Thu. Jun 30th, 2022

Photo by Cannabis Reports via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The cannabis industry is one of the most rapidly growing industries in the United States. In a recent study, estimates legal sales will reach $30 Billion by 2025. With a rapidly growing multi-billion dollar industry comes thousands of new job opportunities. There is a wide range of jobs available in the industry — many of which don’t actually involve working hands-on with marijuana or cannabis plants. Even if you have no interest in the cannabis plant itself, you may still find a job opening in the cannabis industry that suits you. I asked Jessica Collazo, Community Outreach Coordinator of the Lehigh Valley dispensary, Keystone Canna Remedies, some questions about her experience in the cannabis industry.


What was your major in college, and what did you do before you got into cannabis? 

I have a Bachelor’s in Sociology with a minor in Psychology. Prior to working for Keystone Canna Remedies (KCR), I worked for the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce where I helped manage their Business and Diversity Councils and planned networking and educational events. 


What made you want to get into cannabis, and where did you start? 

I have been an advocate for marijuana for as long as I can remember. In college, my last assignment before graduation was to write about my goals for the next five years. I wrote about working in the cannabis industry. When I saw that Keystone Canna Remedies was hiring, I immediately applied. I was excited about the opportunity to work for a family-run dispensary in the Lehigh Valley. I started as a receptionist, and after a few months, I moved into the position. I’m now the Community Outreach Coordinator.


What is your role in your company? 

I am the Community Outreach Coordinator for Keystone Canna Remedies, and I have taken on other roles within the business. I represent KCR at local events and coordinate educational presentations and/or training for local organizations. I also plan conferences and workshops to educate physicians, patients, caregivers and the general public on medical marijuana. Education is key to changing the stigma. 


What skills would you look for in a new employee? 

Cannabis knowledge is not a requirement, as that will come with training and experience with this being a new industry in Pennsylvania. Customer service experience or [experience] in the medical field is a plus, especially in PA, where we only have a medical program. The patients we see daily may be undergoing chemotherapy treatments, suffer from chronic pain or neuropathies, so emotional intelligence and patience are very important when interacting with patients from various backgrounds and diagnoses. 


What can I do while I’m still in college to prepare for a career in cannabis? 

There are many resources available to gain knowledge [of] cannabis. I recommend taking online classes or workshops and doing your own research on cannabis and the industry trends in your own state. Look up internship opportunities at dispensaries or grow facilities to get hands-on experience. 


If I want to work in the cannabis industry after I graduate, what is the best way to get my foot in the door? 

Employees in the cannabis industry come from all types of backgrounds. As with anything, it’s important to network and create a personal brand. There are more and more cannabis events in Pennsylvania such as workshops and conferences where you have the opportunity to learn about the growers and processors and dispensaries in the state and network. You never know who you may meet. With an emerging industry, there are always new opportunities. 


Cannabis is still an emerging industry. How competitive is the job market? 

Bigger cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have more dispensaries which, as a result, will have more job opportunities. The Lehigh Valley area where KCR is, for example, has a total of four dispensaries at the moment. There are still job opportunities available, just not as many as larger cities.


What is the best state to live in to get a job in the cannabis industry? 

It depends on whether you would like to get into the medical or adult-use market. Major cities located in states that have fully legalized marijuana use would have more opportunities. There are currently 33 states plus three territories that have a medical program and 14 states that legalized recreational adult use. Pennsylvania only has a medical program, but that does not mean that there are limited job opportunities. The industry is growing!


Is your job a rewarding job? 

Every day, there is at least one patient that thanks us profusely for the impact marijuana has had on their life. Even if I’ve had a rough day, I go home with a grateful heart knowing one person may be sleeping better, moving better and feeling better.


Jacob Gassler is a third year media and culture major with a minor in journalism.


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