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Sep 25 - Cannabis jobs are becoming a refuge for burned out retail and restaurant workers



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 4 weeks ago '07        #1
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Sep 25 - Cannabis jobs are becoming a refuge for burned out retail and restaurant workers
 

 

After a year on the front lines, Jason Zvokel traded in his 15-year career as a Walgreens pharmacist for a different kind of drugstore: a marijuana dispensary.

Now instead of administering vaccines and filling prescriptions, he’s helping customers make sense of concentrates, tablets and lozenges. His pay is 5 percent lower, he said, but the hours are more manageable.

“I am so much happier,” said Zvokel, 46, who’s worked in retail since he was 18. “For the first time in years, I’m not miserable when I come home from work.”

The cannabis industry is riding a pandemic high: Marijuana dispensaries and cultivation facilities — deemed “essential” by many states at the beginning of the coronavirus crisis — became an early refuge for retail and restaurant workers who had been furloughed or laid off. The industry has continued to grow, adding nearly 80,000 jobs in 2020, more than double what it did the year before, according to data from the Leafly Jobs Report, produced in partnership with Whitney Economics.

An estimated 321,000 Americans now work in the industry, a 32 percent increase from last year, the report found, making legal marijuana one of the nation’s fastest-growing sectors. In other words: The United States now has more legal cannabis workers than dentists, paramedics or electrical engineers.

Many Americans reassessed their jobs and career prospects as the pandemic reshaped their social and working lives. Retail workers in particular are quitting at record rates, in search of consistent hours, better benefits and more opportunities to advance — which many say they’re finding in the legal cannabis industry.

“There has been a seismic shift of workers from retail and restaurants to cannabis,” said Kara Bradford, chief executive of cannabis recruiting firm Viridian Staffing, where she has fielded as many as 500 applications for one opening. “There is a sense that this is a booming industry that’s fun and interesting, with a lot of opportunities to move up quickly.”

Hourly pay at dispensaries, she said, runs from $12 to $15, in line with most retail and warehouse jobs. But given the newness of the industry, entry-level workers can often move up in less than a year to more specialized positions, she said.

That surge in cannabis hiring has put pressure on traditional employers — particularly in the 18 states and the District where recreational marijuana use is legal — to ease drug testing requirements. Amazon, the nation’s second-largest private employer, said in June that it would stop screening employees for cannabis use and would support federal legislation to legalize marijuana.

(Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

A number of other employers, including retailers, restaurants and city governments have also dropped such requirements in an effort to attract workers in a labor market where job openings outpace the number of unemployed Americans 10.9 million to 8.4 million.

Workers’ rights groups are pressing for broader unionization in the cannabis industry, calling it a critical time to establish well-paying jobs with proper protections. With the right policies, they say, the industry could become a pipeline to middle-class jobs, much like the manufacturing industry used to be.

“It is so rare to have an opportunity to shape an industry from its inception,” said David Cooper, an analyst for the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. “There is an urgency to establish guardrails now, for well-paying, middle-class jobs, before cannabis is legalized federally and really takes off. Otherwise these jobs could quickly start to look like existing retail and agriculture jobs, which are often times the worst jobs in the economy.”

Legalization efforts have swept through the country since California began allowing medical marijuana use 25 years ago. Most U.S. states — 37 of them, plus the District — now allow its medical use, with a growing number of them legalizing the drug altogether. (The latest to do so, this summer, were New Mexico, Connecticut and Virginia.)

As a result, business is soaring. Sales of legal cannabis grew nearly 60 percent to $19 billion last year, and are expected to balloon to $41 billion by 2025, according to Wall Street research firm Cowen.

An employee operates a packaging machine at Empire Standard on April 13 in Binghamton, New York.© Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images An employee operates a packaging machine at Empire Standard on April 13 in Binghamton, New York.

