cannabis labour market

In Figures: Cannabis Labour Market in the US Grows Dramatically along with the Number of Smokers

  • Since the use of medical cannabis was legalized in California in 1996, many US regions have decided to give the cannabis plant a go in one way or another.
  • Thanks to the growth experienced from 2009 as the regulatory processes began to multiply, today it is estimated that between 100,000 and 150,000 people are working in the cannabis industry in this country, a figure comparable to that of library workers or web developers. If in a few months recreational use is also legalized in California, the numbers may grow even further.
  • This news comes at a moment when the amount people who admit smoking marijuana increases every day, fuelled by regulatory processes: they are already 33 million people, a figure that could soon exceed that of tobacco smokers.
cannabis labour market

Every week there is news about the physical and social benefits of cannabis. But also about its positive economic impact in those places where the normalizing processes are more advanced. In the United States, where many states have legalized cannabis consumption in one way or another, there is a whole industry that has generated a very positive number of jobs.

The 'Marijuana Business Daily' estimates in its report 'Marijuana Business Factbook 2016' that between 100,000 and 150,000 people work in the industry of cannabis in America today. Such a large number is explained by the recent legalizations that have taken place in various states: 24 states plus Washington D.C. have already regulated the use of medical cannabis. As for recreational use, the populous state of California, which represents the sixth world economy, will vote its possible legalization in November. If so, it would join the states of Oregon, Alaska, Colorado and Washington along with the District of Columbia. The picture, therefore, cannot be more encouraging.

According to estimates, of all these jobs, between 42,000 and 62,000 are dedicated to developing products, services and technology associated with cannabis, while between 37,000 and 52,000 people work in clinics, warehouses and other related establishments. Between 15,000 and 27,000 are large-scale growers, a number between 5,500 and 8,000 make food products and only between 990 and 1300 are linked to research or testing in laboratories. They all work both in the medical cannabis industry and the recreational one.

To determine the number of jobs, the 'Marijuana Business Daily' studied the amount of legally registered companies related to cannabis and the average number of people employed by each one of them, whether with a temporary or fixed contract.

The fact that there are so many workers is also due to the number of new professions generated by the industry itself. From creator of food such as coffee or sweets to manufacturer of glass pipes, you can even choose to engage in the delivery service of products or become a strain critic, the dream job for many. The job variety is as large as the total of existing businesses and entrepreneurs in the area.

The numbers are surprising because these positions would have been created in only seven years, since 2009: the recent legalizations would have contributed to this job explosion, although the decriminalization of medical cannabis for certain diseases in California took place already back in 1996; Washington, Oregon and Alaska in 1998; Maine in 1999 and Colorado and Nevada in 2000.

According to the 'Marijuana Business Daily', the number of workers in the country in the marijuana industry is equivalent to that of librarians or web developers. And statistics can display further growth in the coming months if successful new regulatory processes take place. The states of Maryland (a few months ago announced that it would consider allowing cannabis while driving or in hotel rooms), Ohio (whose Senate sent to their governor a proposal to legalize medical cannabis) or Pennsylvania (whose second largest city, Pittsburgh, voted a few months ago against smokers imprisonment) are being targeted by the industry in its search to further expansion.

Still, the report 'Marijuana Business Daily' focuses mainly in California. It is the most populous state across the United States (39.14 million people), so the possible legalization of recreational use would result in millions of consumers needing an industry of their own to respond to their demands.

Moreover, in states where marijuana is legal, cannabis shops earn more money per square meter than some US supermarket chains. Thus, according to the '2016 Marijuana Business Factbook', the annual income per square meter in local retail (both recreational and medicinal) is 974 euros (862 euros), while at Whole Foods, a quite important supermarket chain of organic food in the country, it is $ 930 (823 euros), 5% less.

Outperforming tobacco

The number of marijuana consumers grow every day in the US and could even surpass tobacco in the country. Again, recent legalizations have helped remove the stamp of illegal substance off cannabis. Thus, in the last three years, its use has almost doubled in the nation: according to a survey recently published by Gallup, 7% of Americans admitted smoking marijuana in 2013; three years later, they already represent a 13%.

Thus, according to Gallup there would currently be 33 million cannabis consumers in the United States, compared with the 40 million people who, according to the country's Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoke tobacco. Given that tobacco consumption is falling (due to government campaigns and social rejection) it is very likely that marijuana may exceed it in the short term.

The new regulations would encourage more people to smoke or admit that they smoke, considering it as a legal activity. According to those responsible for the investigation, the good news move more people to make their tastes public, regardless of where they live. "The will of some states to legalize marijuana could be a reason for the rise in the percentage of Americans who admit smoking cannabis, regardless of whether it is legal in their particular state or not," said Justin McCarthy, an analyst at Gallup. McCarthy also explained that it is more likely that those living in the western part of the country, where the four states that have legalized recreational are, admit smoking marijuana.

These are great figures that confirm the momentum of cannabis in the United States. Considering this encouraging situation due the upcoming regulatory processes, who knows if many of the current unemployed or budding entrepreneurs will envisage a business opportunity in the industry. Legislation itself is encouraging them to do so by leaps and bounds.


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