Are you looking for a job or hoping to start a new career? If you’re ready to join one of the fastest-growing industries in the country—whose success has already been likened to the explosive growth of the dot-com boom in the 1990s—consider seeking employment in the cannabis industry. With eight legal-marijuana states, and more than half of the states in the country allowing for some kind of medical cannabis use, there are tons of jobs being created in an industry transitioning out of the black market. And the money being made is considerable: According to New Frontier, a leading cannabis analytics and research firm, the legal-marijuana industry, which was worth an estimated $6.5 billion in 2016, will be worth $24 billion by 2025; the medical market alone is estimated to reach $13.2 billion by that time.
Since the road to legalization follows no single path or model, determining the number of jobs created as a way to show growth can be difficult. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t even recognize jobs created by the cannabis industry due to pot’s continued illegality on the federal level. However, thanks to reporting from the Marijuana Policy Group (MPG), an analysis of Colorado’s cannabis industry showed that legalization brought 18,000 new jobs to the state—13,000 of those full-time positions. Of these newly created jobs, retail accounted for more than 35 percent. However, administrative (22 percent) and agricultural (12 percent) also made up a significant portion of those jobs.
Using MPG’s model of growth in Colorado, New Frontier estimates that recreational and medical cannabis programs could easily create 280,000 jobs nationwide by 2020. Additionally, if more states come on board with medical or adult-use cannabis legislation and industrialized hemp takes off, then these numbers could well be significantly higher.
2020 Cannabis Industry Potential Job Creation
Where other industries are failing, cannabis is thriving, and workers from other fields are increasingly seeking marijuana-related jobs. Employment in agriculture, manufacturing and utilities are all down, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a result, many skilled workers can be found transferring their experience and putting it to good use in the cannabis industry. Agricultural experience is highly valued, and the ability to grow cannabis is always a plus. Cultivation is actually a great entry point for individuals who are eager to be hands-on and learn on the job. Such workers are very valuable to large-scale cannabis growers, who typically ramp up their staffing during the planting and harvest seasons. Come harvest time, you’ll be cashing in on lots of green.
According to data from Leafly.com, thanks to legalization, 123,000 full-time positions have been created in the United States thus far. California, which was already the largest cannabis producer in the country, created an estimated 43,374 full-time jobs.
Ideally, the national press would blast headlines like “Legalization Spurs Job Growth” or “Unemployment Numbers Down Thanks to Cannabis,” if only to annoy our 45th president and his drug-warrior-stacked administration, whose attitude toward marijuana differs greatly from that of the public at large, where the majority support legalization. But peering into our cannabis crystal ball, the future looks bright nonetheless, with four new adult-use states and six newly approved medical programs being voted into existence in 2016 alone. It certainly appears that the industry is far too entrenched for the clock to turn back. States that have implemented recreational sales have seen the incredible value of legal cannabis through the flood of tax revenue created. That money has been a boon to previously underfunded infrastructure and education programs, and it’s hard to imagine state governments wanting to part with all that much-needed cash.
What can we expect as we move into 2018? Job seekers should check out the employment scene in states that are expanding their medical programs, like Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as states like California—the most populous in the nation—where recreational sales will begin in 2018. Potential ganjapreneurs should take note of recent New Frontier data, which shows the most growth in delivery services and in the demand for flowers (74 percent), edibles (44 percent) and concentrates (25 percent). Following market research can help you prepare for and take advantage of the latest trends. Fortunately, the cannabis-data industry is growing quickly as well, providing aspiring cannabusiness-people with the tools they need to stay on top of market movements.
2016 Product Category Market Share
Ganjapreneurs: In Their Own Words
David Bernstein, CEO of WeedHire.com, weighs in on the current state of the job market, which businesses are hiring and the best states to set your sights on.
What we’ve seen with jobs in the cannabis industry is an evolution—you could even say maturity. Businesses that were start-ups two years ago and faced with so many obstacles have begun to staff as developed businesses, and this seems to mirror the industry growth as a whole.
