marijuana tie

As the cannabis industry continues to blossom, economic opportunities abound – including increased employment for a wide range of professionals. Image from

If the booming marijuana industry means anything to the majority of people, it means opportunity. We’re talking about opportunities for all-around wellness and progress – and of course the economic advantages are beyond exciting.

In Colorado alone, more than 16,000 jobs have been created within the cannabis industry. And, as the Marijuana Policy Project points out, this number does not include the boost seen in collateral sectors such as real estate, law, accounting, and tourism.

A lot of marijuana jobs include what you might expect, like budtenders, trimmers, and growers. But within that same industry there are other high-skill positions which few of us saw coming.

1. State Compliance Officers

Who would’ve ever thought that the government would be hiring people to actually tend to a sanctioned marijuana industry? It’s pretty unbelievable – and yet, here we are.

holding a back of Green Crack

Somebody has to make sure cannabis dispensaries comply with state regulations. This is where state compliance officers come in.

States need actual cannabis regulators to ensure that those working in the industry are playing by the rules, and staying compliant with the guidelines approved by voters. Previously, the only government job similar to this was probably with the DEA, conducting costly and invasive raids.

For states like Oregon, which is in the process of implementing its legalization laws and opening up the industry, opportunities abound to get in on the ground floor.

The need for compliance officers will continue to grow as new states join the legitimate cannabis space. This will translate to some solid, well-paying positions for professionals who are willing to work in and around the industry.

2. Venture Capitalists

Every industry has its bankrollers – but in an industry that is literally budding, such as the cannabis industry, money and investors are as important as anyone.

entrepreneur pitches to investors

An entrepreneur gives his big pitch to a room full of investors. No pressure!

In fact, the opening up of the marijuana markets, state by state, is providing what is likely a once-in-a-generation opportunity for investors who are willing to put their money to work. It’s all at their own risk, of course, seeing as how cannabis is still federally outlawed.

But investors are starting to see that there is a potential windfall, a chance for explosive returns on the other end of the legalization movement. With the federal government staying out of the way, for now, venture capital firms and private investors are beginning to put their money into play. There are even conferences and other events aimed at attracting capital to the industry.

Not only do these investors have an opportunity to make a lot of money, they also play a big role in guiding the future of the cannabis business. As inventors and entrepreneurs pitch new devices, products, and business models, the ones who receive funding will have the best chance of surviving – and shaping the industry as it evolves.

Big money makes a lot of people wary, but if the cannabis industry wants to truly grow up then attracting capital is going to be a part of the process.

3. Professors

There’s no doubt about it: the world needs cannabis professors as it adopts “higher” education.

teacher demonstrates cannabis horticulture

Cannabis horticulture is just one of many pot-related university courses available now.

If you, like almost everyone else, thought that the only way marijuana and education could possibly mix are during post-midterm burn sessions, or at any number of college parties – guess again.

Some higher education institutions are starting to see that legalization looks like an inevitability. In turn, they are are now offering students a chance to learn the skills to build a successful career within the new industry.

For example, Colorado’s industry is funding a new professorship at the University of Denver, specializing in marijuana law. It’s exciting to see the industry investing in its future like this. They are influencing the next batch of marijuana professionals who will, one day, take over the reins. And there are other examples out there as well.

A community college in Maryland is offering a class called “Entrepreneurial Opportunities in Emerging Markets: Marijuana Legalization,” which aims to teach students the economics and business opportunities within the industry.

And, of course, you can’t forget about other, more specialized institutions like Oaksterdam University, which offer cannabis-specific courses in everything from business to cooking to science to law and horticulture.

4. The Marijuana Media

Ricardo Baca interviews for the Cannabist

During an episode of the Cannabist Show, journalist and editor Ricardo Baca (right) interviews a talented professional from the marijuana industry. Image from

The marijuana industry is seeing a cascade of cannabis-centric media organizations grow up right alongside it, cataloging and documenting every phase of the legalization movement.

While there have been some organizations and media companies out there for years, such as High Times, marijuana is working its way into the mainstream media.

If you had suggested a decade ago that a major newspaper, like the Denver Post, would one day have a ‘Marijuana Editor’, you would’ve likely been laughed out of the room. Yet, that position exists, and many others like it.

These are jobs being staffed by professional journalists, who are finding their way into the industry to satisfy the growing demand for cannabis coverage. Marijuana is still brand-new to a lot of people, and there is a real hunger for credible information.

5. Scientists

If there is one industry that is primed to make some big bucks from cannabis legalization, it’s probably the biotech field.

scientists check cannabis plant

Scientists check cannabis plants for potency, cannabinoid profiles, and much more. Image from

We know, and the government has finally admitted, that cannabis has some incredible medical potential, and by harnessing and commercializing that potential, there are billions to be made (not to mention the number of lives that will be transformed in the name of wellness). But it’ll take some real, highly-trained, and decorated scientists to get us there.

There are many roles for science professionals in the cannabis industry, and they will become more and more ubiquitous as biotech and pharma companies climb on board. There is and will be a need for botanists, chemists, geneticists, etc. – all needed to create and cultivate new cannabis strains, derivatives, and medicines.

Scientists are generally fascinated by the properties and overall potential of this plant. As marijuana continues to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the public, the U.S. government will hopefully continue to loosen regulations that currently inhibit researchers from learning everything they can about this medicinal herb.

6. Marijuana Marketing

marijuana marketing image

In the area of cannabis marketing there is a huge demand for creative marketing strategies and solid PR skills to further de-stigmatize the plant.

The fact that in certain parts of the country a person can walk into a store and purchase legal bud is pretty amazing. What’s even more amazing – even unbelievable at certain levels – is that there are people out there whose job it is to market that cannabis product and drive customers in the door.

Yes, just like any other retail business, the cannabis industry needs marketing professionals, and it’s an area where many people looking for a career-switch can make an entrance.

There’s a lot of work to do, too. Marijuana has been a taboo subject for so many years, that the entire concept of legalization is hard for some people to digest. PR and marketing professionals are currently working to make that transition easier. They’re also putting together political and advertising campaigns, networks, and even entire firms dedicated to the cannabis industry.

Imagine thinking as a kid that you could one day be the Don Draper of pot? It’s quite remarkable how far we’ve come.

Attracting high-caliber professionals

And that’s the gist of it all: nobody saw it coming. And that goes to prove that there are tons of opportunities for everyone to get involved in the cannabis industry – and that there are a wide array of potential jobs, not just helping people pick out the right sativa.

As marijuana legalization continues to unfold and the industry continues to grow, it will attract greater numbers of high-caliber professionals and creative talent, healthy competition, and plenty of opportunity.

Want to learn more about the ins and outs of the cannabis industry? Be sure to check out The Cannabis Manifesto by Steve DeAngelo, which hits bookshelves September 22.

If you’re interested in cannabis but don’t know much about Steve, check out this amazing mini-documentary today.