Marijuana Goes From Extracurricular To The Classroom

Photo Credit: Adriana Heldiz

An Encinitas-based company that connects marijuana companies with workers got media attention recently when it posted an advertisement for a “420 product tester.” The stories practically wrote themselves, revolving around the same theme: Get paid to smoke pot.

But the legal industry is much bigger than that. Local recruiters are also looking for marketers, purchasing directors and, of course, budtenders, the people who walk the floors of dispensaries answering questions about strains and potency and whatnot.

With these and other job skills in mind, Christine Fallon has created a course at the San Diego Community College District’s Cesar Chavez campus. It’s broken into three sessions that cover horticulture, pharmacology and the law, with an emphasis on the permitting process.

Fallon hopes to expand on these lessons and turn the course into a certification program, giving marijuana workers a greater base of knowledge for things like pesticides.

“It’s the industry that needs to demand it,” she told the Voice of San Diego Potcast. “It’s us, it’s the customers. We need to go into the dispensary and say, ‘Hey, are you getting your buds tested?’”

For the time being, Nathan Lou, a health and wellness consultant who teaches the session on horticulture, said the course provides a lot of information in a short period of time without overwhelming the audience.

“After the class, we leave students with a very broad scope of understanding about how the field could work,” he said. “But of course with more knowledge comes more awareness that you need to know more details out there.”

Not all the jobs pay well. Some budtenders and deliverers are lucky to get $15 an hour. The same goes for some security guards. Marijuana is becoming a retail trade like any other, and whether it can sustain good careers — or devolve into the fast-food model — is still an open question.

Also on the podcast: The California Bureau of Cannabis Control has sent cease-and-desist letters to at least 375 illegal operators of marijuana dispensaries and deliveries in the San Diego region in recent weeks, as part of a statewide crackdown. The city of San Diego has only 12 legal dispensaries. Those numbers suggest that the black market is doing just fine, and some local law enforcement is skeptical that bad actors are going to willingly leave the industry.

Last week, District Attorney Summer Stephan suggested that pot wasn’t high on her list of priorities, especially if it meant fewer resources for prosecuting murder or domestic violence or child abuse cases.