“There is essentially just a lot of opportunity and if you get involved and put your name out there and show the skills that you have and you're willing to, you know, maybe do a little bit more legwork than you might have to do to get into another industry, you have a good chance of becoming a groundbreaking person in this space.”
— Andrew Ward
As we advance into the post-prohibition era, the cannabis economy is migrating from underground to out in the open. There are new jobs in cannabis agriculture and production, marketing and distribution, compliance and law, and many other fields. The opportunities are many, but what do you look for in this exciting new job market? Our guest Andrew Ward wrote the book for cannabis job seekers and anyone else eager to learn about his emerging sector of the economy. Listen and learn!
Kannaboomers (00:00): It's Tom. Welcome back to the Kannaboomers podcast. Hey, for a few dozen episodes now we've been talking to various experts in law and culture and science. And we finally found somebody to talk about cannabis jobs. And that's actually the name of Andrew Ward's book, Cannabis Jobs: How to Make a Living and Have a Career in the World of Legalized Marijuana. Because we're reaching that point where it's legal now in 30 some states, 12 states for adult use. The possibility of full federal legalization is upon us. Could happen soon or further down the road, but it's anticipated. So it's turning into a real industry. So if you wanted to work in this industry, what should you do? Andrew has given that a lot of thought and written a nice book about it with a lot of good advice and he shares that advice with us today. One thing he says: Show up. Show up at events, show up online and bring your full self and you'll help your odds. Enjoy the conversation. Stop and see us at Kannaboomers dot com for more content and to let us know how we're doing.
Kannaboomers (01:03): This is, Let's Talk About Weed, the Kannaboomers Podcast. CBD, microdosing, and all things related to medical cannabis for baby boomers. From San Diego, here's your host, Thomas J. Really excited to have Andrew Ward on the show this week. Andrew has a new book out called Cannabis Jobs: How to Make a Living and Have a Career in the World of Legalized Marijuana. Hey Andrew, how are you?
Andrew Ward (01:25): Doing well, thanks. Are you very good. Thanks.
Kannaboomers (01:27): You're coming to us from New York?
Andrew Ward (01:28): Yes, in Brooklyn.
Kannaboomers (01:30): Nice. How's the weather there today?
Andrew Ward (01:32): It's a bit dreary where in that malaise of, you know, maybe in the fall, maybe in the winter, depending on the day that we're in New York, but really can't complain. It's the weekend and it's enjoyable regardless.
Kannaboomers (01:43): Well, I want to congratulate you on the publication of your book. It's certainly a necessary book. There's a lot of people thinking about this booming market and, and how to move into it. And I found your book to be very comprehensive. You cover a lot of sectors including technology and government, dispensaries, and all that stuff. There's a lot of homework that you must've done. How did you do your research?
Andrew Ward (02:04): Yeah, so first of all, thank you for the congratulations. I appreciate that. The response from the cannabis community has been great and to like from guys like you and people out there, it's really been amazing. When he came to the research of the book, I think I might have a little bit more of an original story than some of the others had. I actually didn't pitch the book. I was contacted by the publisher Skyhorse to get involved with the book. So I was asked during the process of setting everything up to quote timeframe of when I thought I could actually deliver the book and everything. And I told them six weeks, which if anyone has ever given that opportunity to quote a time, they can write a book, don't say six weeks. You definitely want more time. So I was you know, with that in mind, I, I said six weeks because I thought I had enough resources from my past writing as well. Some of the beats I did where I knew what I wanted to cover and had the, which was true, but to source that information to the expert opinions and the diverse background and startups, the more established brands that were there, it was going to take longer. So doing all that research really once again was a testament to the cannabis community. I had a lot of great people from working on help, a reporter out public relations connections that I had, businesses that I knew directly, entrepreneurs that I knew directly. They all were really helpful in getting responses to me, whether it be through phone calls or through written emails or just back and forth conversations that we had. I really want to give a major credit to Lulu Sweet, she's an entrepreneur. A lot of people in the New York community, Nora is one of the cofounders of Rebel Networking Community. Basically I told her, you know, I have this book, it's due in six weeks and I need a list resources. And he came through probably in about a span of two hours, connecting me with about 60, 65 different people in the space across all the different chapters that you see in the book. And from there she got me rolling with the, a lot of these people and then a lot of phone interviews, a lot of email interviews on top of that as well as additional research and just trying to get that all done while also still writing as a freelance writer. And I decided to adopt a dog on top of it at the same time. So it was a busy month and a half or so.
