My Struggle To Find Employment In The Cannabis Industry
In 2012, my wife and I made this sign (and many more) and marched in Washington D.C. for legalization of cannabis! Where Were You?
I recently went on a job interview for a ‘bud-tender’ position at one of my favorite dispensaries. I was honest and up front with the general manager that interviewed me and I told him about a misdemeanor theft on my record from almost 5 years ago. I explained the whole situation to him -In 2016 I was bad off on alcohol and opiates and while under the influence, I made a terrible decision and broke into a convenience store (after hours; with no one there) and stole some food and money.
Of course this is a shocking thing to hear from anyone; but the manager commended my honesty and truthfulness and said he understood that things happen in life and that people can change. The rest of the hour long interview went great! I was able to show him a knowledge and passion for cannabis that he said was “un-matched”. I told him all about my extensive sales and customer service roles that I’ve held and succeeded in; and showed him my graphic arts and photography portfolio that he was blown away by.
The interview ended with the manager saying: “You would be a tremendous asset to not only our dispensary, but to the cannabis industry as a whole”. He said he would hire me right then and there, but he had to run it passed the owners who are from a different state.
After a few days, I got an e-mail from the dispensary manager that said:
“Hi Adam, Thank you for coming in last week for an interview. Unfortunately, we cannot move forward with your application due to the complications of a background check. If there is a silver lining here, this decision was made by the owners based on prior experiences they’ve had. I did some digging in the MMCC regulations and you should be able to clear the background check for their purposes. They will definitely see any history so it’s always best to be honest with any potential employer, just as you were with us. Best of Luck.”
As you could imagine; I was pretty disappointed. Anyone that knows me, will tell you that I am absolutely a changed person because of cannabis; I AM NOT the person I once was. I wish I had the means to expunge my record but I can’t for 15 years under Maryland law. I made a mistake; just like A LOT of people that work in the cannabis industry. In fact, everyone in the Maryland cannabis industry today, would have been criminals if they were selling cannabis here 5 years ago.
My point is -There needs to be less judgment and bias in the cannabis industry. There are so many people like myself who would innovate and revolutionize this industry -IF and ONLY IF- we were not judged by our pasts and the people we may have once been. This is part of ending the stigmas that exist in the industry and culture. Just because I was in a bad place in my life and made mistakes, does not mean that I’m not now an upstanding, trustworthy and very employable person.
This was by no means my 1st interview that went amazing but I didn’t get the job because of my past. This article would be WAY to long if I were to list all of them. Once I fully recovered from the horrors of opiates and alcohol (read how here) I knew that I not only wanted, but NEEDED to work in this amazing industry. Not only because it helped me clean my life up, but also because I had always been very vocal and active in the efforts to legalize cannabis. With the knowledge and skills that I have attained over the years; I KNOW I’ll be a huge asset to the industry.
Unfortunately, I have yet to find a job in the industry. Every avenue I venture down is shut down because of judgments about my past. I thought that I would have no problem getting a job working for a dispensary or a cannabis company in general. I haven’t had any legal troubles in over 5 years and I’ve never once had a single drug charge.
I’m great with people; I’m well spoken; I have a good portfolio; I have great sales skills; I have an unmatched work ethic; I have an incredible passion for cannabis -But my past keeps haunting me; and the industry that I thought would be the most understanding and accepting is turning out to be the absolute opposite.
I KNOW that I will work in the cannabis industry one day; hopefully sooner rather than later (I have a wife that has health problems and a 6 year old daughter to support). I just need ONE person or ONE company to take ONE chance on me and I will show them and everyone else in this industry just how much creativity, passion and knowledge I have to contribute and share about the plant that saved my life.