For Zvokel, the cannabis industry became a reprieve from the stresses of working for a national retail chain, where his 10-hour shifts often stretched to 12 or 13 hours. By the time he left in April, he was administering 30 to 40 coronavirus vaccines a day, while trying to keep up with his usual duties. Plus, he said, there was constant pressure to increase sales and fill prescriptions as quickly as possible. As a salaried manager, he didn’t receive overtime pay and said it had been at least four years since he got a raise.

“By not moving up, I felt like I was essentially moving backwards,” said Zvokel, now one of 10,000 marijuana workers represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. “People were quitting left and right and I was being asked to do a lot more than I physically could.”

Fraser Engerman, a spokesman for Walgreens, said the company has increased hiring during the pandemic and is expanding its budget for pharmacy operations and training.

“We are committed to increasing support for [our pharmacists] so they may continue providing excellent patient care,” he said.

Five months into his new job, Zvokel said the dispensary is rapidly hiring and there is a sense of camaraderie among his colleagues. Labor economists say the industry has become defined by a desire to create favorable working conditions — both to attract employees and to gain broader legitimacy.

Many employers also feel additional pressure to treat workers well, given that growing and selling marijuana is still illegal at a federal level, said Raymond Hogler, a professor at Colorado State University who studies marijuana labor relations.

“There are many issues with working with marijuana: Dust, safety concerns, dangers of harvesting the plant itself,” he said. “And, frankly, there is extra pressure to treat workers well because the industry wants to show that it provides good, solid employment.”

Some employees, though, say the work can be physically grueling and low-paying. Devon Doram, 28, took a job at a medical marijuana dispensary in Lebanon, Pa., early in the pandemic. After his last gig at a pet food warehouse, he was excited to work directly with customers.

But Doram, who is Black, said he often felt sidelined in a workplace where all managers were White. A couple of months in, a national conglomerate bought the dispensary, adding to the disconnect between executives and workers. He quit after eight months and now works for a pest control service.

“I liked going to work and feeling like I was really helping people, like I was finally in a field where I could build a career,” he said. “But from everything I’ve seen, there wasn’t much diversity. There were managers who were willing to help me move up in the company, but that just didn’t happen.”

Last fall, Brianna Price left a job as a grocery stocker to become a “budtender” — an industry term for a sales employee — at a dispensary. She’s been promoted three times in the year she’s worked there, and now oversees all purchasing and a staff of nine.

“I really wanted to take my time during covid to reevaluate my life and make a career change,” said Price, 31, of Midland, Mich.

At the Hempire Collective in Loomis, Mich., where she works, sales have more than doubled in the last year, to roughly $500,000 a month, according to co-owner Mario Porter. He’s expanded his dispensary staff from seven to 12, and expects to hire more this year. Many of his new employees, he said, come from retail jobs that they left during the pandemic.

He has dozens of applications on his desk, and hundreds more that were submitted online.

“This summer has been exceptional,” he said. “The majority of my employees come from retail backgrounds because they understand the most important part of this job: To listen to customers and meet their needs.”

Mike Medina picks out a free joint after attending the Joints4Jabs covid-19 vaccination clinic, hosted by Pliable, at the Uncle Ikes White Center cannabis shop on June 16 in Seattle.© David Ryder/Getty Images Mike Medina picks out a free joint after attending the Joints4Jabs covid-19 vaccination clinic, hosted by Pliable, at the Uncle Ikes White Center cannabis shop on June 16 in Seattle.

In South Bend, Ind., Ashlyn Marshall, 28, recently quit her full-time job with an RV manufacturer to work part-time at a marijuana dispensary. Her struggles with anxiety during the pandemic made her realize “a work-life balance meant more to me than money.” She earns $14.50 an hour, compared with $16 at her last job.

“I was getting cussed out by customers every day, while doing the jobs of three people,” she said. “It was just complete burnout.”

In her new role, she said, the tone among managers and employees is calmer and friendlier.

