Large turnout for medical pot dispensary job fair

The line of applicants outside the doors of the Grove Wellness Center on West Basin Avenue on Saturday was an indication of how many residents are seeking employment in Pahrump.

The soon-to-open medical marijuana dispensary held a job fair that attracted more than 100 applicants applied for a few positions.

The positions include what’s known as budtenders, an office receptionist and manager.

Chief Operating Officer Brian Hyun said he and Grove officials were surprised by the large turnout.

“It was positive and there was a lot of people waiting in line an hour before the event happened,” he said. “It began at 10 a.m., but people were waiting in line at 9 a.m. The line went straight out the door all the way down to the end of the facility. We were expecting maybe 50 people at most, but it was well over a hundred who came by.”

Hyun said the Grove is hiring in several areas, and he’s looking for local residents to staff the facility, while noting the salaries are very competitive.

He likened the facility to a retail store that’s open eight to nine hours a day, while noting the amount of foot traffic dictates how the facility will be staffed.

“We saw all types of people and experience levels,” he said. “Budtenders are those who are knowledgeable about all the products that we have.”

Some of the applicants in line were eager to share their thoughts on the job fair but chose not to be identified.

“I’m looking to do just about anything here,” one man said. “I’m not employed right now, but this could be a possible career.”

A woman who arrived roughly an hour after the doors opened promptly went to the back of the burgeoning line of applicants.

She said she was interested in the whole medical marijuana movement growing across the country.

“I’m willing to volunteer here,” she said. “I will work my tail off for them and they don’t have to pay me until they are ready.”

Hyun, meanwhile said Grove officials want to begin operations shortly after the holiday season.

“We still have to get state approval and on top of that, we have to start training,” he said. “Our goal in Pahrump is to hire local people, which will in turn help the economy. We saw a whole spectrum of people of different ages and backgrounds, and we were happy with the turnout and the quality of people who came by.”

Hyun also noted the number of medical marijuana cardholders will also determine how the facility will operate.

“We’ve been told there’s maybe 600 cardholders in Pahrump but some people have said that number is too high and others say it’s too low,” he said. “It’s a number that we don’t know for sure and of course that will determine how busy we will be out here. When we were out at the Fall Festival, the main questions we were getting was when we are opening and where could people get a card.”

Hyun said at present, those looking to secure a medical marijuana card will be forced to wait longer.

“When I got mine last year, it took only 30 to 40 days, but now it’s taking 2 to 4 months to get a card due to the backlogs,” he said. I know the Nevada Division of Public Health is trying to hire more people to process the information and alleviate the backlogs.”

As a brand new industry, Hyun said Grove officials have been looking at other states where medical marijuana is a thriving business.

The idea, he said, is to learn what works in the industry and what does not.

“We just came back from a trip to Denver so we are watching how things are going in Colorado,” he said. “It seems like our team is going there at least once a month, to keep up with the current trends and what’s going on out there. We follow the regulatory laws out there very closely and we need to make sure we understand what’s going on out there to kind of gauge what could possibly happen out here.”

While many businesses routinely have prospective employees tested for drugs, Hyun said Grove officials are still trying to determine whether they will follow suit.

“There are some firms in Colorado that do drug testing and we’ve talked about drug testing internally,” he said. “We are still trying to determine which direction we want to go with that and we’re still kind of working out the logistics to it all.”

Hyun also spoke to the fact that more and more states are considering whether they want to provide medical marijuana.

He said the thought of a legitimate medical marijuana industry in this country was something he thought would never happen when he was growing up in southern California.

“I would have to say I didn’t think there would be a time in this country where marijuana would be considered a viable industry, but right now there are 23 to 24 states that allow the use of medical marijuana, and 4 states that allow recreational use,” he said. “Next year in 2016 there will probably be more states putting the question on their ballots.”

One challenge Hyun said was convincing his family of the benefits of medical marijuana.

“My father is a minister and my mother is very cautious about all of this,” he said. “I try to teach her about the medical side of marijuana, and I think she is coming around.”

Contact Selwyn Harris at Follow @sharrispvt on Twitter.