Did you know that currently about 62% of the American population lives in states where some form of marijuana is currently legal? Whether for medical or recreational use, many states have recently legalized marijuana to serious financial success. With more and more states following the trend of legalizing marijuana, it's clear that this is a growing industry.
In short? Marijuana is a big business. In 2016, the legal cannabis market had an estimated worth of $7.2 billion. That market is expected to grow by 17% annually. Medical marijuana sales in 2016 were at $4.7 billion. Adult recreational sales in 2016 made up an additional $2.6 billion. Following the estimated growth rate, by 2020 medical marijuana sales could reach $13.3 billion and adult recreational sales could reach $11.2 billion.
If Colorado's marijuana sales numbers provide evidence of the future, then the marijuana industry is going to be huge. When recreational marijuana sales began in January of 2014, Colorado sales topped $700 million during that first year alone. In just the month of January, 2015, the Colorado Department of Revenue reported that approximately $36.4 million of recreational marijuana was sold. Remember, those millions of dollars of sales took place over just 31 days!
The good news? Not only is marijuana providing the economy with a serious boost, but it's also creating jobs, too. With the ever-increasing growth of the marijuana industry comes additional demand for product. That means we need people to grow, harvest, process, and sell marijuana. And that means jobs.
According to a report newly released by New Frontier Data, the legal cannabis market will create more than 250,000 new jobs by 2020. When you compare that with information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you may be surprised to learn that the cannabis market is predicted to create more jobs than manufacturing, utilities, and even government positions. In fact, manufacturing jobs are expected to decline by 814,000 by 2024. Similarly, utility jobs will decline by 47,000 and government jobs will decline by 383,000.
But, wait, the news gets better. New Frontier Data's projected job growth for the cannabis industry is based only on the states which have currently legalized marijuana in some form. At the moment, 25 states have some form of legalized medical marijuana, and seven states have legalized marijuana laws. If additional states legalize marijuana, the industry could experience even greater job growth.
According to Giadha Aguirre De Carcer, Founder and CEO of New Frontier Data, the cannabis industry has the potential to be a huge economic force in the United States. “While we see a potential drop in total number of U.S. jobs created in 2017, as reported by Kiplinger, as well as an overall expected drop in GDP growth, the cannabis industry continues to be a positive contributing factor to growth at a time of potential decline. We expect the cannabis industry’s growth to be slowed down to some degree in the next three to five years, however with projected total market sales to exceed $24 billion by 2025, and the possibility of almost 300,000 jobs by 2020, it remains a positive economic force in the U.S.”
The cannabis industry already employs hundreds of thousands of people. A Marijuana Business Daily survey revealed that there are between 100,000 and 150,000 workers employed by the industry. Approximately 90,000 of those workers are in plant-touching companies. Other positions include workers in dispensaries and testing facilities.
But let's put things in perspective. The cannabis industry employs huge numbers of people, but it's difficult to visualize. The number of people employed in the cannabis industry approximately equal the number of flight attendants in the United States, or the number of web developers, database administrators, and librarians. The industry is a serious factor in our employment force.
While some of the positions associated with the cannabis industry are fairly obvious — think growing or harvesting marijuana — there are all sorts of ways to find gainful employment. The industry needs glassware merchants, bakers to create edible marijuana goods, seed harvesters, bud tenders, and even security officers for dispensaries. When you think about it, you can see that the industry has the potential to generate all sorts of different jobs.
Job training for the cannabis industry is even available, albeit on a limited basis. Oaksterdam University in California provides such training. According to Dale Sky Jones, Executive Chancellor of Oaksterdam, while the job market is growing, many people who want to get involved with the industry are worried about being prosecuted by the DEA. However, "a U.S. appeals court recently decidedunanimously that the federal government may not prosecute people who grow and distribute medical marijuana if they comply with state laws. While this ruling currently affects states within the 9th Circuit, the decision will influence other circuits across the country. This is huge, as it is very likely that more people will now feel safer about entering the cannabis industry."
Will marijuana continue on with its incredible growth trend? Only time will truly tell. However, should the industry continue to grow, it could provide much-needed jobs and even alternative job environments for people looking for something a little different than your typical 9-to-5.