At its current expansion rate, legal cannabis is set to become a $45 billion industry by 2025. If you’re eager to tap into the exciting growth within the cannabis industry, there has never been a better time to begin pursuing cannabis-related career opportunities.

One of the most effective ways to get started is to learn the fundamentals you’ll need to be successful. The Cannabis Science and Operations Certificate at Saint Louis University (SLU) was designed to help produce quality employees who will meet the needs of this booming new field.

This online program’s curriculum addresses all aspects of the cannabis industry, including cultivating, growing, and producing. Students also learn about the pharmacological properties of marijuana, dispensing and more.

Graduates are well-prepared to pursue the various in-demand career opportunities listed above. You can learn more about this flexible, online program by visiting SLU’s Cannabis Science and Operations Certificate program page today.

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