Kannaboomers (04:13): I've worked on book length projects and yeah, six weeks is a sprint. It's a full out sprint.
Andrew Ward (04:18): I'm highly not recommending it. I would say don't do it. But yeah, that was a, it's a, an, an endeavor that I can say I did and it's done and over with. And now I have a little bit more length to work with on other projects. But thankfully going back to the research point of the question the cannabis industry has so much to research on that you kind of just pick and choose your sources and you kind of go from there. And thankfully, working within the industry, I knew for job stories that there's great companies like banks that are actually placing people in the industry. Great websites like Benzinga (self-promotion a little bit to the side I write for), but also MJ Biz Daily. And a lot of other publications like Leafly and other ones that are putting out great comprehensive reports and data and it really helped get the project moving along.
Kannaboomers (05:00): Well, I'm just flipping through it and on almost every page you're citing an expert or you know, some company. So yeah, you are very busy there for six weeks and it shows because it's just so comprehensive and, and well cited.
Andrew Ward (05:14): Appreciate it. Thank you very much. Yeah, that was my main concern as I've never written a book. And you know, to be a writer in the cannabis industry, I feel like there's a lot of responsibility to be something of effective and, you know, especially I think as being a white man who in the cannabis space, it's even more of an emphasis of correcting a lot of the quality and the diversity and inclusion issues that we've had in a different space as well as in cannabis. Oh, to write that book, I felt there was a lot of responsibility of making sure I deliver on volume information for people that can actually take this information and move it into finding an actual job with it.
Kannaboomers (05:47): I was struck by your dedication to my family and friends who made this possible. "Mom, Dad, Hobbs, Jamie, Gab, Oliver, and Delhi in particular thanks to my detractors as well." Yeah, I like that. There's something about this space, right? Where there's still people taking shots at cannabis, it happens every day, but it was nice of you to give a nod to those people. Maybe we can convince them and bring them around at some point.
Andrew Ward (06:13): You know, to clarify, I would say my detractors, there's kind of extend even further back just to people saying that you can never be a writer. I graduated after the great recession and I was always told to take this job and just be thankful for what you have. And I think detractors, whether it be in cannabis or elsewhere, there's a lot of people that don't really understand the situation or they only understand it from their own [inaudible]. Okay. And you know, there's a lot more opportunities out there. So as much as I don't want to say I'm spiteful, I would say there is some level of spite that definitely between those people telling me you're not doing the right thing or you're making the wrong decision, the book is just further validation that says, you know, be committed to what you believe in and work hard for it and you can get there. But sure.
Andrew Ward (06:51): To, to your point about cannabis though, you're absolutely right. There's tons of detractors still from the legislative side, from in the communities in families, you know, depending if you're religious or not. There's a lot of different barriers in place and there was nonsense. But we also have to remember that we've been dealing with a hundred plus years of, or a hundred or so years prohibition and just outright lies and propaganda and misinformation about why and what it can do to people. So, you know, unfortunately those detractors, cause you don't want them to be there and they're kind of expected at this point. There's a great book coming out or just came out by a Roger Obondo who was one of the cofounders of Baker Technologies. And it's called The Higher Common Denominator. And it's about a call to action, a lot of these communities are back involved in entrepreneurism, in cannabis and he details some of the reasons why these people are held back. And it is those detractors, you know, whether it be religion believing that maybe there is a conflict between where you're a religious ethics and what cannabis is doing or the war on drugs and how it's actually affected some of these families directly. There's a lot of people giving reasons why not to get involved. And those ones I would say are actually more on the valid side. You hope. See those getting broken down because they've proven themselves not to be true, but it's kind of understood that they're still there. But ones that I think are a bit more frustrating are on the legislative side. I'm in the New York, New Jersey area and in New Jersey you see a lot of people on the legislative side from Democrats and Republicans both dragging their feet on it. And a lot of times mentioned these very antiquated measures, essentially calling it devil's lettuce, like really old school stuff that you think needs to be taken out of there. And one of the advocates in New Jersey, Leo Bridgewater I think describes the best when he said, when you're dealing with lawmakers in New Jersey, you're either dealing with the progressives who want to get cannabis through and he calls them the Jetsons. Or a lot of the people that are the Flintstones that are dragging their feet during the old times and they're just not really wanting to see progress on it. And a lot of it is, you know, reluctance and I'm sure there is probably some influence from business that's a kind of shaping those sort of detractors.
