Phoenix's Pot Industry Is Hiring, From Budtenders to Cultivators and Food Service Veterans

Arizona’s booming cannabis industry is hiring.

That was the message from Mint Cannabis as it hosted a job fair last month, ahead of opening its fifth dispensary in the Valley. With the pot business already reaching a billion dollar market here — rivaling only California’s cannabis market — open jobs exist all along the cannabis workflow.

For folks considering joining the local cannabis industry, job sites such as ZipRecruiter and InDeed list entry-level positions. For example, search for cannabis-industry jobs, and you’ll find listings for delivery drivers, who make $18 to $21 an hour, or cannabis brand ambassadors, which start at $15 an hour. Job-seekers also can check listings for individual dispensaries. A quick check for Mint showed nearly 20 open positions.

The cannabis industry offers a wide range of job possibilities, including budtender, marketing, cultivation, and human resources. There are public-facing options and back office spots, too.

Cultivators — the folks who plant, nourish, and trim marijuana plants — can bring in more than $50,000 a year, according to Salary ranges vary depending on several factors, including location, certifications, education, additional skills, and years in the cannabis industry.

Cannabis packagers put together and package flowers, edibles, and concentrate products. The packager weighs, measures, and packages the cannabis products. Flower is placed in display jars and hangers, pre-rolls are stuffed in joint tubes and boxes, and edibles are placed in resealable pouches.

In the warehouse, the canna packager ensures products are packed and accounted for, conforming with the company’s policies and Arizona state regulations.

Once the products are boxed and shipped to dispensaries across the Valley, employees display the packages in showrooms for customers to see.

As customers and patients walk toward a dispensary, they’ll likely pass security guards. Then, they check in with the dispensary’s hosts, who usually work in foyer separate from the showroom. The hosts ensure that customers have valid identification cards and cannabis patient cards.

Once inside the showroom, budtenders or cannabis advisors — referred to as patient service representatives on job boards — will greet and assist the patrons. 

Ariyan Gutierrez has been a budtender at Mint since 2020. “Budtending involves the sales aspect of the job,” she said in a recent New Times interview. “We help the patients figure out what they need.”

Recreational weed has been legal in Arizona since 2021. With stigma lessening, people are organically switching to the plant and its derivatives to help with their ailments, for relaxation, and for other beneficial purposes. As a result, many customers are walking into a dispensary for the first time.

“As a first-time patient, sometimes they don’t understand what’s going on; it can be overwhelming coming in for the first time,” Gutierrez said. “It is our job to make them comfortable — and help them figure out what they need.”

Mint budtenders are allowed to receive tips on top of their hourly wages; the tip totals often range from $50 to $120 a day.

During a job fair hosted by Mint on January 7, more than 50 applicants dropped off their resumes and met with staff members.

“Today, we are looking for more of those leadership roles, the [advanced shipping notice], our leads, and things like that,” said Marissa Gonzales, human resources director for Mint Cannabis. “So they’ll have a second interview to come out to the stores, and they’ll take a look at what their environment will look like.”

Mint also produces its own line of cannabis products, including WTF Extracts, Sofa King Edibles, and Angry Errl. Thousands of packages arrive at Mint’s flagship store in Guadalupe each week and need to be distributed to the company’s other dispensaries. So people with experience in shipping and receiving also are in demand in the cannabis industry.

Leads assist the sales team by recruiting and training new team members, helping with sales, and providing sales reports. They also resolve customer complaints. “You may think you may get along with customers until they are yelling at you,” said Heather Walker, regional retail manager at Mint. “So, I usually look at their work history where they’ve worked before [to see]if they have that customer service experience.”

‘Keep the Vibes Up’

When it comes to choosing new hires, Walker looks for people who have worked in places for long periods of time. “We pay for [facility agent] cards here — that’s $300. So we’d like to see people last at the job,” she explained.

The cards, which include a background check, are required for any person who wants to work in the cannabis industry in the state.

Since Mint’s flagship dispensary first opened in Guadalupe in 2017, it has grown to 12,000 square feet and now includes Arizona’s first cannabis cafe, which provides infused food ranging from hamburgers, pizza, and chicken wings to dessert and coffee. As such, the store has seen a need for a slew of employees with restaurant experience.

Walker was a well-experienced food server before coming on board with Mint. Now, she oversees many of the employees across the store’s dispensaries.

“My number one job is to make sure the employees are happy,” Walker said. “I know that if the employees are happy, the patients will be happy, and if the patients are happy, we can keep the vibes up and be a place people like coming to. So it really does trickle down.”

In her former job as a waitress, Walker was the bridge between the cooks, the kitchen staff, and the restaurant’s patrons. That experience transitioned easily into the cannabis field.

“I’m making sure I’m hearing people out. I’m listening to what they have going on, and we understand,” she said. “I just make sure everything is running efficiently — there’s coverage everywhere where the store needs to be.” (SOURCE)