Legacy to Legal:
My Pathway into the Cannabis Industry
by Imran Rashid
There was a time when everything that people are now doing with cannabis was much less socially acceptable than it is now. Dispensaries would have been unheard of (or very underground), and only the very brave (or very stupid) would think of using social media to advertise cannabis products. Now however, it’s a brave new world. An entire industry is emerging, and with it, plenty of job opportunities. The emergence of legal cannabis has brought about a massive job market and I believe it represents one of the greatest opportunities for people to find meaningful employment. I want to share a little bit about the important role Lab Society played in my personal journey towards reaching that goal.
To start with, I currently work as a Processing Technician in British Columbia, Canada. I help produce high purity distillates via a cold alcohol extraction process. I wear several different hats as required, operating equipment like centrifuges, falling film evaporators, decarboxylation reactors, and distillation units.
Okay, so- you’re wondering where I went to school and what I got my degree in, right? I don’t have a degree in chemistry or engineering. When I started university, cannabis jobs and accredited cannabis degree programs—the whole pathway basically didn’t exist.
I was aware that the world of cannabis extracts had mostly been pioneered by black-market artists, who themselves may not have had special degrees. But what they did have was the ability to learn from trial and error and to seek and share knowledge. By the time I decided to go down the path of trying to get into the industry, I was dead-set against re-enrolling for a different 3 or 4-year degree program.
What served as my initial inspiration was personally knowing and being able to spend time with an extraction equipment manufacturer. I spent plenty of time at his warehouse, asking questions, taking notes, drawing diagrams, creating material for myself to study. I always encourage people to take advantage of connections in the industry when they can, because these visits gave me a better picture of how much I did not know and convinced me to look for more learning opportunities.
I started searching for mention of any types of extraction courses being offered.
(A Lab Society Short Path Distillation System is pictured above.)
Through posts on social media, I learned of Lab Society and their courses with Elevated Research Solutions. In the spring of 2018, I decided to visit their facility in Colorado for a weekend to learn about fractional distillation and crystallization of CBD.
This was the first proper extraction course I took, and it was quite the immersive experience, spanning two days. I came away with a wealth of information and had a valuable opportunity to network with some of my classmates. The courses were very thorough, immersive, and the instructors were able to answer any questions that anyone had.
This taste of direct, cannabis specific education only increased my hunger for knowledge. In addition to that, however, I gained more confidence in myself and what I knew about extraction. I started to attend cannabis conferences to connect with people, but also to pay special attention to the extraction exhibitors. As I learned more, I could ask more pointed questions, deepening my understanding of various nuances.
My networking also expanded online as well, and I found and attended webinars offered by pioneers in the extraction industry. Being able to find and take advantage of self-directed learning initiatives taught by pioneers who emphasize safety as much as innovation has been so helpful in my own development. In addition to traditional networking, I believe social media can be a powerful tool if used in the right way. Instagram is a massive networking opportunity for cannabis industry hopeful, and there are also informative Facebook groups, Discord channels, and subreddits.
2020 was an unfortunate, infamous year around the world, but for me it had a silver lining because I got a job in a licensed extraction facility, which I’ve now held for just over a year. I remember it feeling vindicating to accept the job offer because there were times when I doubted if I was going about things the right way—if I should have just gone back to university and adopted a more traditional approach.
Getting to know the Lab Society staff personally, we talked about how they got started. Their stories of entrepreneurship helped reinforce my belief that the direction I had chosen was the correct one, and it inspired me to keep going.
Part of the reason I stuck it out was learning that they too carved their own path. In addition to the knowledge I gained from their courses, they also gave me confidence to continue down a road that seemed a bit unorthodox, but one that eventually landed me a job.
I think other people can approach the cannabis space in the same way. With the industry being so new and fast-changing, the pathways into the various fields within are not so strictly defined. I believe a person who is flexible, with an open mind, and a passion for learning can take advantage of fantastic opportunities that are springing up in the cannabis industry.
Interested in getting into the cannabis industry?
Lab Society offers comprehensive, hands-on courses via our education platform, Elevated Research Solutions (ERS). These in-person classes are taught over the weekend in-person in Colorado. Get industry-leading SOPs, learn about the most important
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