A new report from The New York Times spotlights the powerful cannabis “job machine” in America. Looking at data from job websites like ZipRecruiter and Indeed, the Times found that at least 200,000 to 300,000 cannabis jobs were created last year alone. The website Glassdoor also reports a 76% percent growth in weed job openings last December, compared to the same period the year before.
So, it’s raining weed and it’s raining jobs in the U.S. right now. The question, though, is what kind of jobs is it creating?
Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told the times that most of those jobs are either in “rote” agricultural work such as plant trimming, which pays between $10 and $15 an hour, or in budtending, which she says pays roughly $25,000 a year.
However, Pollak also pointed to openings in more specialized fields for positions like chemists, nurses, and computer engineers. “The early signs are that this will grow rapidly,” she said.
She doesn’t say it explicitly, but those job titles imply a certain level of education, like a masters degree.
A few years ago, one of the things that drew people to the cannabis was that you didn’t need a college degree to be successful. Many successful early extractors and cultivators we interviewed at Dabs Magazine had no formal education in chemistry or botany. They were self-taught scientists, and many of them were very good at it.
The picture of the cannabis job market painted by the Times is one which is a whole lot like most other job markets. Getting a good job that means getting a degree. In a country where the average student loan debt is $38,000, that means a great unevening of the playing field.
Of course, we all stand to benefit from genius PhD chemists making crazy innovations in the world of extracts. And we also stand to benefit from knowing our extract wasn’t made in some idiot’s dirt pile behind their house. However, it can’t help but feel a little bit like paradise lost to know that there might not be those same job opportunities open to whoevever wants to work for it. Instead, it looks like it will largely benefit those who already have lots of money and the college degrees that money buys. And everyone else can trim bud for $10 an hour.