Kannaboomers (08:58): Well, and to the first part of this comment, the motivation of someone telling you there's something you can't do is very powerful and I'm glad you're able to turn that to your advantage.
Andrew Ward (09:08): Yeah. Thank you. Yeah, it's you know, I, I think it's a call to everyone. You know, when, especially in a space where there's a lot of opportunity, you know, it's valid that people are going to be scared, they're going to be concerned about it. But if you know the cannabis industry and if you've gotten into this community, you understand what it's about you, there is always going to be room for failure potentially. But I think that in this space of, you know, the right people, you're connected, you're working hard, there's a good chance that you'll, you'll succeed. Especially as it's developing right now.
Kannaboomers (09:36): There's the truism about the gold rush and that the people who were selling picks and shovels back in the 1840s were the ones who really made out. If that holds true, what's happening in the green rush, who are the people who are going to really do well as cannabis, as the industry expands and matures?
Andrew Ward (09:53): Well, you know, either you're directly touching the plant or the ancillary businesses, there's a lot more opportunity and less legal struggle in the ancillary side. So that I would say is a good recommendation to start there, but that leaves it with a wide open area. So really the big question is what are you good at? What are your skills? Because one of the best things I was taught in the cannabis space was basically everything that you have in job skills can be applied to cannabis. So I see a lot of opportunity in marketing. There are a lot of hurdles in the marketing area. Google, Facebook, a lot of social media platform stores, cannabis advertising. How are you going to get a brand out there? How can you preemptively establish a brand without those, without those proper channels that everyone else is using? If you can assert yourself as being a leader in that area, you're really solidifying yourself as one of the top names in the space and very early on to a developing area. Um another one I would say is compliance. If you have any sort of legal wisdom expertise that you can bring to the cannabis industry, a lot of companies are going to need that. Whether it be a large company and where you're seeing mistakes are happening, like in Canada CanTrust was a major mistake that should have been avoided. They could have used a company, I'm not saying I know what that company was, but there's a good chance they probably needed someone on the compliance side. With large companies is also the same case with small ones as well. A lot of these companies don't think they need to invest right away in compliance in those sorts of things. And I've learned from a lot of other companies is that's not the case. You need to have someone that matches the size of your company and the growth that you want to be at, so you can be compliant and make sure that the company is growing ethically and legally. That's a huge benefit that you're going to see a lot of opportunity. The only two areas that you look at. So I really say tap into what, you know, look into the cannabis industry. Maybe if you haven't yet, start attending events. Let's see what's going on in your local market. See if you want to go onto the national stage, potentially even the international market. There's a lot of things, they've been a lot of opportunities that are gonna be there. Some glaring and some not.
Kannaboomers (11:53): On the compliance side, you have to be compliant or you're going to be shut down. And, and, and in marketing, if you don't have a market for your product or service, so again, you're, you're not gonna make it. But I noticed like your second chapter was on tech, and that's something that maybe a lot of the audience wouldn't think of right away. But you know, software, applications, devices, there's a lot of innovation happening in this space too.
Andrew Ward (12:15): Yeah, there absolutely is a kind of, as tech is, it's rapidly moving, rapidly growing. And just a few short years I've been here, extraction technology was one of the largest things to blow up. You know, just a few years ago, commercial grade extraction had to be using a butane or other chemicals to do it. Now we're starting to see solvents get closer to that area. We're seeing a lot of technology in terms of how to increase capabilities with carbon dioxide extraction as well as I keep pressure with rosin. So that's one area that's really big. One of the companies that I mentioned quite often in the book is called Arden. They're based in Massachusetts. They focus just strictly on decarboxylation, which is heating the plant, to take from the converted from THCA to THC. So there are a lot of different areas in that regard.
Andrew Ward (13:03): But then we also have to look at ad tech marketing compliance technology. One of the biggest companies around they used to be known as MJ Freeway, but now they are Akerna, they're compliance technology in the cannabis industry that certain states are employed in. So there really is, you know, that that first start you're like, maybe I'll make a vape cartridge or I'll work on something that'll help with, you know, maybe like helping with a grinder making it more automatic, which are products out there. But then there's also these really deep dives, whether it be helping dispensaries run, get ads, data management. There's really a lot of areas. And again, I think it's the testament that a pose back to others, or, I'm sorry, I'm tripping on my words here. I think it goes back to the golden rule really right now is anything that you have a skill in can be brought into cannabis. So what, what ideas do you have or what tech development skills do you have? It depends. You could apply those right into the cannabis space today.
