Elana Halpern, budtender at Altitude Organic Cannabis in Dillon, Colorado. (Summit Daily)

Cannabis workers may earn less than other industries, but they are more optimistic

Cannabis workers appear optimistic about their future, according to a new study from PayScale, a compensation data and software company.

According to the study, “68 percent of people working in the marijuana industry believe their employers have a bright future vs. 59 percent of American workers over the same time period.”

Data were based on 494 salary profiles from people working in the marijuana industry, both medical and recreational, collected from September 2015 to September 2017.

In addition to the jobs you’d think of in the industry — budtenders, store managers or growers — analysts, engineers, project managers, accountants and attorneys are part of the business.

Because of limited data, state level breakdowns were not statistically viable, but the survey did review U.S. median annual incomes in the industry to use a larger sampling size. The results:

– Retail store managers: $44,000.
– Budtender: $28,300 (with median $98 weekly in tips.)
– Operations manager (any type in the supply chain): $43,500.
– Medical marijuana grower: $38,000.

“It’s safe to say that retail growers earn similar wages to medical growers, though PayScale does not have specific data on this front,” the company told The News Tribune.

PayScale said it specified medical growers because retail pot growing remains illegal in most of the United States, and it wanted to collect data from the formal economy.

“The only caveat is that regulations do differ by state and, from what PayScale can tell, within a state between retail and medical, so these differing restrictions could potentially affect wages,” according to the company.

“A lot of what we’re seeing is in tech, financial and ancillary,” said PayScale’s chief economist Katie Bardaro. “There’s a lot of opportunity for growth because it is growing and increasing so rapidly. From accountants to developers creating online websites to brand-awareness people to help market products — all white-collar work.”

Other areas of growth are in research and development and the science of pot, she said.

This area could become much like “craft” beers, Bardaro said, with growers making a name for themselves with special strains released in limited amounts.

Debbie Cockrell: @Debbie_Cockrell

Information from The News Tribune(Tacoma, Wash.)