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Back in the early years, when my friends and I were about ten or eleven years old, we always thought it would be such a “cool” job to work at a liquor store. In our minds, these lucky people went to work every day, kicked back to some tunes, cracked open a beer anytime they wanted and, of course, sold a bottle of booze to a customer from time to time. “Man, that’s got to be about the best job in the world,” one of us would say. “Yeah, imagine how much beer that guy gets to drink,” another would chime in.

While other kids in the neighborhood wanted to be police officers, firemen or farmers, we wanted nothing more than to sling booze for the rest of our lives. It’s funny, none of us had ever tasted booze at the time, but we were convinced that selling inebriating substances was the career path of the gods.

But the reality was, our local liquor store clerk, a middle-aged man by the name of Wally Snider, was just an average guy, with his fair share of problems, trying to make ends meet on a minimum wage dead end job. There was nothing romantic or even remotely adventurous about the way he earned a living. He only made a few bucks an hour and didn’t receive any fringe benefits like getting half-cocked on the clock. No sir, as we would eventually figure out, he was just sitting behind a cash register all day waiting for quitting time, just like every other poor, working-class slob in the United States.

By the time marijuana started going fully legal across the nation, my friends and I were full-grown adults. I don’t think there is a single one of us that ever went on to pursue a career in retail booze sales.

But the legal weed sector sort of takes me back to those days when my friends and I used to sit on our bikes across the street from Lucky Liquors and fantasize about when we, too, would be as awesome as Wally Snider. Especially with all of the hype surrounding the number of Budtender jobs available. There is part of me now that wonders whether selling weed isn’t just the newest dead-end job.

I mean, what future is there in selling retail pot?

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Right out the gate, some protectors of the cannabis industry will argue, no, there isn’t a single position in the world of cannabis commerce that could be considered dead-end. After all, some of the latest statistics show that cannabis-related jobs have increased by 690 percent over the past year, with average salaries growing by more than 16 percent. And when it comes to accepting a position as a Budtender, those employees can expect to earn between $12 and $16 per hour. So no sir, no way is anyone employed with the cannabis sector at risk of losing themselves inside the dark circle of mediocrity and poverty as a result of joining this new legion of weed dealer known as Budtenders.

Yet, maybe it does. The term “Budtender” resonates in a way that could make prospective new hires feel like there is a level of prestige that comes with the position. But this title is a little bit misleading.

According to California-based employment agency Vangst, the job description for a Budtender is as follows:

“Provides excellent customer service to all patients and customers in medical and recreational dispensaries. Uses point-of-sale system and other technology to ensure all cannabis product sales are properly tracked. Provides information to customers on product choices, consumption methods, compliance, and safety. Remains up to date on all cannabis regulations to ensure compliance within the dispensary.”

So, let me get this straight: Budtenders must be friendly to customers, answer their questions about specific products and ring up their purchases. That’s precisely what old Wally Snider used to do down at the Lucky Liquor. And we’ve already established his stature in the job market. That’ll be $27.73, please!

Although $16 per hour is a better wage than other, traditional dead-end jobs, like washing dishes or taking orders at McDonald’s, there could come a time real soon when this is not exactly the case. Sure, the federal minimum wage is still only $7.25 per hour, but there is a push in some parts of the country to raise the minimum wage to the $15-mark. Many states and cities have already made a move.

In California, where the most substantial showing of the cannabis industry has emerged, the average hourly wage for any job is close to $25 per hour, according to the Sacramento Business Journal. In Colorado, it is about the same. The average salary is around $23 per hour, reports the Denver Business Journal.

Considering the reality of the overall job market in key legal states, selling weed is not likely to help people gain much more financial security than waiting tables. This is the reason positions like Budtender and Bud Trimmer, while essential to any dispensary operation, are considered the lowest earning jobs on the spectrum. Sadly, these low-level positions are the new minimum wage jobs of tomorrow.

But never fear – all is not lost.

There are plenty of higher paying jobs in the cannabis industry. The only difference is a person is not just going to walk in off the street and snag one of these skilled positions.

People who are dead serious about working with weed might need to invest in themselves before jumping into a job that pays the big bucks. The latest report from Vangst shows the highest-earning positions are: Director of Cultivation (up to $250,000 per year), Director of Extraction (up to $191,000 per year) and Outside Sales Representative (up to $150,000 per year).

Remember, just because some of these cannabis industry jobs appear “cool” or prestigious doesn’t mean they are really much different (or better) than any other retail position. And most budtenders will tell you that they are not permitted to get high on the job – they are too busy selling weed to droves of paying customers.

So to that group of youngsters hanging out across the street from a cannabis dispensary right now, dreaming of the day when they can do a job where they can be stoned all day, my advice is simple: Learn how grow a new, special breed of cannabis or invent something that is going to revolutionize the industry.

Only then will you see the big payoff.

Mike Adams is a contributing writer for Forbes, Cannabis Now and BroBible. His work has also appeared in High Times. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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