East Coast Cannabis Jobs Pay More

Cannabis is rapidly becoming a big business, raising hundreds of millions in tax revenue on combined cannabis sales from various states in the billions of dollars. That’s a lot of green. (Get it? Because money and weed are both… never mind.)

A new survey by Marijuana Business Magazine pulls back the curtain on how that translates to paychecks for everyone involved, from trimmers to CEOs. And Oregon is lagging behind in pay on most fronts.

Overall, the East Coast is paying the most, with many employers there hiring away West Coast cannabis employees who simply have more experience, as the longest-established medical and recreational programs are based on the West Coast. There simply aren’t as many people on the East Coast who have extensive experience managing a commercial-sized grow or extraction operation.

The differences across the country can be slight to eye-popping, and makes relocating for work an attractive option.

Here are some quotes culled from Marijuana Business Magazine and from Fortune‘s summary of the survey:

CEOs —The average salary of a cannabis company CEO at one of the industry’s five major companies is $528,090. Compare that to the national estimate for CEOs of $196,050.

Dispensary managers in Maryland and Massachusetts make more than dispensary managers in California, Colorado, Illinois, and Oregon. A dispensary manager in Maryland earns an average of $75,500—twice as much as the average $37,500 earned by dispensary managers in Oregon. As of early 2019, Maryland had 71 active medical dispensaries, while Oregon had four medical dispensaries and 605 recreational dispensaries.

Master extractors in California and North Carolina are paid more than those in Colorado and Pennsylvania, with those specializing in hemp earning up to $120,000 per year in North Carolina, while the salary in Colorado may top out at $70,000.

Master cultivators in Massachusetts earn $120,000-150,000 per year—up to twice as much as the $70,000-80,000 earned in Alaska.

Edibles Producer—The chefs of the weed world bring in an average salary of $46,640, which is about $3,000 less than chefs and head cooks in the food service industry.

Budtenders—On average, they earn $32,240. That’s $5,980 more than the average bartender and $4,780 more than a retail salesperson. California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland and Massachusetts pay the most, out earning there counterparts in Arizona, Michigan and Oregon. A budtender in Massachusetts can earn $12-14 per hour, while a budtender in Arizona may earn $10-12 per hour.

Trimmers—The position pays an average of $29,667, with the best paying jobs in Colorado, rather than California or Washington. In California, trimmers earn $10-12.50 per hour and in Washington State it’s $12, while trimming in Colorado can command $12-16 per hour. An experienced trimmer in Colorado can earn about $2,000 more than a trimmer in Washington state over the course of three months.

Security workers –-People who work security in the cannabis industry average $34,320.

The study takes into account that compensation can vary within a single state, based on the cost of living—Seattle would pay more than Spokane for example.

Of course, a extra few thousand a year in pay may not be worth dealing with an East Coast winter, making quality of life an important factor when deciding where to work.

Josh Taylor is a well-known and successful entrepreneur in the legal cannabis space, producing B2B and B2C cannabis events, "Backstage Budtending" and upscale concierge services through his companies OregonCannabisConcierge.com and CaliforniaCannabisConcierge.com. His weekly syndicated newspaper column and features about cannabis ran for five years until March 2020.

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