Analysts estimate that the legal marijuana market in the U.S. will create up to 300,000 new jobs in the coming years.
The number of marijuana-related jobs could jump up another 150,000 to 300,000 in the years to come, according to analyst estimates as reported by CNBC. The marijuana industry has already generated an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 jobs nationwide, according to the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook, meaning the cannabis job market has the potential of doubling or tripling in the coming years. It would make marijuana one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States.
The projections come as cannabis legalization expands throughout the U.S. Eight states passed marijuana measures in the November election, bringing the number of medical and recreational marijuana states to 28 and eight, respectively. Industry analysts firm ArcView group has estimated the industry, worth $5.4 billion in 2015, will jump to $6.7 billion in 2016 and then surpass $20 billion by the year 2020.
Job opportunities within the cannabis industry extend beyond the hands-on positions of growing, processing, budtending, testing, and product manufacturing. The industry also creates ancillary opportunities in the areas of consulting, legal personnel, construction, marketing, office administration, software and technology, courier and delivery services, and security. Workers can make anywhere from $13 an hour for an entry-level position to more than six-figures annually for key management roles.
In Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational marijuana, the industry generated 14,209 jobs in 2014, and then another 18,000 jobs in 2015, according to a report from the Marijuana Policy Group. The report found that 12,591 of the jobs created in 2015 were directly involved with marijuana businesses, and the remaining 5,414 positions were generated by ancillary services.
In response to the blossoming million-dollar industry, new cannabis-focused schools and traditional colleges and universities are offering training courses and certificate programs. One such school is the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis in Natick, Massachusetts, which opened in 2014 and offers a 12-course program that teaches students about cannabis law, servicing patients, and marketing.
“When you walk into a job interview, being able to say, ‘I have trained myself on this, I have gone through a school and have a certificate that says I am competent in the cannabis industry’ is definitely a leg up from somebody who doesn’t have any background or formal experience in cannabis,” Cara Crabb-Burnham, dean of faculty at NIC, told CNBC.
With support for marijuana legalization at an all-time high, most entrepreneurs and advocates are optimistic about the future growth of the cannabis industry. Others are more cautious, however, due to the uncertainty of the incoming Trump administration, CNBC reports. Although President-elect Donald Trump has voiced support for legalizing medicinal cannabis state by state, his stance on recreational legalization or interest in rescheduling cannabis has wavered several times. Plus, his pick for Attorney General, Jeff Session, a historically staunch opponent to cannabis, suggests that the marijuana industry may feel some pushback.
“On one hand you think it would take a lot of guts for him to come in and dismantle the industry that is creating up to 150,000 jobs right now and is generating billions of dollars,” Chris Walsh, editorial director of Marijuana Business Daily, told CNBC. “The other side of that is that it’s hard to really know what Donald Trump wants are is going to do. We just don’t know.”
You can read the entire CNBC report here.
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