Kannaboomers (13:58): One thing that's easy to overlook too is there has been any economy in an industry, it's just been underground for a hundred years as it comes above ground. Do you see it sort of as in a slow and steady fashion or do you see sort of an explosion of activity happening?
Andrew Ward (14:13): OK, so I mean the last year or so have you seen a bit of both? It was really quiet for a time during last summer and then this year it got very active there. Same thing. I've heard a lot of people saying heading into the new year last year it was rather quiet. This time around it seems we're going nonstop. But then at the flip side of that, you know, we're entering a bear market. We're seeing stocks largely starting to go down in the cannabis space. We've seen companies like Med Men lay off nearly 200 people. So it's really going to be interesting to see what happens. I think, you know, from a non an opinion on, you know, market trends I would look at it and say, we're probably gonna see some evidence flow. We're probably gonna see more layoffs happening as the market goes down, we'll, you know, assuredly see more people lose their jobs unfortunately. And then as we get bigger there's a lot more growth to come with it. Once legalization happens, if it happens, we'll definitely see a rush there. As more states legalize, there's a good chance that we'll see a lot more opportunities develop there. But at the same time, the ebb and flow in the market is going to be there and cannabis is going to be affected just like any other time. So I would factor in for, you know, good times and bad times in terms of job growth as well as the growth of the industry in general.
Kannaboomers (15:24): Right. Well, and there may be some froth. As you know, expectations get risen and then reality doesn't match them. And then maybe there are some job cuts, but you come back around, I mean, there's going to be consolidation. There's going to be a lot happening as this industry matures.
Andrew Ward (15:38): Absolutely. Yeah. You know mergers and acquisitions are such a huge thing that's happening in cannabis already and it's definitely gonna happen more. Like you said, those brands will eventually shrink into just a few brands. And what is that going to leave the industry looking like? Then that's the thing that I think about cannabis that's really important to remember though, is maybe if you see that trend sort of happening, where else could you go? What other opportunities could you look at that might give you a little bit more freedom or a little bit of protection from being laid off? One of the reasons why I've always stuck with being a freelancer is because I can control my own job, market it, things going in a direction that I'm really happy with, I can kind of pivot and make that decision for myself. Whereas if the market's going down and you're working for a large company, there's a chance to, yours is going to have to ride it out and see what happens. So there's a risk that everything in the cannabis space, but as much as we're entering a downtime right now, I do expect to see a lot more benefit in the long run.
Kannaboomers (16:35): How about we drill down to like the individual who's looking for a job in this market. You know, I'm curious, what are steps to take? You gotta have a resume? Is LinkedIn a good place to go and look for connections and what are some of the day to day things to do if you're seeking a job in this area?
Andrew Ward (16:51): So yeah, LinkedIn would definitely be beneficial in the sense. I would recommend putting cannabis in your title, in your job search title. I think there's a lot of recruiters that are out there looking for people at the moment. So putting cannabis in there will help your name rise to the top of the searches on LinkedIn. But the biggest advice I got nearly three years ago, and it's still the same is show up. You have to show up. If you don't show up, your name is not going to carry that far. You have to go to networking events, you have to go to other events. Especially if you're in a community activism or protesting or in a state that is trying to advance legislation, get involved as much as you can with your support as much as you can. Volunteering when you can. I know some people don't have the time or ability to do that, but if you can make those sorts of strides as well. On the traditional side sure, having a resume is going to be great. Having the right placement, you know, getting on LinkedIn is going to be great. I would say you might want to even work on Twitter if you've got a good social PR, good personality, work on Twitter or Instagram, work on getting your name out there and that way elevating your brand is definitely going to be huge. Whether you're in marketing or some other aspect of the industry. I just saw it very early on by a great branding expert in the cannabis space. Her name is Dasheeda Dawson. She said, you know, get your social media handles in line. Everything lined up like every little detail that you need, bring them all together because those ways, people know my social media and it kind of leads them to want to work with me. So it was really, I would say work on the traditional means, but also just get involved in the industry and get your name out there and then maybe just try and chime in some conversations online and work on building up your skills in the meantime, just like as you say, any other market, you need to have a personal brand and bring something to it.