“Management is a lot more human,” she said. “If I make a mistake and I apologize, the general vibe is, ‘It’s okay, we all make mistakes. Let’s fix this together.’ I’ve never had that before.”
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42 comments
 

 4 weeks ago '20        #2
Blafy  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x4
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-29   

 4 weeks ago '04        #3
zone3cp 
Props total: 140724 140 K  Slaps total: 15069 15 K
Dude above is corny…Yall think that weird sh*t entertainment. Slap that sh*t from now on.



On to the NEWS story…The bigger the industry gets the more they gonna have to tax it. Taxing equates to legalization. It’s way too much money the federal government missing out on right now.
+7   

 4 weeks ago '21        #4
Tlatoani  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x1
Props total: 12546 12 K  Slaps total: 3084 3 K
Good.
+2   

 4 weeks ago '21        #5
B46610  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
Props total: 5563 5 K  Slaps total: 4590 4 K
More junkies
-15   

 4 weeks ago '20        #6
POWER RAPS  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
Props total: 22973 22 K  Slaps total: 1819 1 K
Most the workers I’ve seen at dispos look happy af. I’m dying for them to open in NY but at the same time I have a feeling ny is gonna have the worst dispo experience
+13   

 4 weeks ago '04        #7
Claudinho69 
Props total: 3915 3 K  Slaps total: 548 548
ok ill eat edibles instead of food
+3   

 4 weeks ago '16        #8
Rumble  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
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iont think i ever walked into a dispo and seen a customer pissed off lol

never walked into a dispo and seen an employee gettin cussed out

even when n*ggaz buy some bullsh*t, they just come back like "yea nah that last stuff wasn't it.... lemme try this instead"

my only complaint is half these budtenders (90%) don't know sh*t about weed and be recommending the boof "super captain crazy cookies supreme" bullsh*t instead of a fire blue dream or something
+21   

 4 weeks ago '15        #9
PolygonMafia 
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The cannabis industry is sh*t if you aren’t in the top parts of a company, a high earning contractor or owner/operator. Trust me. I’m lucky to be where I’m at and I’ve been doing this sh*t ‘legally’ since 2011, before then ‘illegally’ since 2004. I’ve had friends who are renowned growers and extractors get fu*ked right and left by the suits bringing the big money into the industry.

I’m glad people are finding work, but let’s not act like the cannabis industry isn’t just as underpaid and exploited as the rest of basic retail or specialty agriculture.

 Rumble said
my only complaint is half these budtenders (90%) don't know sh*t about weed and be recommending the boof "super captain crazy cookies supreme" bullsh*t instead of a fire blue dream or something
I mean… as someone who has had to hire a sh*tload of them over the last 10 years — They’re 15$ an hour employees who are most likely under 25 years old. You expecting them to be a weed sommelier or something? That’s like going into a McDonald’s, not knowing what you want, asking the employee what they like, they say filet o fish, you order it and then get mad they don’t have the same taste as you lol.

I get what you’re saying, a lot of budtenders are just stoned bros or 6/10 airhead white girls. But at the end of the day it’s on you to pick something you like vs holding someone accountable for your specific tastes who sees 200+ people like you a day asking them what’s dank and every single one of them has a different idea of quality, price and strain.


Last edited by PolygonMafia; 09-25-2021 at 10:37 AM..
+15   

 4 weeks ago '20        #10
blackpillblack 
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Keep that same smoke for liquor stores..
+3   

 4 weeks ago '05        #11
Fresh  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
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 Rumble said
my only complaint is half these budtenders (90%) don't know sh*t about weed and be recommending the boof "super captain crazy cookies supreme" bullsh*t instead of a fire blue dream or something
....They Are Taught To Push The Overprice & Overstock Strains On Customers. If Folks Dont Know What They Want or They're New, They Will Push That Bullsh*t First To Help with Sales.

