Canada: Cannabis job fair highlights opportunities for women, people with cannabis experience

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Danielle Jackson, a cannatherapy consultant and edutainer also known as Miz D, says the legalization of cannabis will provide opportunities for women to show leadership through compassion. Jackson said there are therapeutic uses for cannabis for baby boomers and seniors. 

The budding cannabis industry presents opportunities for women and people looking to use their experience with cannabis when it becomes legalized in Canada later this year.

That’s according to those in the industry at the CannabisCon job fair held at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on Saturday.

Danielle (Miz D) Jackson, an activist and cannatherapy consultant from Vancouver, said as a longtime consumer, the opportunity to create a career helping others was “irresistible,” despite existing prohibitions.

“Cannabis is the closest thing to a fountain of youth available to mature consumers,” she said.

She has created a business to help people who are looking to explore cannabis safely and effectively, and help experienced users maximize the benefits. She said cannabis helps people physically, mentally and spiritually.

With the ever-growing demographic of baby boomers like herself, needs are changing.

“We’re aging, especially women dealing with women’s health,” Jackson said. “I went through menopause. That was a nightmare.”

Along with legalization, Jackson said she wants to see people with possession charges and other non-violent offences have those records erased.

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“Being a minority myself, I know that this affects my community very much,” she said. “Ultimately, what I would love to see is people that have been involved in the industry through the black market that have developed records because of that, I would like to see them have an opportunity to be involved in the legal cannabis industry.”

For Claire Buffone-Blair, director of communications for Sundial Growers, the biggest change in going from working for a cranberry grower to legal medical cannabis was the rate of harvest.

The more she learned about the industry, the more she wanted to get into it.

“This is the biggest social-change project in a long, long time,” she said.

Sundial is currently licensed to cultivate and is building a purpose-built facility near Olds that will be 500,000 square feet.

Buffone-Blair said when they recruit, they’re looking for people with experience in the field and are hiring in marketing, communications, sales and human resources like any organization would need, as well as quality assurance professionals, growers, sanitation workers, facility workers and maintenance people.

“Health Canada is not discriminating against people that have a record, and if the employees meet our profile requirements and have the skills to do the job, then we’re open to having conversations,” she said.

The exhibitors ranged from scientific to spiritual, from infrastructure to growers. Conference manager Howard Silver said the industry is expecting up to 100,000 new jobs nationally from economic spinoffs. A huge part of that is women in the market, Silver said.

“The idea of this was to bring together the legal part of the industry,” Silver said, adding Health Canada, the Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission and other government agencies were part of the conference.

Federal reports are hoping to shift the black market to a craft market of boutique growers that are compliant with regulations.

“There’s a tremendous amount of expertise that the black market has that the industry really wants to bring into the mainstream,” Silver said.

While numbers were not immediately available for Edmonton, approximately 400 people turned out for the job fair event in Calgary.

David Remillard, curriculum development with Kwantlen Polytechnic in the Lower Mainland British Columbia, said the programming is teaching people to work within regulations, including sanitation and record keeping within the medical and recreational markets.

“Even if they’ve been growing for 30 years, it’s a different story moving to the regulated system,” Remillard said.

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