The legal cannabis industry is exploding as legalization hits more states across the United States. The market is growing at a rapid pace and job openings are multiplying, with new opportunities opening up daily. The cannabis world is your oyster, and diving into the application process headfirst can be incredibly rewarding. Accepting a job in the booming cannabis industry could be a lucrative and professionally fulfilling career move, whether you’re fresh out of college or have been gainfully employed for more than a decade. You’re never too old or too experienced to try something new, however, because the legal cannabis industry is still a fairly new market, there are several important things you should consider before you choose to seek employment in the space. 

Primarily, potential employees should be well aware that joining the cannabis world is a bit like entering the Wild West, with lots of unanswered questions but endless room for opportunity and growth. It’s important to think about what is driving you to work in cannabis in the first place. Why does the cannabis industry interest you? When did this interest begin and how have you been fostering it? If you want to work at a dispensary, ask yourself, “Why do I want to work at a dispensary?” and then prepare yourself by studying up on dispensary job interview questions and prepare some of your answers ahead of time. Diving deep into your professional purpose, needs and desires will inform a thorough and successful job search. With marijuana still illegal on a federal level, however, it’s important to note that there is no federal oversight of the industry at all, leaving cannabis employees and companies with unanswered questions and blindspots at times. Many state governments completely refuse to get involved with the industry, which can leave both potential and current employees feeling vulnerable and uncertain without protection if things don’t work out.

What’s one easy way to ensure that you’re taking a position with a good company that values and protects all of its employees? Ask the right cannabis-related interview questions when you’re having conversations with your potential employer and your potential colleagues. To help with this process, we’ve rounded up six questions that all potential cannabis industry employees should think about and consider when they’re preparing to enter the interview process. Whether it’s a dispensary interview or a packaging manager interview, read on to be sure you’ve studied up and you’re ready to take on the conversation with ease.

How many hours does this position require a week?

The cannabis industry can feel a lot like a giant startup, which can often come with unexpected hours and unpredictable time input. Whether you’re working at a dispensary or working as a packaging manager, just like any startup, hours can be long and the work can be demanding. While this is true of many positions in dozens of industries across the board, the difference with the cannabis industry is that the long hours aren’t always addressed from the start. Occasionally this is because the potential employees who are being interviewed don’t ask. Instead, they assume they’ll be working a standard 40-hour week, and they’re surprised when things unfurl differently. Other times, it’s because hiring managers don’t address the time commitment from the beginning in an effort to lock in a great candidate without scaring them away. Either way, ask upfront and make sure your contract ensures that you won’t be held to unpaid overtime or unanticipated standards down the line.

How does the payment process work for cannabis employees?

Some banks and payroll companies won’t work directly with dispensaries, which can definitely make things complicated when it comes to getting paid. Because of the federal regulations, the money surrounding the product can be tricky, leaving many organizations unwilling to tie themselves to legal cannabis companies. As a result, some employers decide that it’s best to pay their employees in all cash without taking out any taxes. This means that there isn’t always a good and reliable record of how much money you make or when you will get paid. This can also mean that you have to set aside money for state and federal taxes all year long in order to avoid having to come up with the money you might owe at the end of the year. While cannabis is definitely not the only industry that pays in cash or does not take taxes out of paychecks throughout the year, it’s always better to know how money and wages will be handled before you commit to a job.

What benefits do you provide?

Most major companies, especially those in the CPG world, provide benefits like insurance, paid time off and 401(K)s for their employees. But for reasons similar to those of the banks, some insurance companies won’t work with marijuana companies. This leaves employees without any benefits through their company, and in a scramble to find insurance coverage and retirement planning options on their own. There are dozens of reputable companies that offer these things, but again, it’s important to know before you sign a contract whether or not you’ll be needing to source these options for yourself and your family or not.

Is this company licensed?

Federally, marijuana is illegal. This means that companies, even reputable ones, are susceptible to raids and “cease-to-operate” orders by the federal government. Generally speaking, at this point, the federal government has allowed licensed cannabis companies to continue to conduct business as long as they’re in a state that has legalized marijuana. But they are far less tolerant of unlicensed companies, who aren’t paying their taxes and who are, essentially, operating illegally. Working for a licensed company pretty much guarantees job security as long as the company stays afloat. Working for an unlicensed company means that your job could be at risk, as the company could be shut down at any time. Ensuring your future employer is a registered business is vital in ensuring that you’re making a wise career choice.

What duties and responsibilities are included in a dispensary job?

Dispensary interview questions can cover a wide range of topics, depending on where you’re interviewing, what the culture of the dispensary is like, and what your past experience is. When you’re preparing for dispensary interview questions and answers, think about what you’re looking for in a job and how the specific dispensary could be a good fit. Ask about the culture, the hours, the pay, and the future of the dispensary. Think about where you see yourself in the next year or two years, and ask the interviewer about their own experience at the dispensary. Visiting a dispensary on your own before applying to the job could be a good way to pick up on the energy and culture of the space and team, too.

What duties and responsibilities are included in a packaging manager job?

Packaging manager interview questions can be tricky, especially because it’s a role that’s constantly developing in the cannabis world. During a packaging manager interview, it’s important to ask about what your day-to-day might look like. Your responsibilities will likely include checking on compliance regulations and requirements with packaging, but also identifying ways to improve packaging in the future to optimize efficiency and consistency across the board. 

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This article was last updated on August 4, 2022