Report sheds light on Michigan’s cannabis job market

Lucas Henkel

Vangst, the leading hiring platform for cannabis workers, published in its 2023 job report that Michigan’s cannabis industry boasts more than 35,000 jobs — the second most in the country, just behind California. While states like Colorado and Oklahoma noticed a decline in the total number of cannabis-related jobs over the last year, Michigan added 4,000 jobs to its market.

According to Vangst, about 30% of America’s cannabis workers are cultivators — that’s more than 125,000 people across the country. This category includes trimmers and post-harvesters, who make $16 to $20 per hour; production technicians, who make $16 to $23 per hour; growers and cultivation technicians, who make $17 to $26 per hour; grow managers and cultivation managers, who make $65,000 to $90,000 per year; and cultivation directors, who make $100,000 to $150,000 per year.

After the cannabis is harvested, processors turn it into finished products. This category employs 18% of the industry — more than 75,000 people across the country. From carefully packaging weed into mylars and doob tubes to making dank edibles and pressing rosin, processors take cannabis to the next level. This category includes packagers, who make $16 to $20 per hour; edible specialists, who make $45,000 to $75,000 per year; extract technicians, who make $45,000 to $90,000 per year; and production supervisors, who make $75,000 to $110,000 per year.

Retail stores and medical marijuana dispensaries employ about 22% of cannabis workers — more than 91,000 people nationwide. Hundreds of budtenders work among the 20+ dispensaries in the Lansing area to help fellow stoners find products that are perfect for them. This customer-facing job category includes budtenders, who make $17 to $28 per hour plus tips, which average $7 per hour, and general managers, who make $65,000 to $100,000 per year.

In addition to providing reports on salaries and pay rates for some of the most common jobs in the cannabis industry, Vangst released a report in 2022 that shed light on the demographics of those workers. The 2022 Cannabis Industry Salary Guide reported that 49% of the companies surveyed employed workers with weed-related criminal records. As far as diversity, 72% of respondents identified as white or Caucasian, 12.9% identified as Hispanic or Latinx and 8.9% identified as Black or African American. 

When asked if they considered themselves part of the LGBTQIA community, nearly 42% of respondents said they weren’t part of the community but identified as an ally. This is more than double the percentage of folks that reported they did identify as part of the LGBTQIA community.  

See something? Say something 

If you or someone you know has witnessed anything sketchy while working, you have the right to report those incidents anonymously without retaliation. There are multiple organizations in Michigan that are ready and willing to receive complaints.  

While cannabis remains federally illegal, employees at numerous dispensaries and cultivation facilities across the country have unionized to fight for better working conditions. 

The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union is a labor union made up of 1.3 million workers in the United States and Canada. The a nonprofit organization believes in the power of ordinary people coming together to improve their lives and make a lasting difference for all workers. The organization represents tens of thousands of cannabis workers across the U.S. in dispensaries, labs, kitchens, grow facilities and more, helping workers secure better wages, protection from unfair discipline and benefits with a union contract. To learn more, visit ufcw.org/cannabis. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has regulatory jurisdiction over cannabis facilities. These include cultivation, processing, manufacturing and laboratory facilities and retail locations. Current and former employees of these workplaces, and even non-employees, can report health and safety concerns. Complaints can be filed on the administration’s website, osha.gov. They can be submitted anonymously if desired.  

Michigan’s Cannabis Regulatory Agency has a similar complaint-submission process for medical marijuana and adult-use establishments. Complaints can be submitted on its website, michigan.gov/cra, and may include photos, videos, emails and text messages in addition to a description of the event. Investigators will conduct an unannounced audit of the reported facility and note any violations. Depending on the depth of the situation, the severity of the violation can range from hefty fees to criminal charges. 


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