Kannaboomers (18:43): And I guess showing up of course, but there are still the old stereotypes that people who are interested in cannabis are lacking ambition and, and that kind of thing. That is maybe something that needs to be overcome as well.
Andrew Ward (18:55): Yeah. You know, I think that goes back to the detractors point. The notion that cannabis consumers are lazy or not inspired is definitely true. And I mean, there is a small segment of the cannabis community that we will represent that. But by and large, there's just so many hungry, passionate people that want to do this, you know, whether it be for all the right reasons, wanting to see, you know, access for patients as well as, you know, correcting all the wrongs of the drug war to even some people that you know might be a little bit, you know, less than the actress that you'd want to be on the front aligns, you know, maybe just trying to get in there because there's money. People want to see this industry get big, they want to see it do well and they want to be involved in it themselves. So yeah, there's probably some people that don't want to get involved, but the people that don't want to get involved, I would say, you know, they're probably just not going to be a part of the cannabis community in the long haul. And as we've seen over time, even back when it was a completely undergrounded, illicit, there were hungry people and getting at it and they were smoking all the time and they weren't the laziest people. So I think only over time we're going to see further and further how untrue that misnomer is.
Kannaboomers (19:58): You did touch on something there that the old school thinking of, of cannabis a lot of the new stuff that's coming out, we know that it's a legitimate medicine for many, many conditions, but there are some people who are more interested in the money aspect and in the way it can help improve people's lives. Do you see that?
Andrew Ward (20:14): Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Especially in New York. Yeah. The more, the larger the market is, the more likely you're going to see people going in that sort of direction. I know for a fact there's certain organizations that don't pay their staff, they will pay them very little and claim that they're not making money even though there is a clear track record that they have money. And they're just collecting it for themselves and trying to build up their brand. And you know, on one side it pretty much flies in the face of what the cannabis community ethics I've always been and what hopefully they will be. But also at the same time that is unfortunately the nature of a lot of business in America, outside of cannabis or within it. I've worked, one of the reasons why I got into freelance is because I worked for a startup that guaranteed me a couple of different parameters of what the job was going to be. And within two weeks everything had changed and I lost my job within seven months because I didn't just go along with it. And the angle of my career people a lot of times will want to just use people on their way to the top. And I think the cannabis industry right now is being very hypervigilant about that and trying to do their best to stop those actors from coming in. But unfortunately, whether it be through mergers and acquisitions, people just having money and coming into the space or just a few rising their way through the top. There are some that are doing that. The big thing though that I think people should recognize and we should, you know, get 'em a little bit more credit towards is working with the cannabis people. So the people who worked in the cannabis market and the ones who build up their companies I know are, you know, now seeing them come to fruition.
Andrew Ward (21:46): I think a good example would be Steve de Angelo at Harborside is a good example of that is you're seeing companies where these people might not have had the CEO training that they owe that they needed to run a business, but they certainly know how to run a cannabis business. But now that they're in the legal market, they have a sort of information and experience gap. Meanwhile, on the other side, they're CEOs and C suite executives that are looking to get into the cannabis space, but they don't understand the past ethics of the industry or you know, the ideals that we're hoping to bring into it. Or maybe they just have some basic understanding of it. And a lot of companies that are doing it right are bringing those two together. They're bringing the old cannabis in with the C suite executives, they're starting to understand how the company can grow as a viable business. While also, while maintaining the cannabis community ethics. So while I don't know where we're going to end up as an industry all together, I hope that that will be the direction in which we go for the time being.
Kannaboomers (22:41): Well, and I think some of what you said earlier is relevant here too. Develop your network, talk to people, find who you trust. And you know, if it seems to be too good to be true, a lot of times it is, there are going to be a lot of players rushing into this market as it matures. So I think again, it makes a lot of sense to just develop a network and, and listen to it.
Andrew Ward (23:01): Yeah. You know, I think that's a really good point. A lot, especially people that are hungry to get into this space, you might want to just take the first opportunity that comes along or look at her, the first partnership comes along and trust me, the lure is real and it's strong. But don't do it. You know, if you have a good gut intuition, rely on that gut intuition. Don't just take the first opportunity that comes along. If you're someone who hasn't always had the best opportunities with them, choosing your partnerships, really vet the hell out of these people. Make sure you know everything about them. You know, look in the latest news, look into what they were doing previous to getting in cannabis. See if they have opinions on social media, read their articles. Ideally, another great reason why you get involved in the cannabis community is that you can then turn around and ask others in the space what you know about this person. If there is no track record or if there's nothing positive being said, there's a good indication about who you might want to, you know, steer clear. So yeah, there's a lot of opportunity to get in there and just choose your partners wisely and, you know, hopefully rely on the community to help you along the way.
