I finally landed a job that I love in the MMJ industry, so I couldn't help but give you all a little glimpse into what I do at work. All dispensary grow rooms are going to be different, and each grow assistant will probably have different tasks to do each day, but here's what it's like working at The Treehouse in Colorado Springs.
HOW TO LAND A GROW ASSISTANT JOB
But before I get started, let me clear the air about what it takes to actually be hired as a grow assistant in Colorado. I had assumed, incorrectly, that to end up working in a dispensary grow room you either had to work your way up the ladder, by being something like a trimmer first, have a bunch of cannabis plants you grew to show you know what you're doing, or just know the right people to land the job. But in reality, you can easily start out as a grow assistant, if you have the following three things...
First of all, you need to go get your Support Badge as soon as possible! Don't make your potential employer wait around for you to get badged - you will be WAY more appealing if you already have it, since you'll be able to start working right away. And a Support Badge is just your credentials to work in this amazing industry - it also proves that you're not a felon, or someone skipping out on paying child support, or something along those lines. You can partially see mine hanging around my neck in the picture above.
And since you'll just be assisting others in the grow room, all you really need to know is very basic knowledge about growing cannabis. You don't have to have your own strain with multiple Cannabis Cup wins, you just need to know the basics, and you'll learn the rest as you work. And since every dispensary is going to have their own methods for growing cannabis, it's usually better that you come in with a clean slate and learn THEIR methods, instead of trying to do everything your way. I mean think about it, your little grow closet at home isn't going to be half as advanced as a dispensary grow room, so put on your thinking cap and get ready to learn as much as you possibly can. Trust me; you'll learn a lot quicker working at a dispensary than you will growing at home.
But the last little tidbit you're going to need to land a grow assistant job is reliability. Yes, you need to be reliable at any job, but you're going to be around a lot of expensive merchandise, so you need to do a little more than just show up at work every day. They need to be able to trust that you'll work hard, help them grow great plants, and that you're not going to be sticking buds into your pocket when they're not looking. Most people realize this without having to be told, but you'd be surprised how stupid some people are these days! When you land a well-paying job, where you get to be surrounded by heavenly-scented plants and chill coworkers, you leave your fuckery at the door and be thankful that you get to "live the dream".
WHERE DO I WORK?
After replying to TONS of posts on Craigslist, I managed to land a job at The Treehouse at 34 Buchanan Street, in Colorado Springs. They have seedling/clone rooms, veg rooms, flower rooms, plenty of medicated products, and they even make their own bubble hash. And I usually tend to one of the veg rooms (which is pumping out 10,000 watts of metal halide goodness), as well as 6 different flowering rooms (which ring in at 18,000 watts of high pressure sodium lovin'), all of which run on an alternating light schedule. Everyone here is really laid-back, and I've learned a lot already in my first week, but what matters most to me is that I'm actually happy to be working with them.
My last job in the industry wasn't very organized and it stressed me out almost every single day I worked for them, so I had no problem quitting. I don't care that I used to earn almost 3 times as much, I'm actually happy here and I'm in it for the long haul! Now let's take a look at what I do every day...
As you'll soon see, I do a lot of the watering at The Treehouse, but plants need more than just water... they need nutrients too! So, one of the biggest tasks for me is to mix up the proper dosages of nutrients, based on the age and health of the plants, so that they produce some of the biggest, stickiest buds you've ever seen. And while there are a number of different ways to ensure your cannabis plants are well fed, based on the medium you use and your personal preferences, most of the plants I tend to are fed nutrients that are mixed directly into aerated water, kept in 50 gallon barrels.
PH BALANCE THE WATER AND NUTRIENTS
But before I can start watering the plants, I have to make sure that it's pH balanced, because if you want the best buds possible you need to grow your plants in a medium, and with water and nutrients, within a certain pH range. You don't want your plants growing in a overly acidic or alkaline environment, just like we, as humans, start to show wear and tear if we don't keep ourselves internally pH balanced. And luckily for me, I don't have to mess with any testing strips, because I'm provided with a handy digital device, made by Bluelab, which quickly lets me know if I need to adjust pH with the crystals we have on hand.
And once the nutrients have been mixed into the water, and everything has been pH balanced, I start dunking 5 gallon buckets into the barrel and carry them off to whatever grow room I happen to be watering at the time. They are usually quite a few plants in each grow room, and I have to gauge which plants need more water than others, based on weight and saturation levels, so that they don't dry out overnight or get so saturated that the roots can't breathe. And other than having to finish off each room before the lights are scheduled to turn off (at least in the flowering rooms), I'm able to work alone, at my own pace, giving the plants the TLC that they need!
SECURE HEAVY BRANCHES
But, as most growers know, if you're doing things right, the branches on a cannabis plant are going to need a little support. Why? Because those buds get heavy, and you don't want your branches snapping and ruining your potential harvest! So, I usually keep a spool of twist ties close by, just in case I come across some drooping branches of sugary goodness, to help secure the branches to whatever stakes or cages might be anchored in the medium.
And luckily I don't have to bend over all day, risking my back to tend to the plants, because it's a lot easier to just get on their level and have a seat down near the floor. You can get a different perspective on the plants, pour the water in a lot more delicately, and you keep from brushing up against the branches all day. And, given that I'm 6'3", I'm sure my back, legs, and feet appreciate the position I work in.
SCOOT AROUND ON THE FLOOR
And even though my cheeks o' butt were a bit sore after the first day, it's actually kind of fun to scoot around on the wooden dollies we're given to work with. They make it easy to move from plant to plant, without putting too much stress on your knees or hitting your head on branches, and my booty meat is getting used to it, so I can't complain. Plus, you can pop a 5 gallon bucket of water and nutrients on another dolly and easily cart it around with you.
And that's pretty much my job in a nutshell! I get to be around gorgeous plants all day, making sure that they survive until harvest so that the people of Colorado Springs can stay medicated. I come home smelling incredible and I'm so happy to be working in a field that I passionately think about on a regular basis. Some would say I'm lucky to be able to work at a job like this, but it wasn't handed to me on a silver platter. All it takes is persistence and dedication to what you love, and eventually you'll be just as happy to be going to work as I am. What kind of persistence? I moved here in November of 2013, and I didn't land this job until the end of July in 2014... there's a lot of competition out there! Until next Wookwok Wakening, here's to being happily employed!