A cannabis plant greets job seekers as they sign in at CannaSearch, Colorado's first cannabis job fair, on March 13, 2014 in Denver. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Marijuana job fair: With 500+ jobs on tap, CannaSearch expands scope

When marijuana job fair CannaSearch debuted in Denver in March, just a few months after legal recreational sales began in Colorado, organizers were overwhelmed with interested job-seekers who lined up in hopes of landing a job in the marijuana industry.

“It was mind-blowing,” said Todd Mitchem, co-founder of CannaSearch and a marijuana industry consultant. “We had no idea how many people might come out, but to see that level of response with that many people coming from out of state was shocking in a lot of ways.”

Following up on the Sept. 16 job fair
The scene: Fewer positions than advertised and trickle of job seekers throughout day at CannaSearch make for a more mellow experience
Video: Cannabist critic Jake Browne scopes out the job fair

In March, Mitchem estimated that 35 percent of the 1,200 attendees at the inaugural CannaSearch weren’t from Colorado. When the second CannaSearch takes over event space Mile High Station on Sept. 16 — offering more than 500 positions in Colorado’s ever-bustling marijuana industry — it will be an expanded event that hopes to better serve applicants and businesses alike.

The event’s move to Mile High Station is an improvement on its previous space, which was vape pen company O.penVape’s headquarters in the Golden Triangle. In addition to the larger digs, organizers are also hoping attendees make a full day of it. Food trucks will be on site for lunch. And the job fair, running 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and free to get into, is book-ended by an executive breakfast from 7:30-9 a.m. and an evening reception from 6-9 p.m. Both events are ticketed, $50 for the breakfast and $15 for the reception.

“In the morning breakfast, myself and other executives will talk about what it means to leave mainstream America and jump into cannabis,” Mitchem said. “It’s oriented toward people who want to be a manager or an executive in the cannabis industry, and they may not understand what they’re getting into.”

The evening reception will be more casual, Mitchem said, offering afterhours networking around a cash bar.

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CannaSearch will also include an educational component — new this time given the number of people who showed up at the first job fair hoping to work as a trimmer or budtender without realizing they needed to be credentialed by the state of Colorado for such jobs.

“My background is in education,” said CannaSearch co-founder Ashley Picillo, “so I wanted to make sure that we were not only connecting job seekers with companies but also educating them about how they could be qualified for these jobs, if they aren’t already.

“In addition to offering panels and speakers we’ll also have a continuing education area where job trainers can sign up for classes through Cloverleaf University or Trichome Institute or Cannabis Trainers — there are lots of options for people who are coming out, and even if they’re not quite ready to apply now they can take the training and be ready for the next CannaSearch.”

Some of the companies looking to fill positions at CannaSearch include dispensaries Strainwise, Medicine Man, Euflora, Walking Raven and Terrapin, edibles companies Dixie Elixirs and Incredibles and related businesses Mjardin, Amercanex and Hemp Temps.

See videos from the March marijuana job fair: Cannabist critic Jake Browne covered the line outside and the scene inside the first-ever CannaSearch job fair. See his videos.

“We have two hiring companies present and participating — Ms. Mary’s Staffing and Hemp Temps — and between the two of them they’re offering 70 positions,” said Picillo, who also runs cannabis consulting company Point Seven. “We’re also expecting business professionals. All of these companies require accountants and marketing professionals. There are lots of traditional jobs in cannabis, and we want people to know that those past experiences outside of cannabis are applicable to this.”

Organizers have already heard from business professionals as well as less serious job seekers, all of whom are told that CannaSearch is a job fair — not a pot-friendly party.

“People email and call and ask if there will be a smoking area or a dabbing area, which is hilarious because it’s a job fair,” said Mitchem. “I don’t go to the Pfizer job fair and take Oxycontin. We’re stressing that there’s no consumption at the event. These are people who want to get a job, not to see how high they can get before coming in.

“But it’s part of a maturing industry. People are still learning what’s appropriate and what isn’t appropriate around cannabis. One, it’s not legal to have open cannabis consumption in Colorado, but it’s also a job fair and you wouldn’t consume those products while you’re at a different job fair — so why would they be OK here? People are still learning what’s right and wrong.”

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