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Why Aren’t People Working in Cannabis Retail?

In a new report released by Indeed, Canada’s leading job search site, the novelty of working in the cannabis industry is wearing off.

In anticipation of legalization in 2018, jobs in the cannabis sector peaked, representing 0.54% of all job postings in Canada, holding steady until July of 2019. After that, the number of postings declined as much as 40%, only making up 0.32% of job listings by March 2020. That number dropped even more after WHO declared a global pandemic, decreasing by 29%, however, it has since rebounded back to 0.38%. At the moment, cannabis jobs have a share similar to hospitality and tourism jobs.

The most common jobs in the cannabis sector are retail-related jobs like sales associate, store manager, and budtender, as well as non-retail roles such as technicians, harvesters, and consultants. The majority fall in the latter category, although retail positions make up 18% of cannabis job postings, nearly doubled from last year.

The prevalence of these jobs depends largely on the province. For instance, Ontario’s slow roll-out of retail stores has resulted in retail jobs representing only 0.05% of all job postings in the province, whereas Alberta, which has the highest number of cannabis stores, reports 0.28%. This does bode well for Ontario though, as Indeed’s economist Brendon Bernard reports that once Ontario’s number of stores catches up with the rest of the country, so too could its cannabis jobs.

None of that matters if jobseekers aren’t interested though. According to the report, Canadians were very curious about working in the cannabis sector leading up to legalization, however, in the following weeks, interest waned significantly. Since then, only 0.22% of all Canadian job searches included cannabis-related jobs.

Why is that? Without specific data, we can only speculate, but if you have a look at the job listings yourself, it may give you a clue.

Searching ‘cannabis retail jobs‘ on the web pulls up several opportunities, however, they are all the same: poorly formatted and difficult to read, with no mention of hours, wage, or benefits. Some job postings don’t even include a street address. Additionally, many ‘entry-level’ positions require at least 3 to 5 years of experience in customer service, and the applicant must submit their resume online, where a hiring algorithm throws out their application because it didn’t include the proper keywords.

On top of that, depending on the province, these jobs pay approximately $12 – $18 per hour, with the national average being $16.63. This is much higher than in other retail sectors, but since cannabis retail employees are required to be over the age of 19, that means they are adults with rent and bills, and perhaps approximately $1,800 per month is not enough for them to live on. That is, if the listing even mentions wages, or whether they will be working part-time or full-time hours.

Being a part of the industry myself, I can say that the cannabis sector is a fun and fascinating industry to work in, and obviously, other Canadians feel the same. As the industry continues to grow and evolve, jobseekers will be interested in participating—employers just have to meet them half-way.