Kannaboomers (24:03): It sounds like you've found a good niche as a freelance writer. Is that where you see yourself being in five years? Is that, are you happy in that place?
Andrew Ward (24:13): You know, I'm kind of always looking for the opportunity to where am I going to go next? Writing yet I've always wanted to be a writer. I went to college for a degree in creative writing. I've, my whole life I've wanted to write, but it would be untrue to say cannabis writing was where I always wanted to be. And now that I've been a writer professionally for nearly 10 years, does a writer fit the role where I want to be in the next five, 10 years? I'm not really sure. To be completely transparent. If you want to be a freelance writer in this industry or many others, there's a good chance you're not going to be making a lot of money or you're going to be working a ton of hours and a ton of articles today there. And there have been times where I've found my work diluting our, had been diluted because I worked so much that I just wasn't able to give the same level of concern that I had to articles, you know, just a couple months prior. And that's not something I ever want to do. So I'm always looking to find the next opportunity I want to be writing. I'm happy to be writing, I love writing in the cannabis space, but you know, you're, it's just like any other thing. Look for the trends. What is out there, you know, we've seen layoffs happening with mergers, acquisitions happening. Are all these publications going to be available in the next few years? Don't know. There are other opportunities out there and I don't want to say anything or tip my hat just yet to where I'm looking to go, but I would say I've always had a wide net. So writing is probably going to stay within my neck for a very long time, hopefully forever. But to say I'm just going to be the cannabis writer or just strictly writing it in cannabis. I would say that probably isn't going to be accurate in the next five years, but we'll say.
Kannaboomers (25:49): Well, you've proven that you can turn a book around in six weeks. So here's what I can do with a few new movie scripts. Next. There you go. So let me ask you, having spent some time considering this and, and talking with a lot of people, what is the big thing that many people get wrong about cannabis?
Andrew Ward (26:07): I think it's really what sector are we in that well, are we going to get wrong about it? You know we've still looked on the legislative side. I mean, for a year, especially where I'm at, everyone's like, New York, New Jersey is gonna be the next two states to legalize 10, 11. Who's going to be the 10th? Who's going to be the 11th was the only question. Now flash forward, we've seen Illinois, Michigan doing it looks like New Mexico is going to do it potentially. You know, that's a big one. I think trends in the market are ones that we can never really be accurate on either. But you know inaccuracies are really kind of out there. It just depends on which market you're in or which sector we're talking about. There always seems to be something that, whether it be the cannabis industry a certain on or outsiders believe is going to happen. It seems to be willing in six months, they kind of tend to go about and about face on you. I mean I would love to give specific examples and like I think legislative is probably one of the better ones. But you know, like also look at what some of the people were saying in the market reports. Like, Oh cannabis is going to boom forever. We're looking great or we're even to those that thought the bubble was coming, you know, the bubble wasn't going to happen for a little bit longer and say what's happening right now is the bubble, but Oh, I don't think people always forecasted that we are going to see this decline. So really kind of depends on where you're at and what kind of circle we're in. You know, what's, what's the tech community? You talked about, what's the lab testing community talking about? There's always something going on and there's always something being talked about. And then you find out a couple months later that at least one or two of the things being brought up to me wrong
Kannaboomers (27:35): As we record this, just this past week, you know, the MORE Act passed the House Judiciary and it's gonna move to the full House, but then there's the Senate. And so there's still a lot of built in uncertainty as to legalization. But you know, once that happens, I think we could probably expect a tsunami of that.
Andrew Ward (27:53): Yeah, exactly. You know, I think that'll be the next big boom that we're talking about in the job market and the industry. The real question is, when is that legalization gonna happen? My gut would say probably not soon. Just judging on the history of making moves during the legislative window as well as what's going on between the bipartisan across the aisle fighting that's going on with everything. I don't see cannabis legalization getting through at the moment, but I hope that I'm wrong.
Kannaboomers (28:19): It could happen quickly. But I think for a lot of people in the industry, they hope it takes a little longer so they can square things.
