What do you need to work in cannabis in New York
What Do You Need To Work in Cannabis in New York

While there are no specific educational certifications required to work in a dispensary, obtaining a certification like our Dispensary Agent Certification can enhance your credentials.The legalization of cannabis in New York has opened a variety of opportunities in the cannabis industry. While this may be true, landing a job will take some research, dedication, and perseverance. 

For instance, you’ll need to understand the legal landscape and the requirements needed to enter this growing field. 

Overview of the Legal Status of Cannabis in New York 

Cannabis has been legal in the state of New York for medicinal purposes since 2014 and for recreational use since March 31, 2021. As of 2022, cannabis can be legally purchased by adults ages 21 and up through state-approved dispensaries.  

Per the The Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA), Adults 21 and older can legally possess up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis for personal use. New Yorkers 21 years of age and older can also grow up to 6 cannabis plants in their home for personal use (3 mature plants and 3 immature plants) and a maximum of twelve plants per household (6 mature plants and 6 immature plants). 

Adults may smoke or vape cannabis wherever smoking tobacco is allowed under the smoke-free air laws, with a few exceptions. 

Smoking or vaping cannabis is not permitted in these locations:  

    • Public areas of buildings  
    • Parks Beaches and boardwalks  
    • Public golf courses 
    • Inside and on the grounds of sports stadiums  
    • Pedestrian plazas  
    • Public gardens  
    • Restaurants Bars  
    • Cars and other motor vehicles (even while parked)  
    • Schools 

The MRTA legislation created a new comprehensive Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) to oversee and implement the law, issue licenses, and develop regulations outlining how and when business can participate in the new industry. The new Office also oversees the State’s existing Medical Marijuana Program and Cannabinoid Hemp Program previously regulated by the Department of Health. 

Growing Industry Opportunities in Cannabis Dispensaries

When cannabis was first legalized, the New York State Cannabis Control Board and the Office of Cannabis Management initially stated 150 licenses would become available under Gov. Kathy Hochul. Then, that number doubled to 300 in March 2023.  

To date, there are only eight licensed dispensaries in New York City and 23 open dispensaries in the state, according to the New York Office of Cannabis. So, what’s the reason for the shortfall? Bureaucracy and lawsuits. 

  • Legal Complexities: Court rulings, like allowing 23 stores to open, highlight intricate industry dynamics. 
  • Industry Resilience: Despite legal challenges, the industry persists, emphasizing regulatory understanding. 
  • Regulatory Changes: New York’s cannabis market adapts regulations; staying informed ensures compliance. 

In 2023, the state of New York was projected to collect around $56 million in cannabis tax revenue from the 23 stores in operation.  

However, as the market continues to grow and more licenses are distributed, the state is expecting to generate over $350 million in tax revenues per year while creating over 60,000 new jobs.  

Requirements to Work in Cannabis in New York 

Educational Qualifications and Certifications 

While there are no specific licenses or cards required to be an employee at a New York cannabis facility, obtaining a certification like our Dispensary Agent Certification can help enhance your credentials.

Age and Legal Requirements 

    • Individuals must be at least 18 years or older to work in a dispensary in New York. 
    • Prospective employees are subject to thorough criminal background checks to ensure compliance with state regulations.  
    • Dispensary owners must register all employees with the New York Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). 

Skills and Traits Desired by Dispensaries 

Customer Service Skills 

Excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to provide exceptional customer service are essential for working in a dispensary. Employees often interact with patients and guests seeking medical advice and guidance. 

Knowledge of Cannabis Strains and Products 

Aside from customer service, you’ll also need a solid understanding of different cannabis strains, products, and their effects. Employees should be able to educate patients on various products, their onset times, and their potential benefits. Our dispensary agent certification course can help get you up to speed on all of these topics in just 10 hours or less.

Ability to Work in a Regulated Environment 

Cannabis companies operate within strict regulatory frameworks, requiring employees to adhere to all state laws and regulations governing the cultivation, manufacturing, sale, and distribution of medical marijuana. 

How to Get Started Working in a Dispensary 

Research Available Job Opportunities 

Online job portals like Indeed or LinkedIn and Industry-Specific websites like Vangst.com often list job openings in dispensaries. If those aren’t working fast enough for you, you can also try working with an industry-specific recruiting company like FlowerHire to get the ball rolling. 

Building your network within the industry can help you get a leg up with new opportunities. Attending industry events, joining professional associations, and networking with individuals already working in the cannabis industry can help provide valuable insights and job leads. 

Craft a Compelling Resume and Cover Letter 

Tailor your resume to highlight any relevant experience, such as previous work in customer service or healthcare, as well as any certifications or training related to the cannabis industry. Be sure to emphasize your passion for the cannabis industry and its potential to improve peoples’ lives. If you need more ideas, we created a quick guide that can help you create an interview-worthy resume. 


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