Wanted: Dead Heads and Pot Heads

By chillinwill · Nov 17, 2009 ·
  1. chillinwill
    Dead heads and pot heads take note. While the straight economy goes up in smoke with double digit unemployment, job prospects for hippies are booming -- and not just for boomers.
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    At the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) they're looking to hire an official Grateful Dead archivist.

    And in Denver, where Colorado's medical marijuana industry is legally flourishing, there are these two recent job postings:

    The alternative newspaper Westword is advertising for a pot reviewer, asking for a short essay from applicants on "What Marijuana Means to Me".

    Similarly, a new biotech company, Full Spectrum Laboratories, needs scientists to test the potency of cannabis samples and salesmen to market their quality-control tools.

    They don't call it the Mile High City for nothing.

    Those doing the hiring say -- not surprisingly -- they are being inundated with applications.

    UCSC has so far received more than 100 applications for an archivist to organize a collection for an interactive reading room at the McHenry Library, tentatively named Dead Central, which will feature non- stop Grateful Dead (or related) music and rotating exhibitions.

    "We're not looking for any old hippies, just qualified archivists," said Christine Bunting, head of special collections at the McHenry Library. "Of course you have to have an interest in popular culture, the American vernacular and music."

    "We're not just looking for Dead Heads, but someone who can organize a collection," she told ABCNews.com.

    The Grateful Dead, whose songs celebrated personal freedom and mind-altering drugs, emerged in the San Francisco ballroom scene of the 1960s and broke up, sort of, after Jerry Garcia's death in 1995.

    The remaining band members recently donated their entire collection to UCSC: press clippings, photographs, tickets, backstage passes, promotional materials, business records, posters, T-shirts and other Dead merchandise.

    Grateful Dead Archivist Wanted

    The successful applicant will be "creative and service oriented" and have a master's degree in library science -- and can additionally handle all the band's posters, vinyl albums, CDs, videos, cassette tapes of hot line messages announcing tour dates, thousands of decorated envelopes mailed to the band's ticket office, even guest lists from all their shows.

    Bunting admits the job, working with both scholars and fans, is "pretty dreamy and unusual."

    The less academic candidate might be interested in the job of pot dispensary reviewer currently posted by Denver's Westward newspaper on its blog.

    "The job is simple," it states. "Visit a different dispensary each week (without revealing you're working for Westword) and pen concise, impartial and snappy accounts of your experiences.

    "Keep in mind this isn't about assessing the quality of the medicine on site; it's about evaluating the quality of the establishment. After all, we can't have our reviewer be stoned all the time."

    Users are required to hold a state-issued Medical Marijuana Registry identification card, asserting that they require the drug to alleviate a medical problem.

    Within five minutes of the posting, Westword was flooded with replies, and now has nearly 1,000.

    "This has swamped us," said Westword editor Patricia Calhoun, who will likely meet with the finalist this week. "I had to come in and spend eight hours clearing out my e-mails,"

    Their applicants come from "all over the map, young and old," according to Calhoun. One was a 71-year-old with a doctorate from Harvard University.

    Calhoun found the alternative newspaper in 1977, "back when people were thinking something else, when they were singing 'Rocky Mountain High,'" she told ABCNews.com.

    Until now, a news reporter has been covering the industry under the pseudonym Mae Coleman, after a character in the 1936 drug-scare film "Reefer Madness."

    But according to Calhoun, "He doesn't even like pot."

    The latest hire will write the new column, "Mile Highs and Lows."

    Pot ReviewerTo Log 'Highs and Lows'

    "You want to see a great writer with opinions and who is entertaining," she said. "Pot dispensaries are like restaurants, and you are talking about atmosphere, history or owners, not just the pot."

    "Some are like head shops, some are like spas and some are like coffee shops and some are just down and dirty and skanky," said Calhoun. "That's what the reviewers will tell us."

    But for those who are more technically minded and who may have lost jobs on Wall Street, look no further.

    Full Spectrum Laboratories founder Bob Winnicki -- a former medical student and researcher -- is looking for a few good men (and women) to be marijuana testers.

    The 35-year-old "gangaprenuer" aims to introduce quality control to the burgeoning cannabis industry, which is thriving in 14 states nationwide.

    His start-up company tests samples of medical-marijuana products and quantifies their potency, helping doctors and patients determine correct dosages of the drug.

    Winnicki dropped out of his third year of medical school at the University of Colorado after being approached by his "stoner" friends.

    "'Hey, man, could you like come up with a way to test cannabinoids in plants?'" Winnicki says they asked him.

    "I hit the literature," said Winnicki, who had previously run two technology companies. "I missed doing research and thought, yeah, that could be done. But we had to do it right -- not with Home Depot level equipment."

    "It was the easiest money I ever raised," he said. "A lot of wealthy people in the industry see value in it."

    When Winnicki was studying to be a doctor, people at parties thought he was "pretty cool," but now that he runs a marijuana company, "I am one of the most interesting people in the room."

    He is banking on marijuana being legalized outright in the next five years and predicts he can "handle the whole industry."

    Today he is looking for scientists and a sales team, but if business booms, there will be more openings.

    His first hire was Betty Aldworth, a 33-year-old director of outreach and development.

    First Hire: Queen of Awesomeness

    Alternately known as Queen Betty and Queen of Awesomeness, she always gets a reaction when she tells people about her line of work.

    "It's hysterically funny," she told ABCNews.com. "A lot of my friends are users or know someone who can benefit from medical marijuana. There's a lot of, 'Whoa, really?' Folks are completely blown away."

    Still, Aldworth sees her job as a medical pioneer. Her father has been disabled with a lifelong spinal condition and her grandmother suffers from osteoporosis.

    "He's in extraordinary pain and on a lot of narcotics that are causing side effects, making him even more ill," she said. "My grandmother is 80 and she's not going to pick up a joint."

    "We are creating an opportunity for people who have never considered it to open them up to the option," she said.

    Though Winnicki knows some people would "kill for these jobs," he's not looking for pot heads, per se.

    All employees will be randomly drug tested. "They are going to say, 'bummer' and cry when the marijuana looks so pretty and it's all chopped up in the machine," he said. "There will be some tears, but that's an unfortunate requirement."

    "They're going to have to keep their heads clean."

    November 16, 2009
    ABC News

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