Article by Jeremy Berke, Business Insider
The legal cannabis industry is posting some eye-popping job-growth numbers.
The total number of job postings for the cannabis industry increased by 445% in 2017, as a host of states — including Nevada and Massachusetts— legalized the plant for adult consumption. That’s up from just 18% growth in 2016, according to a recent study from ZipRecruiter, an online job platform.
Nine states and Washington D.C. have legalized cannabis, though it’s considered an illegal, Schedule I drug at the federal level.
Because of that trend, there are now more cannabis workers than dental hygienists in the US, according to Marijuana Business Daily, a financial-news publication focusing on the cannabis industry. The higher end of their estimate range suggests there were 230,000 people employed in the US legal cannabis industry in 2017, whereas there were 201,000 dental hygienists, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Job growth in the cannabis industry is now outpacing some of the fastest-growing fields in the US, including tech and healthcare. Job postings in the healthcare industry grew 70% in 2017 while tech — defined as jobs in the software and IT space — rose by 254%, according to ZipRecruiter’s data.
The pace of cannabis-industry job growth increased throughout 2017 as businesses went on a hiring spree to gear up for the start of legal sales in California, according to ZipRecruiter’s chief economist, Cathy Barrera. (Marijuana became legal in that state on January 1.)
Cannabis jobs are mostly clustered in the industry’s epicenters — Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Colorado, according to ZipRecruiter — as well as a few cities in Florida. Florida legalized medical cannabis in 2016.
Now that marijuana is legal in California — by far the most populous state to legalize the drug — the report predicts the state will pull in over $5.1 billion in cannabis sales in 2018. For comparison, Californiansbought $5 billion worth of beer in 2017, according to industry research group IBIS World.
Total spending on legal cannabis is expected to skyrocket to over $21 billion by 2021 for all US consumers, the BDS report says. Factoring in “indirect effects” of legal cannabis revenue, such as transactions between cannabis companies and businesses in other industries (like shipping, packaging, payroll processing, etc.), BDS Analytics expects legalized cannabis to inject close to $40 billion into the US economy by 2021, and add up to 413,988 jobs.