Weed might make you hungry, but that doesn’t mean there will be people around to feed you.
As more states are legalizing recreational marijuana, the ones that do are finding a shortage of workers for restaurant jobs.
According to Bloomberg, the rise in high-paying jobs in the pot industry has caused people who might otherwise work in restaurants to shift over the the world of legal weed. As the article posits: Why keep your stressful restaurant job when you can leave to make $22 per hour at a pot dispensary or a greenhouse?
Cities throughout the country are seeing a shortage in restaurant workers, notably cooks. But it’s become particularly trendy in Denver, the biggest city in Colorado, which was the first state to legalize the use of recreational marijuana.
— Jay Pfeifer (@Jay_Pfeifer) January 6, 2017
Now, young workers who once saw employment opportunities in the restaurant business are flocking to grow facilities and dispensaries. Bryan Dayton, who co-owns three popular dining destinations in the Denver/Boulder area—Oak at Fourteenth, Acorn, and Brider—feels it acutely.
“Our work force is being drained by the pot industry,” he said bluntly. “There’s a very small work pool as it is. Enter the weed business, which pays $22 an hour with full benefits. You can come work in a kitchen for us for eight hours a day, in a hot kitchen. It’s a stressful life. Or you can go sort weed in a climate-controlled greenhouse. It’s a pretty obvious choice.” Dayton is especially sensitive to these realities as he prepares to recruit talent for a restaurant, a Spanish-inspired steakhouse with a rooftop bar, slated to open in the fall.
Dayton described the situation to Bloomberg as “Defcon 5.”
Not only do people leave restaurants for greenhouses, they also leave for pot dispensaries that double as restaurants, with pastries and other goodies that are baked with weed.
Restaurants nationwide have been struggling with hiring cooks and wait staff even before legal marijuana became more widespread. As it expands, restaurants could have to start paying more for their labor in order to lure them away from the luxuries of pot.