Although the federal government doesn’t keep track of jobs created in the legal cannabis industry, a new report from Leafly estimates that there have been 211,000 jobs created directly from legal marijuana – meaning ancillary jobs that are created in industries adjacent to cannabis were not included in the tally. With 64,000+ jobs created in the industry in 2018 alone, legal marijuana is one of the fastest job creators in the U.S.
To put this in better perspective, we have to realize that the vast majority of people in the U.S. still live nowhere near a legal cannabis business. Heavily-populated states like New York, Texas and Florida have virtually no storefronts related to cannabis and no adult-use industry at all. In fact, most of the southern and mid-western U.S. has a non-existent adult-use industry and a medical industry that is extremely limited.
So what happens when that is no longer the case? What will the industry look like when there are thousands of retailers in Texas and Florida and Illinois and New York and Pennsylvania? What will the job numbers look like when the industry is as big as the fast food industry?
To be sure, some may dispute just how big the industry can get, but with 20-30 million regular cannabis users in the U.S., the potential is astounding. It’s not an exaggeration to say millions of jobs will be created by legal cannabis – making job creation one of the most impactful effects of marijuana legalization.
Others will highlight things like tax revenue and social justice, but there are few things more important to individuals than having an income. And as the economic activity generated by the legal marijuana industry ripples out into other industries, even more jobs will be created by entrepreneurs looking to compete in new ways.
But for any of this to happen, the legal industry needs to be unleashed. If regulations and taxes keep the legal industry from competing effectively with the black market, the industry will remain forever stunted and unable to reach its full potential. And it would truly be a shame to waste all the possibilities a fully-functioning legal marijuana industry can lead to.
I’ve been on record multiple times saying that the government will screw up legalization. I know it seems cynical, but I think it’s a justified opinion nonetheless. I hope I’m wrong and legal marijuana restrictions will be as little as possible, but from what we are seeing so far, I fear my hopes won’t be realized.
And even with all the regulations and restrictions and taxes weighing down the legal industry so far, we have still seen explosive growth. If that doesn’t make you see the potential for an unleashed industry, I don’t know what will.