The millennial workforce is likely to be robust to say the least. Not only are there a whole lot of them, but they are in touch with the most innovative technological designs out there today. Whether they think about it or not, the masses flow towards the paths of least resistance. There is a tremendous amount of competition in the fields of law, medicine, technology, engineering, etc., but there may not be as much in the cannabis industry. The science being used to grow marijuana is some of the most advanced in the world.
Marijuana is an area of intrigue, it is new and most importantly, it is changing regularly. Change means opportunity, hence millennials flooding into the cannabis business world. Have you looked into what the cannabis industry has to offer?
DOYLESTOWN, Pa. — Growing up in a Colonial home in Downingtown, Alessandro Cesario cultivated an interest in the family garden, trying to become “in tune” with plants and insects, and by the time he was 16, he knew he wanted to work with plants in his career. Specifically, one plant: cannabis.
So he spent four years at Delaware Valley University, taking courses in hydroponics and working in greenhouses and on farms. His ambition was no pipe dream: After he graduated in 2013, Cesario made the jump from vegetables to cannabis — moving to Las Vegas to become the director of cultivation for Desert Grown Farms.
“It’s not like you’re walking into a cubicle, that’s for sure,” said Cesario, 26, who said he works 80 to 90 hours a week managing plants in a 58,000-square-foot warehouse. “Everyone’s super stoked to be here and just to be around the plants.”
Delaware Valley University, in Doylestown, which is one of the top providers of agriculture degrees in the state, offers students a chance to study hydroponics — a system for growing plants without soil and a technique used in the cannabis industry. By working with such plants as basil, students can gain specialized skills that can be applied to jobs in the medical marijuana industry.
As applicants young and old flood the marijuana job market in states across the country — and Pennsylvania is now getting its turn — millennials such as Cesario are among the first generation of college graduates who can job-hunt in the legal marijuana industry.
“We’re getting deluged with résumés,” said John Pohlhaus, CEO of Franklin Labs, a grower-processor in Reading.
Pennsylvania is one of 29 states that has legalized medical marijuana. Eight others have approved recreational marijuana, and Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) even introduced a bill last week to legalize medical pot on the federal level. In New Jersey, medical marijuana is legal, and a recreational bill was introduced in May, although Gov. Christie has vowed never to sign it.
Working in the industry requires passion, Cesario said: The delicate plants are “finicky,” and growing medicine means you can’t make mistakes.
“It’s really just overall plant knowledge that’s really helped me to come in here and just know what I’m doing,” Cesario said. Some head growers “are just more like basement growers where they’ve learned over the years” and might struggle to size up.
“DelVal really prepared me to make that jump straight into commercial,” he said.
The school, which is in the midst of creating a new academic specialty in hydroponics and aquaponics, does not teach students how to grow cannabis, nor is it grown on campus. But interim dean Christopher Tipping said he is asked about it “all the time.” His constant reply: “I’ll teach you how to grow a tomato, and if you can grow a tomato, you can grow cannabis.”
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