You Have Some Budtenders That Know What They Talking About Which Is RARE!
+8   

 4 weeks ago '11        #12
awww  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x6
Props total: 54172 54 K  Slaps total: 39620 39 K
dont worry it wont for long, im working hard with my movement alot of people on here following the fu*k weed movement its really picking up. fu*k weed i will have protests soon got a few backers for the cause i may start a gofund me as well
-3   

 4 weeks ago '18        #13
Skuggs007 
Props total: 1352 1 K  Slaps total: 107 107
 awww said
dont worry it wont for long, im working hard with my movement alot of people on here following the fu*k weed movement its really picking up. fu*k weed i will have protests soon got a few backers for the cause i may start a gofund me as well
😂😂
+3   

 4 weeks ago '12        #14
Mavs In 4 
Props total: 8093 8 K  Slaps total: 1729 1 K
 Rumble said
iont think i ever walked into a dispo and seen a customer pissed off lol

never walked into a dispo and seen an employee gettin cussed out

even when n*ggaz buy some bullsh*t, they just come back like "yea nah that last stuff wasn't it.... lemme try this instead"

my only complaint is half these budtenders (90%) don't know sh*t about weed and be recommending the boof "super captain crazy cookies supreme" bullsh*t instead of a fire blue dream or something
I’ve worked at two dispensaries, and I can tell you for a fact that customers get mad all the time, whether it be for long wait times, not getting a discount they want, a certain product they want isn’t in stock, etc.

People are going into the cannabis industry thinking it’s better than retail, but it’s pretty much the same bullsh*t. Except as a budtender, you’re required to have way more knowledge than say a cashier at Kroger.
+7   

 4 weeks ago '13        #15
blackhippie4 
Props total: 4197 4 K  Slaps total: 441 441
We got a new grower that used to be a chef or something..dude brings in plates daily for people
+4   

 4 weeks ago '20        #16
POWER RAPS  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
Props total: 22973 22 K  Slaps total: 1819 1 K
 PolygonMafia said
The cannabis industry is sh*t if you aren’t in the top parts of a company, a high earning contractor or owner/operator. Trust me. I’m lucky to be where I’m at and I’ve been doing this sh*t ‘legally’ since 2011, before then ‘illegally’ since 2004. I’ve had friends who are renowned growers and extractors get fu*ked right and left by the suits bringing the big money into the industry.

I’m glad people are finding work, but let’s not act like the cannabis industry isn’t just as underpaid and exploited as the rest of basic retail or specialty agriculture.



I mean… as someone who has had to hire a sh*tload of them over the last 10 years — They’re 15$ an hour employees who are most likely under 25 years old. You expecting them to be a weed sommelier or something? That’s like going into a McDonald’s, not knowing what you want, asking the employee what they like, they say filet o fish, you order it and then get mad they don’t have the same taste as you lol.

I get what you’re saying, a lot of budtenders are just stoned bros or 6/10 airhead white girls. But at the end of the day it’s on you to pick something you like vs holding someone accountable for your specific tastes who sees 200+ people like you a day asking them what’s dank and every single one of them has a different idea of quality, price and strain.
I went to a black owned dispo outside of Boston called Seed

They ain’t have iPad menus all over the place, it was 2 informative brothers at the counter that personally walk you thru the menu. Best customer service I seen at a dispo
+8   

 4 weeks ago '05        #17
POSITIVITY  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x59
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 zone3cp said
Dude above is corny…Yall think that weird sh*t entertainment. Slap that sh*t from now on.



On to the NEWS story…The bigger the industry gets the more they gonna have to tax it. Taxing equates to legalization. It’s way too much money the federal government missing out on right now.
You honestly think you have the right to call anyone corny?


