I graduated in 2013 with a Bachelors degree in Women’s & Gender studies, and a minor in Philosophy. After the post-graduate bliss rapidly faded, the real world caved in quickly. I did not want to immediately go to graduate school because I wanted some time away from academia to explore career options, and give myself time to dial everything in. I feel like so many of my friends and colleagues immediately turn to grad school because the job market is so fucking bleak. After I graduated, I applied for fifteen jobs that required a degree. After I heard back from zero employers, I began to apply for jobs that I was overqualified for in hopes that I would be a competitive candidate. Still, nothing.
In high school I had the idea that you HAD to go to college to get a good job – unless you want to end up “flipping burgers” at a fast food joint. As a recent grad, I can tell you that there is nothing more infuriating than shelling out over thirty grand on an education that can’t even guarantee get you a job in an office. Granted, I absolutely loved my higher education and would not trade it for the world. But, it is disturbing that teens are feed these lies to take out predatory loans (that corporate fat cats profit from), and wind up jobless in the end – even though we did everything we were told to.
My life began to close in on me and I did not know where to turn. It wasn’t until out of the blue, an old friend Facebook messaged me and ask if I would be interested in a unique job opportunity. I emailed him my cover letter and resume, then quickly scheduled an interview. Turns out the job I was applying for was a front desk representative position for a medical marijuana dispensary in Portland. Not only was I given access to the ground floor of an industry, I was also told I could start writing and blogging. I helped craft our patient filing and organization systems from the ground up. I helped craft every single patient form in our office. I was given a platform to write, and soon I was published on news sources such as Ladybud Magazine, High Times, and The Weed Blog. Not only was this job a “once in a life time” type of opportunity, but it also provided me with an outlet for my activism as a woman in a male dominated industry. All while giving me all the real world experience I could muster.
I truly hate admitting this because I like to believe that the road of hard work and dedication ultimately is what determines your success. However, when you are a brand new post-college grad, getting your start is the most crucial step. In an economy like this, it seems nearly impossible to get a family wage job. Unless you can somehow manage an unpaid internship that most of us simply cannot afford to do – if you want to be a functioning adult with necessary bills. It is absolutely all about who you know in order to find an outlet for your talent. Because of the decriminalization in Oregon and House Bill 3460, I am now an employed adult who pays taxes and my bills on time. The job market is so incredibly depressing for twenty-somethings, and it isn’t fair. I have brilliant friends who can’t hack it in the real world and many of them resort back to retail or the service industry (or some job they are grossly overqualified for) in order to make ends meet.
The marijuana industry single-handedly restored my hope in the future. It makes no sense that federal prohibition should exist and prevent jobs like mine from existing. If it wasn’t for “legal” medicinal marijuana, my job would simply go back to the black market untaxed and violence is likely to ensue.
Granting people safe access to marijuana gives patients a secure place to pick up medicine – while providing jobs for people like me. A majority of American’s are in favor of legalization, partially due to the job market that could exist if federal prohibition ended. College students are graduating and faced with debt the cannot default on, yet cannot begin to pay back because of the lack of employment opportunities with livable wages that compensates their lives, and abilities to pay back debt.
Some people decide to choose not drink alcohol, but that does not impede on anyone else’s decision to partake. Just because a select few political stalwarts refuse to acknowledge the growing evidence in favor of legalization (ala Chris Christie), should not prevent the rest of us from tapping into a flourishing industry. There are so many young, brilliant millennial minds looking for outlets of success in order to start building our own lives – as well as the landscape and climate of the future. Marijuana can be the next pivotal tool in solving unemployment problems that plague the next generation.