Employees move from the server to the cannabis industry. Photo credit: Shutterstock.
In mid-March of 2020, COVID-19 turned the U.S. towards one of the worst economic recessions seen since 2008, reports the World Bank. However, the cannabis industry boomed when a majority of others struggled throughout the economic downfall during 2020.
According to Leafly, cannabis entered 2021 as the fastest-growing industry in America with a 32% increase in full-time cannabis jobs.
To compare, around 100,000 restaurants closed their doors permanently during the crisis of 2020, according to Forbes.
The restaurant business is reliably a steady employer of college students and part-time workers. But according to Restaurant Business, the unemployment rate of the leisure and server industries was up to an overall 11.1%.
As the server industry became less of a go-to job market during the pandemic, employees went to the ever-growing cannabis job industry.
In fact, according to a recent CannaBiz Team study, the cannabis industry has seen “a remarkable inflow of talent from other industries,” mainly the food and beverage area.
In fact, Logan Taylor, manager at Mango Cannabis — a medical dispensary in Norman, Oklahoma — said that “most if not all of our new employees have experience in the server industry.”
“I Have Always Wanted to Work in the Weed Industry.”
Oklahoma’s cannabis industry is growing within the constraints of being a state that solely provides medical cannabis products. Just in 2020, Oklahoma added nearly 6,000 jobs to the cannabis industry, close to a third of the existing cannabis jobs in Oklahoma, reports KGOU.
Overall, the Sooner State’s cannabis industry employs more than 17,000 people. Leafly ranked Oklahoma as ninth in the U.S. for total cannabis job growth in 2020. There are now more cannabis employees in the state of Oklahoma than there are construction workers, the publication adds. Additionally, Oklahoma also more than doubled its cannabis sales reports in 2020, compared to 2019.
Taylor Kilander has worked in the service industry for the majority of her adult life. But she decided to move into the cannabis industry in late 2020.
She currently works at Noble Nectar of Noble, Oklahoma, as an education and development specialist.
“I’ve worked in the server industry for a really long time but I have always wanted to work in the weed industry,” Kilander said. “I was honestly just a little bit afraid of the stigma that goes along with the weed industry in Oklahoma.”
But, she explains, she took the leap into the industry last year.
“After COVID, I was like I’m going to do this, quit the server industry, jump into the weed industry and within one week, I got an interview and was hired,” Kilander said.
“It’s so new in Oklahoma. [It’s] such a booming industry; there’s so much knowledge about cannabis to be had,” Kilander said. “Getting into the weed industry now, especially for Oklahoma, is so good because there are always places to go.”
“It’s Easy to be in an Industry That you Enjoy”
Both Tiana Deminter and Katie Taylor have experience in the service industry. In 2020, they began working in the cannabis industry.
Deminter now works as a production specialist at Noble Nectar, soon to be head of packaging. Taylor is currently the head rosin extractor at Noble Nectar.
Deminter explained that she enjoys the cannabis industry and the work environment. “Everyone [in the cannabis industry] that I have encountered has been nice and easy to talk to,” she said. “It’s easy to be in an industry that you enjoy.”
Taylor, on the other hand, said the state’s medical market is what drove her. “I am all about getting it (cannabis) de-stigmatized and it being a medical industry right now. I wanted to get involved while it was still medical,” Taylor said.
According to a Cannabiz Teams report, the desirable jobs in the cannabis business right now include large-scale cultivation, retail, finance and accounting, and supply chain management. On average, cannabis retail workers earn between $37,000-$40,000 per year, according to the CannaBiz Team study.
To compare, the average server earned approximately $18,000-$29,000 annually, according to U.S. News.
The standard for food service jobs is changing. Many know food service jobs for the high influx of young adults and part-time workers looking for flexible hours and quick pay. The average turn-over rate for food service employees was 74.9% in 2018. It has been rising since, according to the National Restaurant Association.
But, with factors such as legalization and the pandemic, the principle for this type of job availability — as recent trends show — may be moving towards the cannabis job industry.