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How much does legal cannabis pay?

At the very beginning of the list of jobs in the cannabis industry is that of security guard, who makes between $19,000 (€17,000) and $22,300 (€20,000) per year. A head chef in the cannabis industry makes between $50,000 (€45,000) and $84,000 (€75,000) per year, while an extraction technician makes between $72,500 (€65,000) and $140,000 (€125,000) per year.



This picture show a man growing cannabis.

The cannabis industry, the leading employer in France in front of EDF / GDF, currently has 200,000 illegal workers. Since production, packaging, transport, many illegal positions are available to those who agree to defy Republican law, in order to exercise a profession in the illegal field of cannabis. People commit themselves in defiance of danger, of their freedom, sometimes even at the risk of their own lives, in order to develop a market which is admittedly prohibited, but which remains profitable.

On the other hand, in the North American states where cannabis is legal, workers are no longer subject to the law. On the contrary, in these times of COVID-19 their function was essential to society.

If you want to find more details about the level of wages in the cannabis industry and to read the most interesting cannabis news in the world, download for free the mobile app.

The security guard makes between $19,000 (€17,000) and $22,300 (€20,000) per year

At the very beginning of the list of jobs in the cannabis industry is that of the security guard, who makes between $19,000 (€17,000) and $22,300 (€20,000) per year (gross estimate). Often poorly paid, these jobs require few qualifications. Aside from burglaries at night, security in clinics in the US and Canada poses few problems in itself. Regarding armed robbery, it is simply not the responsibility of these employees, whose orders are often to let the police handle and especially not to try to oppose it.

The security officer generally spends his days verifying that the passport photo is that of the person who is facing him and examining video surveillance screens. Most of the time in the USA these jobs are entrusted to veterans of the American army.

Between $25,000 (€22,500) and $30,000 (€27,500) per year (gross estimate) for cannabis trimmers

Often poorly considered, these jobs remain relatively well paid because of their vital nature: transforming raw flowers into cut flowers, ready for drying. Some machines do the job, but nothing can replace the quality of the work done by hand with care, as all specialists will confirm. The trimmers are often paid, not by the hour, but by the result. Their daily gain level then depends exclusively on the amount of flowers cut.

These jobs rarely benefit from real social security coverage. However, they can also offer additional bonuses depending on the level of productivity. It is exclusively repetitive work, which has long been entrusted to seasonal workers or migrants. It is practiced seated and requires a prolonged capacity for concentration.

Labor is always needed in abundance at harvest time. Most of these are subcontractors who provide this essential service to farmers. An influx of workers, most of whom live in difficult living conditions and total insecurity. That is particularly true on the west coast of the USA. Netflix has also devoted an excellent documentary to the effects and often tragic consequences of precarious or seasonal jobs in this emerging industry. Notice to adventure seekers, because of a certain illegality which has become the rule, things are sometimes very confusing, the danger of never coming home is real.

Between $31,000 (€28,000) and $44,700 (€40,000) per year (gross estimate) for budtenders

A budtender is the person present at the counter. This work requires good presentation, very good listening and a good understanding of the elementary aspects of human psychology. Some knowledge in medicine is a must.

However, it is especially necessary to know by heart each of the varieties of cannabis present on the market. Knowing how to distinguish them only by smell is the daily challenge of a good budtender.

The budtender is the face of the dispensary and mainly has to know how to manage three things: time, cannabis, and customers. Their salaries are often accompanied by small bonuses offered free of charge by satisfied customers.

The gardener’s assistants gain between $39,000 (€35,000) and $50,000 (€45,000) per year

It is in these positions that many French people, with their domestic experience, hope to get the dream job in the USA. However, this is not an easy job at all.

An assistant grower is required to be in good physical health and is usually a job for young and energetic people. Moreover, such a job requires basic knowledge of botany and chemistry, perfect control of cannabis as a plant, perfect knowledge of IT tools, and rigor in the work: foolproof.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not easy to be an assistant gardener of cannabis.

Add to this an obligation to achieve results and enormous pressure on a daily basis. It is one of the most versatile and demanding jobs in the cannabis industry. Large economic responsibilities cyclically rest on the shoulders of the assistant gardener.

Head Chef: Responsible for Cannabis edibles

A head chef in the cannabis industry makes between $50,000 (€45,000) and $84,000 (€75,000) per year (estimation on gross). Often far from toques and colanders, the food manager looks more like an industrial technician. He or she must have a good knowledge of plants, cooking and industrial production standards.

In their race for profit, companies tend to want to control the entire cannabis chain from production to the end customer. This of course involves the transformation of cannabis into various edible products. According to the greatest specialists, eating cannabis seems to be the best way to consume it, from a medical point of view.

Engineer specializing in cannabis concentrates

An extraction technician makes between $72,500 (€65,000) and $140,000 (€125,000) per year (estimate on gross). This work requires not only a very advanced knowledge of chemistry, microbiology, or electricity but also, and above all, it requires a love of botany and a certain ‘taste for the good things.’

The engineer guarantees the quality of the result and the purity of the extractions. This methodical role also requires an understanding of medical cannabis, and therefore of the human body. Very heavy responsibilities weigh on the shoulders of this person in charge in the company. His mistakes and omissions can be counted in millions of Euros, as well as his successes.

A cannabis outlet owner wage is accordingly to the size of its company

A cannabis outlet owner can make between $207,000 (€185,000) and $2.8 million (€2.5 million) per year (estimated gross + profit). In the maelstrom of the early days of the cannabis industry in the US, and probably up until the federal legalization that is coming, these bosses are mostly adventurers.

Contrary to popular belief, dividends and bonuses are taken into account. Of course, the various sizes of companies give rise to huge wage differentials. Nevertheless, based on some estimates by Forbes, Globenewswire and Marketwatch, it does indeed seem that the average salary of a dispensary owner in the United States is around $765,000 (€685,000).


(Featured image by Terre di Cannabis via Unsplash)

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Michael Jermaine Cards is a business executive and a financial journalist, with a focus on IT, innovation and transportation, as well as crypto and AI. He writes about robotics, automation, deep learning, multimodal transit, among others. He updates his readers on the latest market developments, tech and CBD stocks, and even the commodities industry. He does management consulting parallel to his writing, and has been based in Singapore for the past 15 years.