A reader is wondering about legalized marijuana in our nation's capital, and what that means for the rest of the U.S. Here, House Representative-elects head down the steps after posing for a group photo outside the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 18, 2014. (Saul Loeb, AFP/Getty Images)

Cannabist Q&A: D.C. weed, industry job advice, cannabinoids in edibles

Welcome to our Ask The Cannabist column. Clearly you have questions about marijuana, be it a legal concern, a health curiosity, a Colorado-centric inquiry or something more far-reaching. Check out our expansive, 100-question Colorado marijuana FAQ first, and if you’re still curious, email your question to Ask The Cannabist at askthecannabist@gmail.com.

Hey, Cannabist!
Since D.C. is considered to be the nation’s capital, then wouldn’t it be assumed that what is legal in the nation’s capital should be legal nationwide?  Why can the government community enjoy legalization of marijuana, but the rest of country can’t?  This seems a little discriminate — it sounds like do as I say, not as I do. –Capitol Kaya

Hey, Capital Kaya!
Washington D.C. passing marijuana sounds elitist to your ears, eh?  Marijuana legalization reform might not happen as fast as the voters wish, we’ll have to see.

The District of Columbia is unique because as the nation’s capital, Congress, which normally operates federally, participates in the local governance of the city.  In practical terms, all local D.C. laws have to be be approved by Congress.

According to the D.C. Board of Elections, Initiative 71 passed with almost 65 percent of voters supporting the reforms in adult-use marijuana laws. The new law will allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 2 ounces for personal use, grow up to six plants at home (maximum of three in a mature, flowering state), give away (not sell) up to 1 ounce of marijuana and use or sell paraphernalia used to consume marijuana. The law doesn’t immediately go into effect, since local D.C. laws have to be be approved by Congress, this may take a while.

Morgan Fox, communications manager of Marijuana Policy Project says Congress usually approves the local laws. However, sometimes with controversial issues, the Appropriations Committee will block the local legislation. This happened back in 1998 after the medical marijuana law passed in D.C.  As Fox details, the Appropriations Committee basically froze the law by adding a rider to the annual federal budget preventing any funding for the medical marijuana law.  Fox notes that the restricted rider was removed from the federal budget and implementation of the medical marijuana law finally started in 2010.

Can legal weed in D.C. be considered a symbolic shift in American marijuana policy? “Absolutely,” Fox says.

Legislators and federal employees might not be living it up with recreational marijuana at the same time other Americans live in areas of marijuana prohibition. Workplace drug testing remains an unresolved issue. In Colorado, drug testing hasn’t changed much since legalization. People can still be drug tested for marijuana in pre-hire screenings or regular employment drug tests. Federally, marijuana is still defined as a Schedule I controlled substance, creating additional risks for federal employees who choose to consume marijuana off the clock. Fox adds, changes in workplace drug testing will eventually happen. “Private companies will be the first business sector to adapt and change company policies regarding off-work marijuana consumption. Federal employees will need a change in federal law in order to safely consume off the clock.”  XO

Is off-the-clock pot use “lawful”? In the Brandon Coats vs. Dish Network case before the Colorado Supreme Court, laws tangle on medical marijuana use and workplace

Hey, Cannabist!
I retired two years ago and currently do volunteer work. I want to rejoin the workforce on a part-time basis. The marijuana industry is very interesting to me since I partake on occasion. I’ve done a little research online and talked to people at different shops. As far as getting involved in an entry-level job, since I don’t know that much about the industry, I haven’t gotten any useful advice besides, “Get a badge.” Any advice on a direction I should head or resources I should approach? –Retired Roach

Hey, Retired Roach!
All right, here’s some employment advice for retirees (and anyone else interested in marijuana industry jobs). An employment  badge from Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division is a good start, but may not be necessary for every job in the cannabis industry. Ancillary businesses don’t require a badge unless the job involves being in direct contact with marijuana products or if the work is performed in a restricted-access area.

There’s no need to mention your occasional (or frequent or whatever) personal consumption habits to a prospective employer. It’s usually not a requirement for employment, and discussing the matter doesn’t make you a better-qualified candidate for a cannabis job.  I asked Megan Sanders, CEO of Mindful, a state-licensed company with three marijuana centers along the Front Range, for her recommendations.

Basically, a wide variety of jobs are available. Sanders says: “For starters, the cannabis industry can be compared to most other existing industries in terms of employment needs. We need discerning HR professionals, accountants, marketing gurus and experienced sales and retail personnel, customer-service experts, security personnel and drivers.  We need business leaders and financial analysts, supply-chain managers and engineers. Readers retiring from a career in construction or sales could truly find their next career in cannabis.”

​Ask yourself if you are adaptable enough and prepared to thrive in a changing work environment.  Sanders shares, “Potential candidates should think about their working style as opposed to job specificity.  The cannabis industry is not for everyone.  Regulations and laws change frequently, on a city-by-city and state-by-state basis.   We look for people who are adaptable and ready to handle these changes in stride and understand we have a regulatory framework that guides our every step. Visiting stores and speaking with store staff may also be a good place to start.”

For creating your new résumé, evaluate your accrued work skills.  Sanders recommends identifying your skills and experiences that would translate to the industry, as well as finding where your passion lies.  For job placement, Sanders mentions temp agencies, job training, job fairs and web-based job boards.

Here are some leads for you. Job listings can be found through Hemp Temps, THC Jobs, Ms. Mary Staffing and 420 Careers. Job training is available by taking classes at Cloverleaf University or Oaksterdam University, among others. Recruiting companies like The Cultured Group and THC Staffing Group are coordinating talent for emerging cannabis companies. Good luck! XO

Jobs: Marijuana’s just the start — support businesses booming too

Hey, Cannabist!
Do marijuana edibles labeled as 100 mg THC contain just or predominantly THC. Or do they also contain other cannabinoids such as CBD? Thanks! –Green Goddess

Hey, Green Goddess!
Yes, edibles may contain other cannabinoids in addition to THC. Colorado regulations require that edibles available in recreational marijuana centers only be potency tested for THC.

Currently, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the predominant cannabinoids being utilized in plant breeding and consumption.   Marijuana, as you may know, for decades has been grown to maximize THC potency.  THC, with its psychoactive properties, is important to monitor for safety reasons because consuming too much THC in edible form can cause undesirable effects.  Now, strains are also being bred to maximize the potency of the CBD cannabinoid. In addition to not being psychoactive, CBD is believed to have many therapeutic benefits.

Usually an edible containing CBD will highlight this fact on the label because the product is designed for therapeutic benefits rather than psychoactive purposes. XO

The Maureen Dowd edibles saga: The New York Times columnist and her legendary bad trip on edibles caused quite a stir this year in Colorado

Edibles 101: Here are eight tips for getting the right dose when eating marijuana-infused foods