Andrew Ward (28:26): Yeah, that's a, that's always a question too. Cause you know, one of the things that we're like is why hasn't this been legalized when for decades people within the know have known that it's not harmful and there's a lot of potential to it and it can benefit a lot of people. You know, a lot of this theory has been that we're not going to see legalization until all the rich white folks can know how to shift their money and make money off of cannabis and kind of freeze out everyone else. I can't say that with a fact, but I would be willing to believe that that's probably one of the reasons why. And as you've seen from some of the big names, not naming anybody you've seen more and more coming into the space, I would say of you see even more of an uptake of that coming down might be a good forecast of saying when a legalization might come,
Kannaboomers (29:07): There's definitely more celebrity pitch people coming in. When you have a guy like John Boehner doing work in this space, more and more establishment figures are coming in yet we could still be a long ways away.
Andrew Ward (29:20): Yeah. And you know, I mean I have no guarantee that he would pull it, but I wouldn't be surprised after all this fighting to see if Mitch McConnell where it ended, ended up out of an office anytime soon. A McConnell brand hemp, or sitting on the board of something. You know, you don't really need even to be a spokesman or spokeswoman at this point. You know, we have people like Judge Jeanine Pirro working for Heavenly RX, which is a CBD company. There are names across the industry that you might not have thought were going to be in there that are starting to get in there. And you know, I think that is the sign that yeah, we're starting to see a bubble up that legalization is going to happen. And when more and more of those names that you know, given the, either not so cannabis associated people or the people that oppose cannabis like Boehner, we'll see more of those come in. I think that'll be the real indication of when we're going to see legalization come about.
Kannaboomers (30:03): Well, and meanwhile, Mexico is making moves in that direction. Canada's there already, you know, Israel is doing a lot of great research, so we're falling behind in terms of economic opportunity. This could be a huge job builder when our government is ready.
Andrew Ward (30:20): Yeah, it absolutely can. And I think, you know, as cocky as this might sound from a lot of the people in the industry I've talked to is they're not too concerned about the U.S. Not legalizing before some of these other countries. Because the demand and the epicenter of business in the U.S. Is, is that the U.S. Will come around and end up taking a large share of the market, whether it be the number one spot or near the number one spot. But that said, it is disheartening. Do not see us legalizing this for the right reasons. You know, this, this is great and true. It's great to see the numbers and even see the jobs. But yeah, remember that this is about criminal justice reform more than anything. We need to see the right people coming into these entrepreneurship roles. It's more than just establishing the industry and establishing a job market for people. It's about doing it right. There's a lot of people of color that are in jail for this. There's a lot of families that have been broken up for this. One, we might be able to get some restoration and reformation to the things for them, but there's a lot that we'll never be able to get done. Right. So, you know, if the U.S. Doesn't legalize right now or tomorrow and we're behind Israel and some countries in South America, Europe, what have you, no, it stinks, but at the same time, as long as we do it right. That's really my main concern, I think for the people, at least within the cannabis community. And maybe not just the kind of industry, that's the most pressing concern for us.
Kannaboomers (31:38): Well, I think you made a great point there. The whole social justice aspect does matter. And do you see that as a big piece of this and how can we help that come about?
Andrew Ward (31:49): Well, yeah, I think it's starting to become more prevalent. Not a guarantee that it's going to be in the States, but I think it was what maybe 13 or 14 in the last states, put through a medical legislation, six of them put some form of social justice and equitable reform measures in there regulations. We are starting to see some of it, but it's not an every common piece in everyday legislation at this point. So if it matters to you, you need to speak up about it. You need to, whether it be signing protests, showing up to events you know, go into protests. I know in New York and the cannabis community, a lot of times we were just sending up free buses up to Albany with anyone who wanted to protest alongside the cannabis supporters. That's pretty common. And that was one of the reasons why New York didn't pass legislation is because they failed to include adequate social parameters. So it is a major component to a lot of people and you are seeing people speak up on it and if it matters to you, right, your legislators get involved, voice on social media, do whatever you can to amplify those concerns because, you know, for all the years that people were just saying, legalize it, legalize it, legalize it, it actually turned out that that helped to get it further along. So why not say, make sure that there's equal measures for people of color. Make sure women are included here. Make sure there are fair entrepreneurial rights and bridging the gap for people coming out of the prison system. Bang the drum on everything about that. It's a lot to do and it can get tiring at times, but the more you do it, the more likely we are to see positive change and the legislation that we want to see be put in place.
