Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of Rolling Stone editors or publishers.
A few months ago, I became 65 — I, who still thinks and acts like a person in their 20s, am now a senior citizen. All of a sudden, I became eligible for some of the benefits hitting that landmark birthday: medicare, discounts for things like mass transit, rent, the gym, medical cannabis, movie tickets and many others that I never thought of.
As I continue to adapt to my new status, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what 65-plus will look like and how it will affect me and my work ethic. I also realized that I’m not alone out there; many of my peers and friends are not our parents at 65 when they were old. We still have a lot to contribute and believe it or not, there are some industries, like cannabis, that welcome our experience and understand the value we bring to the table and being the “adult” in the room. With that in mind, I wanted to give some suggestions to those who feel as I do and are looking to engage in this exciting industry as we enter the last chapters of our careers.
1. Get Educated
You’d be surprised at the number of legitimate colleges and universities offering courses and minors in cannabis. For instance, in New Jersey, where I live, state universities such as Rutgers, Rowan University and Stockton University currently have courses. In New York City, LIM College offers the first Bachelor of Business Administration degree in the Business of Cannabis. (Full disclosure: Bridge Strategic Communications represents LIM College.) There are also online-based courses and certificates. Many courses offer virtual classes so if you’re switching careers, you can earn a degree on your own time. There are also a variety of certificate programs that are out there, but, as the business explodes, the demand for professionally educated and degree-qualified candidates will do the same. Being a life-long learner can open doors — especially in the burgeoning legal cannabis industry.
The good news is that live events are slowly coming back. After two years of Zooming, we are starting to meet new people and reconnect with old friends. If you live in a state that has legalized medical and/or adult use, which at this point is 18 states, there’s a very good chance that there are trade shows and events. What continues to surprise me is the number of people there who are seniors. Some are looking to invest their retirement money, some are “canna-curious,” some want to transfer their skill set to this space and some are longtime consumers who want to meet similarly minded people. Once you’re a part of this incredible community, you’ll appreciate the spirit of those in it.
3. Stay Current
There are so many fast-moving parts in this space that, regardless of your point of entry, you need to keep up to date on what’s happening in your state and nationally. One way to do that is to subscribe to the many websites that publish features and news that’s relevant. Some sites like Marijuana Moment, MJ News Network, Celebstoner, Benzinga, Green Market Report, NJ Cannabis Insider and Marketwatch will give you a good oversight on developments that are of interest to you. (And, of course, Rolling Stone.)
4. Find Better Ways to Spend Your Time
I’ve been very lucky throughout my career to have worked in industries and brands that I love: film, publishing and television. One of the keys to my success was my authenticity with the media I was working with. When pitching stories about a film I loved, my passion came through to my colleagues. When I pitched stories about Rolling Stone when I worked in their PR department, my enthusiasm and sheer joy at working for a magazine I grew up with came through internally and externally. Now, in cannabis, I am taking these experiences and working to change people’s minds and influence public opinion through education and media. I work on projects that advocate for the overall goal of showcasing what today’s cannabis consumer looks like as opposed to the old stereotypes of the Cheech and Chong era and the role it will play in the hospitality world.
To my peers, if you’ve loved your career in the real world, from industry associations, mentoring younger staff, or any challenge that you attacked with passion, you’ll find a home in the cannabis industry. We need professional services like attorneys, accountants and PR pros, but at the same time, we need trades like electricians, plumbers, construction pros as well as and especially HR. Your experience, regardless of what industry you were in, is welcomed and appreciated.
While a lot of my peers in this age group choose to play golf, I wake (and bake) each day with a kind of energy and optimism that keeps me young at heart and mind. The legal cannabis industry holds great potential for those looking to follow their passions. If that sounds good to you, get involved and, remember, you could be spending your energy and time a lot less enjoyably. After all, 65 is the new 40.