December 13, 2016 / Cultivation

Are You Ready to Become a Cannabis Cultivator?

If you have been contemplating a career change, the right opportunity may finally be here. Cannabis cultivation is a fast growing field now that 29 states and Washington, D.C., permit some form of legal consumption, whether medical, recreational, or both.

Cannabis cultivation takes perseverance, courage, and patience to succeed. Growers must be available 24/7 to tend to issues that can affect their yield, or have a staff that can support them. They also need to follow complex legal requirements which vary from state to state. Although it is more legal throughout the country than ever, there are still risks that come with the territory. The payoff, however, can be well worth it. Six-figure incomes are common in this sector. Download our checklist on what to know when starting a cultivation career.

What it takes to become a cannabis cultivator

Horticulture knowledge on a commercial scale. Cannabis cultivators need to know everything about pH levels, soil, pests, and pesticides, and then figure out how to scale it to hundreds or thousands of plants. Further your education with books from established experts, such as Ed Rosenthal (Marijuana Grower’s Handbook) and Jorge Cervantes (The Cannabis Encyclopedia).

An understanding of issues specific to cannabis. Key skills for growers include knowing how to properly harvest, trim, cure, weigh, and label cannabis. Successful growers also experiment to develop strains for specific needs, which is often secretive, proprietary work.

Business skills. As entrepreneurs, cannabis growers need to build relationships with retailers and suppliers, maintain budgets, manage people, and keep track of policies and regulations that impact the industry. They also need to keep an eye on cannabis industry trends, such as the potential for commercial farms to crowd out smaller ones.

A love of details. Cultivators monitor and document every change in their plants through each stage of growing, and they must understand and abide by complex state regulations to stay in business. Success lies in the nitty-gritty.

A love of jazz. Growers don’t have to love the music, but they do need to be able to improvise like Charlie Parker when something unexpected happens. Because it will – often. Hoses leak, employees call in sick, equipment breaks, inspectors appear. Successful growers find a way to turn the noise into bebop.

Getting a cannabis cultivation license

Each state uses different criteria for cannabis licensing, but most require that you are at least 21, live in the state where your business operates, and have a felony-free criminal record for the past 5 years. Licensing fees are expensive. Maryland growers pay a one-time $4,000 application fee then $125,000 every 2 years to renew it.

The steep cost doesn’t seem to deter people from applying. Last summer, the Arizona Department of Health Services opened licensing registration for less than two weeks and received 750 applications for the 31 licenses that were available.

Find out what you need to do to apply for a state cannabis cultivator license by visiting your state government’s website. There, you can read the requirements for licensing, download the paperwork, and find out when everything is due. It can take weeks to assemble your application properly, so give yourself plenty of time.

Real estate can be a good place to store profits

Growers will passionately defend their preference for growing cannabis indoors or outdoors. Either way, real estate plays an important role in their business. States require cultivators to follow strict zoning laws, such as being at least 1,000 feet from public parks, schools, or child care centers. Vacant properties in the right zone are now selling for top dollar.

Many growers find real estate to be a good place to invest their profits. Since marijuana is illegal at the federal level, banks cannot open accounts or secure loans for cannabis startups. Many just say no, however, some will open accounts for cannabis entrepreneurs, but charge hefty fees up to $3,000 a month.

The career forecast looks sunny

This young industry employs between 46,000 and 60,000 people in cultivation operations and dispensaries, a number that is trending sharply upward.

Despite still being prohibited in many states, marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in America. Between 2014 and 2015, the market grew 74%, and economists are projecting a $30 billion industry by 2019.

It’s an exciting time to venture into cannabis cultivation. If you have a knack for nurturing plants and are willing to do the work, you can earn some serious cabbage.

SIVA Enterprises is a full-service cannabis business firm that provides consulting, turnkey management, venture opportunities, and brand acquisitions and licensing to cannabis entrepreneurs across the country. Learn why we have the highest success rate of approved cannabis license applications in the United States. Contact SIVA at (818) 562-3362 or

cannabis cultivation career

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