When Gene Ray was studying biology at Fisk University in Nashville, he started to use marijuana regularly. At the time, he wasn’t thinking that if combined, his scientific expertise and interest in cannabis could make a career.
While studying medicinal plant extracts in Hawaii later, it was the first time Ray, a pharmaceutical chemist, thought that his skills could apply to marijuana.
“I was like, oh! You could do this with weed,” Ray recalled from his office at Garden Remedies’ cultivation facility in Fitchburg, where he is the vice president of laboratory operations.
With the burgeoning marijuana industry comes new jobs. And most everyone taking these jobs is entering the industry for the first time. From the retail floor at adult-use shops to the science behind creating products or heading up a marijuana company’s human resources department, the field offers opportunities for people with a range of degrees and backgrounds.
After studying in Hawaii, Ray continued his research in South Korea and Thailand before teaching in China. A visit from a friend who was a Massachusetts native and working in the marijuana industry helped convince Ray to move to the state, where he landed in 2016, just a few months just before recreational cannabis was legalized. [Read more at Mass Live]