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Aspiring budtenders learning ins and outs of cannabis dispensary work at first community college course of its kind in Illinois

Robert Mccoppin, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Business News

Students cited a range of reasons for attending the class. Angelyn Anderson, an instructor in humanities at Oakton, hopes to help people of color like herself get into the field. She noted that the high price of entry, including licensing fees costing tens of thousands of dollars, will prohibit many who hope to participate.

"You've been sending people to jail for years, now you're going to make money off it," Anderson said. "How do we turn it around so it's a benefit?"

Suburban student Jason Reese said he had worked in the pharmaceutical industry until getting laid off in July as part of a corporate downsizing. He volunteers at a dispensary now and hopes for a new career path in a growing field.

Budtender jobs average around $14 per hour in Illinois, while a dispensary manager averages around $53,000, according to job site Indeed.com. Reese hopes that hourly workers will become salaried employees as the field expands and professionalizes.

Josette LaMonica, a mother of three from Arlington Heights who previously worked in insurance, plans to work at a dispensary. She said she's seen cannabis help friends with serious medical conditions, and was surprised at the extent of medical and legal expertise involved.

 

"It's going to be a competitive field," she said, "and I think the certificate will give me a leg up."

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