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Jobs In the Legal Cannabis Industry, A Blunt Assessment

Topics: Current Events
For more information on emerging industries like legal cannabis, read PayScale’s report, Jobs in Emerging Industries.
Marijuana Leaf
Pexels / Michael Fischer

In January of 2012, Colorado became the first U.S. state to permit the sale of recreational marijuana. In December of that same year, the state of Washington did the same.

Six years later, the sale of recreational cannabis is legal in eight states, and medicinal marijuana is legally sold in Vermont and The District of Columbia. Sales of legal cannabis in North America totaled roughly $10 billion in 2017, a 33 percent increase over 2016.

Furthermore, the legal cannabis industry is expected to create more than a quarter of a million jobs by 2020; That’s more than the expected jobs created by manufacturing, utilities or government jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Amazingly, this prediction might be underestimating the industry’s potential; These expectations are based on only the states where recreational cannabis is already legal. If cannabis were legalized nationwide, a recent report predicted that the industry could inject over a million jobs into the U.S. labor market by 2025.

If cannabis were legalized nationwide, a recent report predicted that the industry could inject over a million jobs into the U.S. labor market by 2025.Click To Tweet

Potential Buzzkills

But the future of legal cannabis is a little hazy. At a federal level, cannabis is listed as a Schedule I illegal drug in the United States – as are Heroin and cocaine – creating a conflict with the states where marijuana has been declared legal recreationally or for medical purposes.

During the Obama administration, the “Cole Memo” essentially directed federal prosecutors to adopt a “policy of non-interference with marijuana-friendly state laws.” But recent overtures by Donald Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions — including rescinding the Cole Memo — have some in the industry worried that a federal crackdown may be imminent.

In line with this, some potential job seekers are nervous about the stigma associated with cannabis — that it’s an industry full of stoners, or that future potential employers might share the opinion voiced by Sessions that, “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.” — and whether working in the industry could derail future job prospects.

Where the Grass Is Greener

According to Rolling Stone, “…some governors say there’s starting to be an air of certainty that eventually marijuana will be viewed as the same as alcohol in most every state.”

PayScale research indicates that those in the cannabis industry may agree with this rosy outlook, as 68 percent of cannabis workers believe their employers have a bright future. Interestingly, only 59 percent of American workers in general feel the same way.

PayScale research shows that 68 percent of cannabis workers believe their employers have a bright future. Interestingly, only 59 percent of American workers in general feel the same way.Click To Tweet

Legal cannabis is an example of an emerging industry, or an industry that has exploded in size due to recent changes in technology, changes in law, or both. Other emerging industries reshaping the economy include renewable energy, and virtual and augmented reality.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

If you’re interested in learning more about what impact these emerging industries are having on the economy, or if you’re interested in seeking a job in one, read PayScale’s report, Jobs in Emerging Industries: The Growth of New Industries, and the Job Creation That Comes With Them.

Would you consider a job in the legal cannabis industry? What concerns might you have? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.


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