Tokin’ with Tolbert: Chocolate takes over at the Hemp & Cannabis career fair

Cannabis has become an integral part of the Colorado community. As resourceful entrepreneurs continue to make their way to the Mile High City with hopes of owning their own businesses, the need for qualified employees has become even more evident.

Cultivated Synergy, a collaborative workspace that brings together cannabis related businesses hosted its’ first biannual Hemp and Cannabis Career Fair in February. The two-day event included
over 25 marijuana business like hemp manufacturers, glassblowers, edible and vape companies, research labs and more who are looking for qualified and passionate people.

Cannbis schedule“The purpose of the career fair is to put the right people in the same room together so that we can grow the industry and continue to move everything forward,” said Cecile Weigle who is the event director at Cultivated Synergy. “A lot of industry meetups are hosted here, educational seminars and monthly events. We also host monthly budtender appreciation night and a handful of other classes to support the community.”

Among the attendees was Binske, a new edible company in Oak Creek, Colorado. They have only been open since November 2016 but is already in 30 dispensaries with only four chocolate bars. But they’re not your average bar.

“The whole thrust of our operation is all organic, all fair trade and we don’t use any preservatives to make a nice luxury product,” said Craig Benson, the director of events and education at Binske. “The four products have a great story behind them. We use Honduran and Peruvian chocolate, which was extinct for over 100 years. There are very few chocolate makers who use this chocolate.”

The bars sale for $22 and has 100 mg extracted oil. Because of the product, Binske targets higher end dispensaries which are popping up more as stores expand into neighborhoods beyond urban areas.

So if you have a knack for making chocolates and other infused products, Binske is certainly a great option. In addition to kitchen staff employees, other positions are also available.

“We need to staff a dispensary, as well as grow our cultivation and extraction departments,” Benson said. “The trick is finding the right, truly qualified person for the particular job.”

People like Chris Harper, a Missouri native, arrived to Denver that morning with his family in hopes of finding a job in the industry. Harper studied bio chemistry in school and wants to apply his studies to the cannabis field.

“I’ve always had an interest in the molecules that come from plants,” Harper said. “The industry is flourishing but research has still been hampered for a long time. So there’s a lot of cool things to do in the field. Also, my paranoia seems to go away when I’m here.”

Another attendee at the fair was Rino Research, a research company dedicated to studying the medicinal benefits of marijuana. Owner and chemist Trevor Bockness started his company over a year ago a er working as an adjunct professor at CU Denver in chemistry then serving as a consultant in the marijuana industry.

“The people with technical and scientific knowledge wouldn’t enter into this industry, even a year ago,” Bockness said. “We process medical concentrates for dispensaries and other companies. We also do medical cannabis research to provide medicine that is safe and effective all the way from production to consumption. The companies that need to do the research and development aspect didn’t exist last year, and that’s why I’m here.”

Whether you have a passion for science and the chemical properties of plants or a skilled marketer, the cannabis industry has many routes one could take. But if you do make that jump into the world of ganja, be ready to be scrutinized by those who still doubt it as a legitimate profession. That’s when companies and individuals in the field band together to break barriers and misconceptions.

“Our team at Cultivated Synergy really wants to continue to elevate the industry. We know the world is watching so we want to do a good job,” Weigle said. “I think it’s important to build more community, it can be a siloed industry. People can sometimes have a difficult time making authentic connections. We can see from other industries the value of community and learning from each other. It’s not a competition, we want a collaborative energy. Thatt’s really the intention behind our business model.”

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