Alison McMahon started Cannabis at Work in 2015, and at the time, the company was an advisor to corporations on issues linked to the use of marijuana as medicine in the workplace.
Most recently, Cannabis at Work has expanded to help businesses in the marijuana industry find employees ahead of the adult use legalization boom. “We really saw an opportunity. The cannabis industry is quite literally growing in front of our eyes,” McMahon said.
According to McMahon, the cannabis industry could create 50,000 jobs in Canada after legalization has been implemented for two years, basing the prediction on California’s experience.
McMahon pointed out that most of the jobs are currently in Ontario where the majority of the licensed producers are located.
(Number of licenses issued by province or territory)
Edmonton is another hotbed because of heavy hitter Aurora Cannabis. Aurora’s massive grow facility located at the Edmonton airport will be employing 200 full-time jobs after it opens this fall.
Cannabis at Work is launched a Toronto location last week at the Lift Cannabis Expo, alongside other exhibitors that included Weedmaps.
Marijuana.com caught up with McMahon to get a sense of where the industry is going and her techniques at pairing the right employees with the right company.
Are your client’s companies looking for employees, the individuals looking for work, or both?
They are both. We’re a staffing agency specializing in the cannabis sector meaning that we only recruit for companies in that sector, and we have services for our candidates as well.
Where have you seen the industry grow the fastest?
In Canada, we’re seeing a lot of growth within licensed producer models. There are a variety of jobs within those organizations like production of the actual bud. But they also have to build up their corporate services teams, HR, marketing, accounting, and IT.
Due to the nature of how the industry is evolving in Canada, licensed producers are really ramping up and they will be the recreational producers as well.
Do you staff for the unlicensed community as well? Such as the dispensaries?
We focus mostly on the legal market. We definitely will focus on the retail market that emerges over the next years as well.
But if a dispensary came to you, would you turn them away?
No, but we would need to have a conversation with them to make sure that we’re comfortable with the market that they are in. That’s the challenge in the Canadian market right now. Being respectful of the past while looking ahead to the future.
For people who want to get into the industry, is there training that they can take which would make them valuable to employers?
We have a few courses right now and we’re developing additional courses for that exact reason.
Any training that someone can take to build their resume is valuable or any volunteer opportunity. Anything that someone can put on their resume to show that they have taken steps to gain some expertise in the industry, will be helpful.
There are a lot of jobs as well, that have transferable skill sets especially when you look at things like corporate services. Someone who was an accountant before, they can come in and be an accountant at a licensed producer.
Canada is buzzing with conversation on the approaching legal market. Discussions regarding how adult-use pot will change the face and identity of this country have been taking place at government offices and dinner tables across the nation.
Whatever side-effects that occur as a result of this incredible transformation, one positive effect is job creation.
After decades of prohibition and forcing cannabis lovers to smoke weed in the shadows, we are now openly putting our citizens to work producing and selling marijuana. This is what legitimacy looks like.
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