Look in the mirror fat a*s
-3   

 4 weeks ago '09        #18
messy marv stan  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x72
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 awww said
dont worry it wont for long, im working hard with my movement alot of people on here following the fu*k weed movement its really picking up. fu*k weed i will have protests soon got a few backers for the cause i may start a gofund me as well

so the $53 your gofundme scheme might raise is gonna declare war on a $25 billion industry
+1   

 4 weeks ago '15        #19
PolygonMafia 
Props total: 15145 15 K  Slaps total: 1225 1 K
 Mavs In 4 said
I’ve worked at two dispensaries, and I can tell you for a fact that customers get mad all the time, whether it be for long wait times, not getting a discount they want, a certain product they want isn’t in stock, etc.
This. As soon as weed got legal the people who were fine to suck it up waiting for 3 hours of ‘I’m 15 mins away’ in a Home Depot parking lot for a skimped dub all the sudden are completely wrecked when their wunklefunkle berry Kush isn’t 10 percent off and costs them 3 dollars more and getting super entitled from it.

I don’t work much in the stores the company I work with owns, but I do know from talking with the managers that they have to boot or call the cops on people damn near daily for acting the fool.

I’ve always said since co-owning a dispensary from 2011-2016 that running a bud shop is a mix of running a bar and a trap house. And that sh*t seems to become more true every year Can’t let people get too comfy or rowdy and at the end of the day you’re selling them a federally illegal drug
+4   

 4 weeks ago '04        #20
zone3cp 
Props total: 140724 140 K  Slaps total: 15069 15 K
 POSITIVITY said
You honestly think you have the right to call anyone corny?


Look in the mirror fat a*s
You’re a known f*g**t. U don’t have more money, bi*ches, hoes, or real life community influence than me. I served the Air Force and all u have is boxden.

Yes I’m better than you on all accounts.


You’re a fu*king weirdo that entertain homos*xual activity online and have zero “swag” or style.

Yes man pull the trigger. End it today.
+3   

 4 weeks ago '05        #21
POSITIVITY  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x59
Props total: 101045 101 K  Slaps total: 60821 60 K
 zone3cp said
You’re a known f*g**t. U don’t have more money, bi*ches, hoes, or real life community influence than me. I served the Air Force and all u have is boxden.

Yes I’m better than you on all accounts.


You’re a fu*king weirdo that entertain homos*xual activity online and have zero “swag” or style.

Yes man pull the trigger. End it today.
That’s y you sound like an idiot you were in military and have ptsd




Pray for zone



@
-2   

 4 weeks ago '15        #22
PolygonMafia 
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 POWER RAPS said
I went to a black owned dispo outside of Boston called Seed

They ain’t have iPad menus all over the place, it was 2 informative brothers at the counter that personally walk you thru the menu. Best customer service I seen at a dispo
Sounds like a hell of a place. What’s the name? I’m out that way in November when they expand our Massachusetts operation and would love to check it out.
+1   

 4 weeks ago '04        #23
zone3cp 
Props total: 140724 140 K  Slaps total: 15069 15 K
 POSITIVITY said
That’s y you sound like an idiot you were in military and have ptsd




Pray for zone



@
Hat have you don’t in life but have muliple accounts on here and have online friends?

bi*ch I know u ain’t got no friends wearing sh*t like this.



You’ll never be in life. U older than me and I have traveled and done more in life than you will ever do. Just go ahead and commit that. You stay with your mom’s. Look at me you’ll never obtain 10% of life I have lived. I don’t care who u tag. U broke and friendless.





+4   

 4 weeks ago '20        #24
POWER RAPS  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x2
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 PolygonMafia said
Sounds like a hell of a place. What’s the name? I’m out that way in November when they expand our Massachusetts operation and would love to check it out.
Seed. I think it’s in Jamaica plains if I remember right

The space they have in the store has an instillation to educate people on how we’re prosecuted unfairly and at higher rates than white people


Last edited by POWER RAPS; 09-25-2021 at 11:28 AM..

 4 weeks ago '05        #25
POSITIVITY  topics gone triple plat - Number 1 spot x59
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Lol @PTSD in the nose bleeds of a fball game and a Louie purse…


Is that supposed to impress? Grow up and get a job.
-2   



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