Latinx Career Diaries: What It’s Really Like to Work in the Legal Weed Industry

Art by Alan López for Remezcla

As of 2016, Latinos make up 16.8 percent – 26.8 million – of the workforce in the United States. While there are plenty of statistics about the industries (tech, legal, STEM, and many more) where our communities are sorely underrepresented and how the wage gap disproportionately affects Latinas (and other women of color), we wanted to learn more about what it’s like to pursue your career goals as a Latino today.

That’s why we’re launching Latinx Career Diaries. Twice a month, we’ll offer you a peek into what it’s like to work a certain job as a Latino. The goal is to give you an idea of what people with your similar experiences earn, help you pick up some negotiation tactics, and provide guidance if you’re embarking on your career.

Submit a questionnaire here, and check out more Latinx Career Diaries here.

These responses have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Age: 33

Background: Chicana

Preferred Pronoun: She

Job Title: Co-Owner/Compliance Director

Years at Current Job: 3

Location: Ashland, Oregon

Years of Experience: 8 years, on and off

Salary: $70,000. I’m definitely not paid what I’m worth.

Negotiation Process: It was a very uneven process. I was desperate for a job and didn’t feel like I had room to negotiate, even though I was way overqualified and was more highly educated than any of the owners. It taught me to recognize my worth and stop settling for less.

Benefits: None.

Cost of living in your city based on your salary: I can somewhat afford the cost of living. If I lived alone, the cost of housing would be much higher

How I Broke In: I have a history using medical cannabis when diagnosed with cancer at 21 years old. I trimmed at medical farms in California after undergrad and again after grad school for extra cash and to fund unpaid internships and pay student loans. In 2015, I was asked to help start a dispensary in Oregon.

Why I’m here today: I took a risk, worked harder than my colleagues, and was proactive learning about new laws and regulations when no one else was interested.

Responsibilities: I direct and implement compliance measures for state and local regulations on medical and recreational cannabis, provide guidance to other cannabis businesses on regulatory compliance and licensing procedures, human resource, manage daily operations of the dispensary, and product purchasing.

What I like Most/Least: What I like most is destigmatizing cannabis. What I like least is the challenges of being in a federally illegal industry.

Diversity: It can be very frustrating being in very much a “white bro” industry in Oregon, but I consciously make an effort to hire and promote POC and women.

Growth Potential: I don’t feel like there’s any growth potential any more. I’m actually leaving the company in a few months to do regulatory compliance consulting full time

What I wish I Knew Before: I wish I knew my worth and didn’t accept less than my real value.

Final Thoughts: We need more representation in the cannabis industry. Get up in here!