If you’ve set your sights on a career in the legal marijuana industry, many rewarding cannabis jobs are available with a wide range of companies. Being a cannabis trimmer falls within the cultivation sector of the industry, which also includes general cultivation, cloning, and harvesting—as well as research and development (R&D) for some of the larger companies. All cannabis companies have a need for trimmers, regardless of the trimming method they employ.
Simply stated, trimming is a required part of preparing flower for sale or use for extraction after harvest but prior to final curing and packaging (which often includes weighing), which are two other cannabis jobs in themselves. Trimming requires a specialized skill, and some people have a knack for it more than others.
What Goes Into Being A Cannabis Trimmer?
Just like certain methods of cannabis extraction, the job combines a bit of standard procedure with a certain level of artistry. The flowers produced by an efficient and skilled cannabis trimmer are far superior to those produced by an average or sloppy trimmer, and most people can tell the difference at a glance.
Because trimming requires an acquired skill, many trim positions pay a bit more than other cannabis jobs like budtending or entry-level cultivation.
Three Common Methods For Trimming Cannabis
We’ll break the trimming process down to three specific methods employed in today’s industry: machine trimming, wet trimming, and dry trimming. Each has its devotees and a good argument can be made for the overall merits of each.
Machine trimming is an emerging market, where machines essentially do most of the hard work.
These trimming machines carry lofty price tags and are a significant investment for those companies that use them, which most often includes companies that process and sell a large amount of flower, either for concentrate refinement or retail sales of cured bud.
The amount of flower that a machine can trim is impressive and surpasses what even a crew of manual trimmers can accomplish. For the most part, the trims that result from these machines are quite satisfactory. There are no excess leaves, and the look to the trimmed flower is quite consistent—this is both the strength and the weakness of machine trimmed flower.
Due to the assembly-line, hands-off nature of machine trimming, all flower tends to look the same. Examining a batch of recently processed flower that all look like tiny Christmas trees leave something to be desired among true cannabis connoisseurs, who often appreciate a good hand-cure, where individual buds are painstakingly examined and trimmed, giving the individual flowers their own unique shapes and appearance.
Companies that employ machine trimming will have much smaller trimming teams because the amount of work involved is a fraction of what hand trimming entails.
Wet Hand Trimming
Wet hand trimming is exactly what it sounds like: manually trimming recently harvested flower before any curing (drying) occurs. This method of trimming is the most traditional—and many people consider it to still be the best. There should be minimal delays between the time of harvest and when hand-trimming occurs.
Hand trimmers employ a hand-trimming tool that ideally captures the best qualities of scissors and branch cutters. The blades should be narrow enough to reach strategically within the inner reaches of the flowers, with a good spring action to make frequent clips in rapid succession possible.
Removing all large leaves is the first objective—and this is generally the easiest part of the trimming job. After removing all of the intact, large leaves, the work gets more labor-intensive, with each flower requiring close scrutiny to painstakingly remove all excess leaves, taking all of the leaf at its stem if possible, or at the very least trimming them so they are reduced in size and in no way covering the frosty, trichome-covered calyxes of the bud, which is where most of the concentrated THC and CBD (the two main cannabinoids in hemp and marijuana) are found.
Because cannabis trimmers are judged by the amount of flower they can manually remove in the shortest amount of time, a keen eye, quick hands, attention to detail, and efficient time management are key factors in this line of work.
Some companies prefer their trimmers to sit while working, but others allow standing if it leads to more expedient and productive performance.
Dry trimming is very similar to wet trimming. The difference is that the buds have reached a certain degree of dryness before the trimming is done. The amount of dryness to the flower can vary between different operations, but the objective is still the same—to remove excessive leaves.
Because the leaves tend to be the first part of the flower to dry, the process of dry trimming usually results in the excess leaf matter flaking away from the buds, falling off without much effort rather than requiring deliberate trimming of each individual leaf.
A certain level of trimming is still necessary, but the process is not as labor intensive as wet trimming and often quicker. Opinions vary about the quality of the finished and fully cured flower when comparing wet to dry trimming. Some people believe wet trims result in a superior product, while others consider any perceived difference to be minor and inconsequential—if there is a difference at all.
As the connoisseur segment of the market grows, hand trimming will produce the most desirable product for this small-but-growing segment of customers.
What To Do With Sweet Leaf
All trimming methods have the same objective of properly preparing bud for consumption. All trimming methods also result in the production of another valuable commodity that comes from the plant: sweet leaf (aka sugar leaf).
Sweet leaf is aptly named—it’s the trimmed leaf matter that comes directly from the flower, and it usually has a sticky, sweet coating of potent trichomes. Sweet leaf is a valuable raw material used for the production of a wide variety of cannabis concentrates like hash, hash oil, wax, shatter, and crumble.
Concentrates (both THC and CBD) provide a quick and potent cannabis experience, usually through the use of oil vaporizer pens and dab rigs. Concentrates are extremely popular in today’s cannabis industry, and this market is growing.
For some people, concentrates are the preferred method of consuming cannabis, and for many of them, it’s the only method.
Trimming Cannabis Is A Great Way Into The Industry
Among the various cannabis jobs commonly required in today’s industry, trimming can be an attractive position—especially for those who want a hands-on job with the plant—and trimming is about as hands-on as it gets.
Many trim rooms consist of a tight-knit group of people who enjoy friendly comradery and, hopefully, the same taste in music, as trimmers often work with speakers blasting.
Excellent cannabis trimmers are in demand among cannabis companies, so if you’re a detail-oriented person who doesn’t mind repetitive work and the occasional hand cramp, trimming might be the perfect cannabis job for you.
The work is consistent and rewarding, and there’s a steady demand for those who can do it well. Learn more about it, hone your skills, and you may just find it’s your perfect dream job!