Part of the complexity and beauty of the United States is that each of our 50 states can set their own laws apart from one another. This structure is what allows states to legalize recreational or medical cannabis. As there is no federally legal cannabis regulation, states are left to create their own requirements for working in the cannabis industry. Politics, budgets, and public support vary widely by state, which means each state’s requirements to work in the cannabis industry look completely different from one another. 

For example, Colorado requires any employee in the cannabis industry to obtain an MED badge, which means applicants must go through a background check, pay a fee, and schedule an appointment at an MED office. Nevada requires employees to obtain an agent card, which has similar restrictions. In California, cannabis industry employees are not required to have a badge or go through a background check. With such a wide variance in requirements, those interested in entering the industry can get bogged down wading through each state’s legal information. 

That’s why we created a tool for navigating the requirements to work in the cannabis industry by state. Because we’re the cannabis industry’s leading recruitment platform, we’re often faced with the question of how to work in the industry from applicants. We developed a comprehensive resource that provides the necessary and available information on how to legally work in the cannabis industry by state. 

Launch the industry requirements by state tool

As of September 2019, the following states allow recreational and medical cannabis: Colorado, California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. 

As of September 2019, the following states allow only medical cannabis: Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.

As of September 2019, the following states do not allow medical or recreational cannabis: Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and Alabama. 

How to use the “How to Work in Cannabis – Requirements by State” tool

how to work in the cannabis industry

Step 1: Select your state 

If you’re on a desktop computer, click on the state you wish to work in via the interactive map displayed. On mobile, click the drop-down menu to select your state. 

Each state will display the current medical and recreational cannabis status. For legal cannabis states with employee requirements, the minimum age for entry into the industry and the application link will display as well. 

Step 2: View the requirements

Once you’ve selected the state you wish to work in, scroll down to the four sections: licenses required, requirements & application process, background check requirements, and additional links. This is where you’ll find the required information on how to work in cannabis. 

It’s important to note that this data is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be all inclusive and is provided using the best information available by state regulators. It is also not updated in real time, therefore some small inaccuracies may exist.

While a state may allow medical cannabis or medical cannabis facilities, the state may not have a cannabis employment framework in place. In the additional links section, you can find the state’s government marijuana program details (if one exists). For states without cannabis framework, a link to a policy reform organization is found in the additional links section. 

Step 3: Begin the application process

If you meet your state’s requirements and the state requires a license or badge, click the application link at the top of the page by the name of the state to start the application process. Make sure to thoroughly read the application and submit all required documents. While we aim to make sure our “How to Work in Cannabis” tool is as accurate as possible, state governments may make changes to the requirements before we update the page, so make sure to double check the requirements listed on the government’s website before submitting the application. 

Step 4: Apply for a job!

Once your badge or application is approved or if you meet the requirements to work in a state that doesn’t require a badge, you can browse open jobs right from our resource page! Underneath the requirements to work in the cannabis industry by state section, you can follow the link to browse open jobs or sign up for our seasonal cannabis jobs platform, Vangst GIGS. For states where no jobs are currently available, you can subscribe to our newsletter in the footer to stay up to date on future opportunities. 

We hope this tool helps clarify the process of working in the cannabis industry by state. Make sure to check back regularly for updates on newly legal states. If you have any questions, leave us a comment below!