We are definitely seeing more jobs tied to management, operations and regulatory compliance. Now more than ever, there are opportunities for experienced management personnel from other industries to work in cannabis. Because these experienced businesses can now rely on consistent revenue, it means qualified individuals can even make an income comparable to what they previously made in other industries.
Job functions like project management, environmental compliance and supply-chain logistics are all areas that have become more prevalent than ever before in the legal cannabis industry.
There are still many jobs tied to sales and manufacturing, such as budtenders, growers and trimmers, but as states like Colorado, Washington and even California fine-tune their regulations, businesses are tasked with staffing up to ensure that they can meet these ever-changing regulations. Because of this, we are also seeing an uptick in hiring for accounting and legal to ensure regulatory compliance.
In the new recreational states like Nevada, the growth in jobs overall has increased and will continue to grow and expand as sales begin as early as July 1. Hopefully, more clarity will come from the new administration on the federal government’s overall position, but until then, the industry will continue to work toward maturity and stability.
Scott Giannotti, managing director of the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition and founder of New York’s Cannabis and Hemp Association, breaks down the growing field of hemp and where and how to get involved.
The hemp industry is exploding, and by 2020 analysts are projecting a surge of $2 billion to $3 billion a year from the $600 million market in 2017. The fast-growing segment of the market—CBD hemp oil, currently estimated at $125 million to $150 million per year—is expected to triple in size, swelling to a robust $450 million to $500 million by 2020.
Job seekers can expect to find work in the hemp market in the following areas: extracting for CBD hemp oil, business development (sales), marketing and farming. What makes hemp farming different from cannabis farming is that growing hemp is truly agriculture, using farming technology and methods, whereas growing marijuana is akin to horticulture.
For people looking to get their foot in the door, a great thing would be to find out who is growing hemp in your state and ask to volunteer on the farm with planting and harvesting. Another possibility is becoming a sales rep for a CBD company: Find out if anyone in your state is manufacturing CBD hemp-oil products and look for a job in packing, shipping or sales. Because hemp is still just a $600-million-a-year industry, jobs are hard to find—but they are coming, so the best thing to do right now is to get educated on the hemp industry and find out which segments interest you most.
Chloe Villano is CEO, founder and president of Colorado’s Clover Leaf University, the first and only state-accredited cannabis training school. From medical professionals to marijuana-industry workers, there’s something for everyone to learn at Clover Leaf.
There’s no doubt that marijuana is the fastest-growing industry in America today. To date, 26 states have legalized medical marijuana for qualified patients, and eight states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use, including California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, which passed measures legalizing marijuana in the November 2016 elections.
There is no limit to the possibilities this provides for the new legal marijuana industry—and getting in on the ground floor creates an opportunity unlike any other. The industry will create tens of thousands of jobs in every legal state. There is also a huge opportunity for people to open new businesses in this sector.
My school, Clover Leaf University, is the cannabis industry’s leading multi-spectrum educational institution, with a fundamental commitment to setting the bar high for ethics, best practices, corporate business standards and technological innovation. We offer a state-of-the-art, multi-level educational platform for training government officials, local municipalities, investors, entrepreneurs, business owners, medical professionals, legal professionals, managers, in-house employees, and occupational professionals in all matters related to the emerging cannabis market.
Our curriculum integrates all industry positions, from budtenders to cultivators. CLU has launched various research-and-development projects concerning cannabis, and we strive to raise awareness about its potential to benefit society through patient and consumer education, and by creating a knowledgeable industry and workforce.
We are helping the various stakeholders create a standard of excellence for the cannabis industry. At CLU, we give you the resources to succeed. The best advice we can give you is to get educated and get a job now! The marijuana industry is projected to create more jobs than manufacturing by 2020. In the first year of legalization, over 10,000 jobs were created virtually overnight in the state of Colorado. Currently, there are over 30,000 employees in the industry in Colorado alone, and that isn’t even close to what we’ll see in larger markets such as California in the near future.