The Humboldt Cannabis Economy: How Much Money Does a Marijuana Worker Typically Make?

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A trimmer manicures a bud in Humboldt County. [Photo by Kym Kemp]

“We all know there is a lot of money to be made growing cannabis, but for outsiders that’s usually the limit of their economic understanding. There is a lot of resentment, because people feel that the rule breakers and outlaws are getting rich easily while the rest of us work hard for much less,” observes an article in a relatively new online magazine, The Humboldt Underground, covering the local marijuana world. The article then figuratively asks is the resentment justified for the majority of cannabis workers?

The author takes a look at how much money a typical cannabis worker in the Emerald Counties makes. The author says he based his piece on “dozens of people working in the industry.” While this seems like a small sample, the numbers themselves make sense to this observer of the local marijuana economy.

The author basically says there are two types of owners—those who tackle all or most of the labor themselves or with their immediate family and those who have employees. The author then breaks down the range of salaries for these types employees.

For instance, according to the article, most laborers on marijuana farms “work for an hourly wage. For many years $20 an hour was the standard entry level wage although some claim to work for as little as $10-$15 an hour.”

The article then breaks down everything from clone makers to driving pounds for sale. Check out the the article here. Then let us know what you think of the numbers.

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28 comments

  • I heard a newly-transplanted trimmer in Mendocino say she’d be happy to get $150/pound. It would still be more than she made as a waitress in Maine and she enjoys it much more. When prices head to $1000/pound this harvest I believe trimmers should not be making 20% of the finished product’s value and they should ALL be happy with $150/pound. They had no investment, no risk, no major skill set and it’s time they stopped getting treated like princesses. The gravy days are over and thousands of new, eager trimmers are waiting to fill the shoes of the spoiled and arrogant who say they “need” $200/pound (to go on their expensive vacations and buy all the best swag, yeah).

    • Growers have to demand more than $1000/pound. I’d rather burn my pounds than sell them for that.

      A trimmer who does 2 pounds a day is either working 16 hours and or trimming big, full term buds that are not expected to be trimmed very tight. Ive managed tons of trim scenes over the last 10+ years.

      They (trimmers) are doing work that is illegal and bad for their health. They should not make less than $20/hour. With no mold problems, ok bud size and a tight trim expected, it should take 8-10 hours to trim a pound (that not counting any breaks) Few can do it faster without either shaving the nugs, failing to clean up the bottoms of the buds, skipping all the littles ect.

      Btw, most dont go on expensive vacations. They go to cheap places like Costa Rica or Belize. Paris is an expensive vacation.

      That being said, most trimmers arent worth shit and dont deserve a job at all. Completely banning alcohol on the scene can be extremely beneficial.

    • I second that motion. A whole industry is getting a wake-up call. It’s a race to the bottom. Save your sheckles.

  • Those who make 200/lb are good ,fast,don’t waste.thats why they make that much.its not cheap to grow pot.you just don’t put a seed or clone down and watch it grow.its expensive very.you gotta grow alot to make a little. Been there,done that.good read

  • Too many variables to nail it down. There are as many answers as there are people trimming.

  • Self reported figures arent exactly reliable. For example my dick is eight inches long.

  • I’d have to say the numbers are pretty exact, good article!
    I’d say the most resentment I see is the people too lazy to get involved, the farmers I work with usually break it down to the workers, the ones ok with it are there to work the others get a ride back into town and a peace out gesture, yes there are some shady scenes but we don’t know those type

  • veterans friend

    When I worked as a trimmer circa 1980, weed was going for $1500lb and I was paid $100lb. Of course gasoline was under a dollar a gallon. I don’t know what the answer is. For me, it is having my own small grow & doing all the work myself.

  • Lets not forget this is undeclared income.many of them claim benefits that if they had a real job they wouldnt qualify for.

    • The folks in my ‘hood go out of their way to declare their income…and there are plenty of ways to describe it: yard work, child care, horse boarding, miscellaneous repair, auto repair, house sitting, and general labor are just a few. That way, the government gets a bite, and social “security” thresholds are met, and none can call “Tax Cheat.” And in the event of a problem they can justify their possessions to the IRS if needed.
      And if folks need help with Medical, or free lunches for school kids, or whatever, it can be honestly obtained. Gotta think ahead. Gotta. af

      • Masseuse, carpenter, house cleaner are some of the common job descriptions used in our area.

      • Not true. My neighbors live like Millionaires, lengthy vacations several times a year , multiple expensive vehicles, shopping at expensive grocery stores , all the while picking up social services. medi cal , food stamps free child care , discount electricity etc. although neither parent appear to ever work . They spend their day going to the gym or yoga or coffee with their friends.

        • How do they have multiple expensive vehicles and get medi cal , food stamps and the like ? You have to declare liquidable assets when you apply for services.

          I call bullshit.

  • To veteran’s friend :back in the good old days!!exactly

  • I’d say it’s a very accurate article. Personally I prefer a steady paycheck but when I was younger it was an easy way to make money.

  • theres no such thing as an online magazine. it sounds nice, conjurs a touch of class but call it what it is, a blog. there are no books or newspapers online either, but countless books and periodicals have been digitally transcribed for digital reading via electricity.

    • I have to disagree about there being no such thing as an online magazine. More and more media content is online only. Eventually, I suspect the vast majority of media will only available on the web. The definition of a blog is that it is written in an informal style. The Humboldt Underground is not.

  • I had a friend who was a real estate agent back on the 80’s. His home office called and chewed him out for not selling more construction/contractor insurance. He thought that he was doing real good in that area and he asked them why they thought that he was doing so poorly. Their reply was that the Southern Humboldt area had more “carpenters” per capita than any other place in California.

  • Im jackin hippies this year

    People hear mariuana worker and they think of trimmers. The workers are the ones wearing boots and covered in dirt, who have tools and skills. The trimmers are the dreadlocked, spoiled, snotnosed, entitled, vegan, non-muscular, lazy, and usually foreign, pieces of rotten shit

    • Wow, you know a different crowd than I do. Trimmers are (mostly) a bunch of single local women who are independent, trustworthy, hard-working, cheerful and remarkably pretty.

  • Kym, you must have been a trimmer? 🙂

    Do employers send out 1099 forms at the end of the year? If you claim the income don’t you have to provide employer info? I’ve never been involved but it is interesting.

    • Almost always trimmers don’t say they are trimmers when they claim all or (most likely) part of the money on their taxes. They claim to have made the money doing everything from babysitting to tutoring to gardening to house cleaning, etc.

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