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Mass. pot industry projected to employ 20,000

Aaron Wang and Nic DiBella of local marijuana producer Siri Naturals spoke with prospective employees.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe
The Massachusetts recreational marijuana industry will eventually create the equivalent of nearly 20,000 full-time jobs, according to new projections released this week by cannabis technology company Weedmaps.

Using revenue and employment data from Colorado as benchmarks, Weedmaps predicted a mature Massachusetts marijuana sector would employ the equivalent of 19,300 full-time workers, both directly and indirectly.

Licensed marijuana companies would account for the majority of the positions, Weedmaps said, with more than 4,700 working at retail pot shops and another 8,700-plus divided among administrative, manufacturing, and agricultural jobs.

“This is everything from a scientist to a parking attendant to an HR manager to a director of diversity hiring,” said Jay Youmans, a lobbyist for marijuana companies and a cofounder of the Massachusetts Cannabis Business Association, or MassCBA. “When people see the titles, they realize it sounds like the org chart of any company. You’d never know it has anything to do with cannabis.”


Representatives of Somerville and Cambridge-based marijuana product producer Sira Naturals spoke with prospective employees at the job fair.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Weedmaps predicts an additional 5,800 or so jobs will either be created by companies that service the licensed pot industry — from law firms to construction contractors — or “induced” by the general economic activity surrounding the sector.

More than 160 jobs at 14 marijuana companies were up for grabs Wednesday night at the Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center in Roxbury, where the MassCBA and a coalition of advocacy groups hosted a job fair.

Within a year, Youmans said, those 14 firms expect they’ll need at least 480 employees. That’s one measure of the fast growth expected in the Massachusetts marijuana industry, which analysts believe will become a $1 billion business by 2021. State health officials, meanwhile, recently said the first two years of recreational sales should bring $216 million in tax revenue.

The job fair also included a free legal clinic for those hoping to seal records related to past marijuana convictions, an extension of the state’s efforts to bring cannabis workers and consumers out of the illicit market and into the regulated one.


“I hear the demand every day from folks who consume cannabis and now want to get involved on a professional level,” said Marcus Johnson-Smith, a community advocate and co-owner of the nearby Kush Groove smoke shop. “The talent is here, and it’s transferable. Folks are now being hired to do things they went to jail for.”

Businesses, too, stand to benefit from hiring passionate consumers and those with underground experience, Johnson-Smith added.

“If these folks were offered an opportunity to do outreach and marketing for a dispensary, that business could find a lot of success, because now they’re reaching consumers in a way that’s genuine and culturally relevant,” he said.

Good Chemistry, a Colorado-based marijuana firm that’s about to open its first Massachusetts medical dispensary in Worcester, is one company seeking workers.

So far, Good Chemistry has hired 24 workers to grow an initial cannabis crop at its Bellingham cultivation facility and prepare the Worcester dispensary for opening day. But with recreational sales starting this year, the firm will soon need about 100 workers to keep up with demand — or even more if it gets approval for additional shops.

Entry-level dispensary agents at Good Chemistry make around $15 an hour, a gig that comes with health insurance and other benefits, according to chief executive Matt Huron.

“On the dispensary side, we really look for people with retail experience, especially in a state like Massachusetts that doesn’t already have a lot of cannabis companies,” Huron said. “We want people who are personable, outgoing, and passionate about cannabis. There’s a lot of enthusiasm — people know that this industry is going to expand, and they see it as an opportunity to come in at entry-level and work their way up.”


Processing technician Aaron Wang and director of marketing Nic DiBella of Sira Naturals spoke with prospective employees at the job fair.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Ethan Bodhi Brin, a 20-year-old junior at Boston University who studies real estate and business, was one of the hundreds of prospective workers clutching folders of resumés in Roxbury Wednesday. His ultimate dream is to finish a master’s degree in hospitality and open a fine-dining vegetarian restaurant that offers cannabis-infused food — but for now, he’s just looking for a toehold in the business.

“I know you have to start at the bottom, but I could definitely see myself in this industry long-term,” Bodhi Brin said. “I’m looking for any job where I can help destigmatize cannabis use and give back to communities that suffered under the prohibition of it. Whatever lets me help the most amount of people.”

Dan Adams can be reached at daniel.adams@globe.com.