Posted by Ellie Herring and Sean Cooley / Dec 01, 2020

How to Work in the Cannabis Industry – Requirements by State

America’s got 50 states and every one of them has a unique set of laws. Not only does this state sovereignty lead to wild swings in speed limits, liquor store hours, and, when it comes to cannabis, the requirements mandated to work in the industry.

For example, Colorado requires any employee in the cannabis industry to obtain a MED badge, which means applicants must go through a MED badge background check, pay a fee, and schedule an appointment at an MED office. In California, cannabis industry employees are not required to have a badge or go through a background check, they simply need to meet the minimum age requirement or 21 years old to work at a dispensary or other cannabis businesses. With such a wide variance in requirements, those interested in entering the industry can get bogged down wading through each state’s legal information.

Launch the Industry Requirements by State Tool

As the leading recruitment platform in cannabis, we’re often fielding questions from job seekers on how to meet the requirements to work in the cannabis industry. That’s why we created an interactive cannabis requirements tool for navigating the state-by-state differences in licensing, background checks, and application processes. We developed a comprehensive resource that provides the necessary up-to-date information on how to legally work in cannabis.


Current Cannabis Laws in all 50 States

As of 2021, the following states allow both recreational and medical cannabis:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Illinois
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Washington
  • Vermont

As of 2021, the following states allow only medical cannabis:

  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

As of 2021, the following states do not allow medical or recreational cannabis:

  • Alabama
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Nebraska
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming




If you’re on a desktop computer, click on the state you wish to work in via the interactive map displayed. On mobile, click the drop-down menu to select your state.

Each state will display the current medical and recreational cannabis status. For legal cannabis states with employee requirements, the minimum age for entry into the industry and the application link will display as well.


Once you’ve selected the state you wish to work in, scroll down to the four sections: licenses required, requirements & application process, background check requirements, and additional links. This is where you’ll find the required information on how to work in cannabis given the best information made available by state regulators.

While a state may allow medical cannabis or medical cannabis facilities, the state may not have a cannabis employment framework in place. In the additional links section, you can find the state’s government marijuana program details, if one exists. For states without a cannabis framework, a link to a policy reform organization is provided.


If you meet your state’s requirements and the state requires a license or badge, click the application link at the top of the page by the name of the state to start the application process. Make sure to thoroughly read the application and submit all required documents. Be sure to double check the requirements listed on the government’s website before submitting the application.


Once your badge or application is approved or if you meet the requirements to work in a state that doesn’t require a badge, you can browse open jobs right from our resource page. Underneath the requirements to work in the cannabis industry by state section, you can follow the link to browse open jobs or sign up for our seasonal cannabis jobs platform, Vangst GIGS. For states where no jobs are currently available, you can subscribe to our newsletter in the footer to stay up to date on future opportunities.

Find Cannabis jobs in your state, CREATE A CANDIDATE PROFILE ON VANGST.


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Tags: cannabis education, cannabis jobs, cannabis industry