Over the last several years, there has been an avalanche of data that shows the degree of success the legal cannabis industry has achieved thus far. But perhaps none show the advancement of the industry more than job numbers.
Since the industry is new and legality is still fluid in many states, exact numbers are harder to come by. But according to a new estimate by Marijuana Business Daily, the number of people working in the legal marijuana industry – “retailers, wholesale grows, infused products/concentrates companies, testing labs and ancillary firms” – is anywhere between 165,000 and 230,000.
To put these numbers in perspective, this puts the legal marijuana industry somewhere between the massage therapy industry (169,000 jobs) and the telemarketer industry (238,000 jobs). About 201,000 people are employed as dental hygienists.
And this is an industry that is still severely restricted in dozens of states. An industry that hasn’t even started when it comes to adult use in California. The largest growth so far for legal marijuana is in states that rank somewhere in the middle when it comes to total population; the biggest states in the union (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Pennsylvania, Illinois) have yet to really weigh in on the job number cited above.
It’s doesn’t require one to stretch their imagination too far to see that number will likely exceed 1 million or more in the coming decades. As small businesses make way for larger firms at the top of the industry and legal supply is increased to meet demand, many more job opportunities will open up for those who want to be involved with legal cannabis.
Of course, things could always derail, either with the stalling of the momentum of the marijuana law reform movement or a much more likely scenario: excessive regulations and taxes placed on legal cannabis will allow the black market to continue to thrive. Too many restrictions and too big of a focus on “raising revenue” could cripple the industry, never letting it reach its full potential.
Marijuana legalization presents the very rare opportunity to bring a proven commodity with a loyal consumer base out of the shadows and into the light. We don’t need focus groups or market research to tell us that people like to purchase and consume cannabis. They are ready, money in hand; they just need a legal place to buy it.