Kannaboomers (33:25): You mentioned Steve de Angelo earlier and I know he's involved in the Last Prisoner Project. Whatever organization you want to join, this is still a movement. There is still stigma involved and there is a hundred years of propaganda to be overcome.
Andrew Ward (33:39): Yeah, there absolutely is. There's a lot of great organizations helping fight that. You know, Steve is Steve de Angelo and the Last Prisoner Project is definitely one of them. The Marijuana Policy Project, NORML is great. There's a lot of local organizations too. In New York we have tons of groups from networking like Rebel and the CannaGather and Women Grow. We also have the Cannabis Cultural Association, New York city normal. There's a lot of groups and some of them are, you know, maybe four or five people strong. Some of them are hundreds of people strong and in some States you might have to be one of the first people to get the ball rolling on them. I think that is, you know, there is opportunity to be there and a lot of times it's already set up and you can jump in and you know, share your voice and be part of the community and actually help yourself grow along the way and you know, do the right thing. And there's a good chance that just by doing that you could end up finding a career in the cannabis industry as well. I know a lot of people who started on the activism side working for groups like students for sensible drug policy who never expected to be an entrepreneur who are now heading up companies who are, you know, working as notable brand leaders and consultants and things like that. And it's all because they wanted to do the right thing or the industry and now they're starting to almost see the benefits on both sides.
Kannaboomers (34:54): Well that kind of brings us full circle. I mean, we started out talking about the best way to find a job in this industry is to network, to get out there and talk to people, be a joiner and show up. I think whether you're looking for a job or, or you're concerned with social justice or you just want to protect your cannabis rights, showing up is a great idea online and in person.
Andrew Ward (35:15): Yeah, it absolutely is. And you know, just, you know, remember too that you're not only showing up for yourself, but you're also showing up for other people that might not be able to speak right now or are never going to be able to speak because they may have lost their lives already to this. So, you know, there's a lot of benefits to showing up and don't always think showing up is just, you know, doing the grunt work of things too. Like, it sure is. But there's also a lot of really fun events that people just will take time to talk about these sorts of things. So we highlight the benefits of what cannabis can do while also not forgetting about the people that aren't able to enjoy it or be part of it right now.
Kannaboomers (35:47): Andrew, it's been a great interview. Is there anything else we should add or can you tell us where to find you online?
Andrew Ward (35:53): Yeah, so I think before the first thing I want to say is, you know, don't forget about your past skills. The cannabis industry, while it may seem big and daunting, it's, it's not, it's actually a really ripe opportunity for people to get involved. If you have skills, you can make them happen, whether you are just, whether you're skilled at working behind a sales desk and you know, a little bit about pot, you could work in a dispensary. You can, where if, you know, cultivation, you know, legal tech, social media, marketing, there's so many different things out there that you can get involved in right now. And if you're in a market that maybe isn't burgeoning just yet, or you're in a state that isn't so excited about it just yet, maybe you might be a groundbreaker and maybe you'll be a trailblazer. You know, you might need to wait it out a bit. Also don't be completely against moving if you have the ability to do that. There's a lot of opportunity in this industry. There's a lot of opportunity. Leave your market, there's a lot of opportunity to help develop a market. There is essentially just a lot of opportunity and if you get involved and put your name out there and show the skills that you have and you're willing to, you know, maybe do a little bit more legwork than you might have to do to get into another industry, you have a good chance of becoming a groundbreaking person in this space. And then when it comes to finding me online, my social media on Twitter and Instagram is the Cannawriter, follow me there. I'm pretty active on Twitter, sharing some news throughout the day. Instagram a little less. And yeah, follow me on some of the sites I write for. I write for Benzinga.com HighTimes.com, the Marijuana Times, Pot Guide and a few other sites out there. So yeah, keep an eye out for me and feel free to shoot me a line and say hi sometime.
Kannaboomers (37:30): For sure. And thank you for sharing your expertise and some really good advice for anybody who's interested in finding a job in this huge new industry as it develops and grows. Thanks again Andrew, and we will see you online.
Andrew Ward (37:42): Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. And I hope Cannabis Jobs helps out a lot of people. Be sure to pick up a copy on Amazon if you can.
Kannaboomers: We'll do. Thanks so much. Have a great one.