Dave Rheins says the economics behind Washington’s growing marijuana industry are promising, but 2015 is the year that will define the new market’s strength. The hundreds who attended Saturday’s Marijuana Business Association job fair in Bellevue were those looking to fill just a small portion of the 30,000 positions cannabis is expected to create over the next year.
Rheins founded the MJBA following the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012, which made marijuana legal in Washington and opened the market for recreational cannabis producers, processors and retailers. A businessman who has held executive positions with America Online, Time Warner and SPIN, to name a few, Rheins said the MJBA is legitimizing an industry that will continue to be met with mixed criticism until its economic impact is witnessed through job growth and tax revenue.
“I think the biggest way to change culture is money,” said Rheins, and the $3 million in tax revenue over the first two months of recreational marijuana sales, with only a handful of stores open statewide, will pale compared to the next report. “2014 was always a test year. There really aren’t any expectations until 2015.”
More than 250 tickets had sold before Saturday’s job fair, drawing in entrepreneurs and jobseekers looking to meet potential employers, many of whom are now expanding their companies into the Puget Sound region. And the jobs being created are not limited to those skilled in growing, processing and selling marijuana; weed is also creating jobs for security, engineers, equipment manufacturers, marketers, chemists and attorneys.
At the early stage in Washington’s marijuana industry, however, cultivators are still in strong demand, said David Muret with Veridian Staffing, which accepted numerous resumes Saturday from those hoping the agency will be able to find them an employment position. He added there are those who got lucky, winning the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s lottery to open a retail shop without realizing all that would entail.
Veridian Staffing is now getting requests for administrative and sales support positions. Because it remains taboo, Muret said the staffing company is careful protecting job-seeking clients during reference checks, so as not to tip off former and current employers they are looking to succeed in the marijuana industry.
Kerri Accardi said her 420 Media is localizing in Seattle, producing several film series meant to educate people about the benefits of marijuana. Accardi said she opposes pharmaceuticals, and believes marijuana needs more media exposure as a medical aid. She was at Saturday’s job fair to watch seminars, find prospective new employees and also clients looking for engaging digital content to grow their brands.
“We’re giving it a fair shot,” she said. “We’re about educating people. We’re in the process of filming a few series, right now.”
Rheins said he’s encouraged by the collaborative efforts being made by the Washington State Liquor Control Board, cities, counties and businesses to make the state’s marijuana industry a success, and believes future regulations on cannabis will free it up to do so.
“What you are seeing here is an industry and a whole community coming together,” he said.