Looking for a job in New York’s cannabis industry? Here’s how to get started

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — New York’s fledgling adult-use cannabis industry has not only brought legal marijuana to the state, but also thousands of new employment opportunities.

Whether it’s growing the plant, processing products, selling them at a dispensary, or delivering them directly to residents’ front doors, there’s no shortage of ways to get involved in New York’s cannabis industry.

Last week, the five-borough Lift Off! Cannabis NYC Listening and Learning Tour, designed to educate New York City residents about the state’s legal cannabis industry, held an event at Staten Island University Hospital Community Park in St. George.

Among those tabling at the event was the New York State Cannabis Workforce Initiative (CWI), an organization dedicated to providing workforce development and legal education to residents looking to take their first steps in joining the state’s adult-use cannabis industry.

“We got started with state-allocated funds in collaboration with the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations and the Workforce Development Institute, which allows us to provide free educational and training services,” said Kayvon Reid, CWI community engagement coordinator.

The organization offers a wide range of free in-person and online workforce development training opportunities, including the 10-week Cannabis Career Exploration and Worker Rights Certificate Program, which covers everything New Yorkers need to know about working in the industry.

“We have the 10-week online certification course where we talk about plant science, manufacturing and processing, health and safety, compliance, and workers’ rights within the cannabis industry,” Reid said.

The online program covers the following topics.

  • History of Cannabis Laws and Industry Overview
  • The Cannabis Plant and Cultivation Jobs
  • Cannabis Legalization and What it Means for You
  • Working in a Dispensary
  • Jobs in Extraction and Manufacturing
  • Health and Safety in the Cannabis Industry
  • Your Rights at Work
  • Seed-to-Sale Compliance
  • How are You Protected from Discrimination and Harassment?
  • Other Opportunities in the Cannabis Industry

Those who aren’t ready to commit to the full, 10-week program still have a variety of resources at their disposal to learn about the industry, with the CWI offering on-demand training videos that residents can view at their own pace.

One of the most sought-after positions among prospective cannabis workers are ‘budtenders,’ the front-facing dispensary workers who help customers select the right products for them, whether that’s flower, oil, edibles or anything else.

“Right now, budtending has been the trendy position. That’s been one of the biggest and highest in demand,” Reid said. “A budtender is the person who identifies exactly what the customers are looking for in their products.”

While New York City residents may believe that the only opportunities in the Big Apple will be through retail stores and delivery services, the mayoral administration is making a concerted push to develop a comprehensive, self-sustaining industry within New York City, including cultivation sites and processing facilities.

These jobs would include the…

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