BeLeaf Medical is hosting a cannabis jobs fair Saturday in The Grove neighborhood of St. Louis, where it plans to open a dispensary under the name Swade next month.
It’s the largest cannabis company in Missouri, with 10 licenses to operate dispensaries, manufacturing and cultivation sites in the St. Louis area.
Jack Haddox, Swade director of dispensary operations, said the company plans to hire up to 60 people over the next two months to staff those locations. Pay will range from $15 an hour for an entry-level position to a yearly salary of $55,000 for more experienced roles.
“Not a lot of people in Missouri have dispensary experience and that’s fine,” he said. “What I look for is really more your traditional retail or hospitality experience. A lot of our best employees have come from the bar and restaurant industries.”
With many people in the hospitality sector still out of work, he said the company has been flooded with nearly 10,000 resumes since it started hiring. Swade opened a new location in Ellisville on Wednesday and operates another in St. Peters.
Now, he said he’s hoping to hire St. Louisans local to the neighborhoods where the next dispensaries will open. By May, that will include Delmar Boulevard and Cherokee Street too.
“The Grove specifically, it’s such an eclectic kind of anything goes area. It’s a very bright and colorful, very LGBTQ friendly area, and our people will reflect that,” he said.
He’s also encouraging people with a past criminal history, including marijuana-related felonies, to apply for positions.
“We’re very, very aware of those people who have been adversely affected by the war on drugs,” he said. “People who can share a story like that, we want them working for us.”
Haddox is also partnering with the Canna Education Collective to help diversify the staff with more people from predominantly-Black areas of north St. Louis County.
BeLeaf is also a financial sponsor of the group’s cannabis resource center, which will hold a grand opening on Saturday in Dellwood. Melanie Marie Randels, Nicholas Morris and Eric Wilson are co-partners in the effort.
Randels said she hopes to work as a connector by promoting Swade’s job opportunities. She’ll be accepting resumes and helping people fill out job applications during the weekend event.
As dispensaries open across the region, Randels said she wants to make sure her community is aware of how to get involved.
“I think that having a resource center here to educate people more about the laws, what they can do, what they can’t do, how they can make a lucrative business for themselves within the industry, is all necessary,” she said. “I think the dispensaries are here just for that — they provide the medicine for us, but it’s up to us to really become educated on this industry.”
Randels said the goal is to help break down the barriers that Black people and other members of marginalized groups face in the predominantly white industry. Just 4% of licensed cannabis companies nationwide are African American owned and operated.
Money is often the biggest hurdle.
“We’re here because we want to see people make money. We want to see people begin to create generational wealth,” she said. “What I don’t want to happen is for us to miss out on this rush as a community. I want us to be present and be prepared for it as it unfolds.”
Randels said the new resource center is small but adaptable. The center will sell CBD, hemp and cannabis-related products made by local entrepreneurs, and there’s a multi-purpose room business owners can rent out to host meetings or pop-up shops.
Starting next month, the center will host workshops on financial literacy and cryptocurrency. It will also offer classes on how to grow cannabis at home.
Randels, who holds an at-home cultivation license, created a plexiglass-lined cannabis grow room so people can see the different stages of the marijuana plant as it grows.
The Canna Education Collective grand opening will take place Saturday between 3-6 p.m. at 10460 West Florissant Ave. in Dellwood. BeLeaf Medical will host the job fair between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday at 4108 Manchester Ave. in St. Louis. Both groups suggest bringing a resume.
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