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Veterans finding job success in Las Vegas cannabis industry

Posted at 9:42 AM, Jan 31, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-31 12:42:27-05

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — In the time it's been legal in Nevada, marijuana has already brought in nearly $70 million in revenue in first year to the state. As the industry grows, it's bringing jobs with it.

Now, many of those jobs are coming from an unlikely source -- veterans. With veterans facing a 3.2 percent unemployment rate, the cannabis industry is helping to close the gap.

At REEF dispensary just off the Strip, their security team from Tryke Security is made up of 90 percent veterans. One of those is Guy Joslin. A Navy veteran and ex-narcotics officer himself, he's the first to admit he never expected to be working in a dispensary. "I'd never thought we'd even see it legal to be honest" he says.

But for Joslin, it started as an opportunity to train dogs to work in the dispensaries, by teaching them the difference between normal lingering odor of marijuana and more concentrated odors if a customer or employee is trying to hide and steal the product.

Joslin says dispensaries, which still run on cash and house large amount of valuable product require extra security, and that's where veterans are a huge asset. "Training for the current risk is somewhere between military training and law enforcement training," he says.

And it's not just security jobs. Veterans have also excelled at jobs in cultivation, management, and behind the counter sales.

Arnold Stalk with Veterans Village, a downtown non-profit which helps veterans find work and housing, says dispensaries have also become great community partners, donating some of their profits to veteran-focused charities around the valley. "It's good for business to be involved with veterans," Stalk says.

But with marijuana still illegal at the federal level, it can still be tricky waters to navigate, especially for those coming from a previous career as regimented as the military. "There are still some guys that are like I don't want that on resume," Joslin says.

It's an attitude those like Martin Gomez from NORML, also an ex-Marine want to change. "It's not the stigma which we believe it is."

Gomez says despite the V.A. not officially recommending cannabis, many have done their own research and have used cannabis to help with issues like PTSD.

And dispenaries all around Las Vegas, including REEF and NUWU, and others, offer discounts in-store on marijuana anyone with a veteran ID.

As for Joslin, he says he sees even more veterans working in the industry and more and more states legalize marijuana. "We hear it everyday how much they appreciate us, and I believe it," he says.