Move over “pot to prison” because as Lizzie Tribone of The American Prospect writes, there’s a new pipeline in town as one of the biggest influences the American workforce is seeing is the exodus of restaurant workers to cannabis industry jobs:
When Garrett Levis used to show up to his former job at a restaurant in Upper Michigan during the pandemic, he would have to mentally prepare himself for difficult and hostile encounters with customers. “I constantly had to fight with guests about wearing their masks and following guidelines,” he said. The verbal abuse he experienced took a serious toll on his mental health.
Levis, like many other restaurant workers, was given what a 2021 UC Berkeley Food Labor Research Center report defines as the “impossible task” of “policing the customers who directly subsidize their wages.”
Meanwhile, the “essential” labor of restaurant workers did not translate into higher pay or better working conditions; in fact, given customer anger, conditions had grown worse. Now, as restaurants fill with customers again, many service workers have decided to move on. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 4.3 million Americans quit their jobs in August, with quits in accommodations and food services increasing. In August, 892,000 of these workers voluntarily walked off the job, nearly 7 percent of the total workforce in just one month. It’s the largest figure of any industry.
Where are they headed next? Many have settled on a different industry entirely: cannabis.
Levis, who had never worked anywhere but restaurants until this year, found a new job in a cannabis shop, after he learned that one of his former co-workers had successfully done the same. He now works as a “budtender” and photographer at a dispensary in Crystal Falls called Higher Love.
He welcomes the pace of working in the cannabis industry, in contrast to the backbreaking speed of food retail. “We actually get breaks instead of going 100 miles per hour for 8 to 12 hours straight,” Levis told the Prospect.
“The dispensary I currently work for is also perfect because it is a startup, so the employee’s suggestions are really taken to heart,” Levis said.
…Levis said of his transition away from food retail to the cannabis industry, “I am extremely happy with the switch and I honestly think it was one of the best decisions of my life.”
PS: Higher Love is having a hiring event for their three UP dispensaries on Monday, Oct 18th!
photo courtesy @findhigherlove on Instagram