The legal cannabis industry is one of the fastest and largest growing job segments of the US economy, but documented evidence to support this fact isn’t easy to uncover. Those supplying and supporting the industry are aware of the incredible impact of this segment, as do medical patients other customers. But because cannabis is legalized by states but not federally (yet), job numbers and salary ranges typically easy attainable from the Bureau of Labor Statisticsfor other industries, are not fully summarized for the cannabis industry. It is up to states and other resources to provide sufficient data to get a more detailed and realistic look at how cannabis is impacting the US economy. Thankfully, those resources are providing an exciting snapshot of this industry and the outlook is extremely positive.
State agencies, employer review sites and job sites such as Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, Monster, Cannabis magazines, and other industry journals provide glimpses into what is happening in the industry. Currently, the US cannabis market as a whole is estimated at $52 billion and expected to climb to $77 billion by 2022 according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. With the increased demand for legalized cannabis comes increased job growth. According to BDS Analytics, this growth has the potential to generate more than 467,000 full-time equivalent jobs by 2022.
Snowballing Affect of Cannabis
The cannabis industry continues to explode, providing more jobs, better wages, and greater opportunity for career growth. A recent reportof economic data put together by Leafly and Whitney Economics found that there are now more than 211,000 full-time jobs in the legal cannabis industry. Another report found that the cannabis industry provides five times more jobs than the coal industry and will surpass the US steel and iron mill employees (268,000), in just three short years. According to the Whitney report, there are now more legal cannabis industry workers than dental hygienists in the United States.
California alone is predicted to add more than 10,000 cannabis jobs in 2019, especially with the help of new legislation. Legislators are currently pushing through Assembly Bill 1356, which would increase the number of cannabis retail licenses by requiring some cities and counties that have banned commercial cannabis to open their doors to the industry. The bill would require local jurisdictions to issue one cannabis retail license for every six active general licenses for on-site liquor sales, including bars and restaurants, or one cannabis retail license for every 15,000 residents. It would also allow cities and counties to be exempt from the rule if voters pass by more than 50% an ordinance or resolution that bans commercial cannabis, which most consider highly unlikely.
The impact of the incredible growth of the cannabis industry is causing a rise in employment. Florida added the greatest number of full-time cannabis jobs in 2018, growing more than 700 percent and adding 9,000 jobs, while Pennsylvania registered the largest percentage increase, up more than 4,000 percent from January 2018 to January 2019. And these are well-paying jobs too. According to recent data by Glassdoor, the median paycheck in the cannabis industry is 11% higher than the US median salary of $52,863, and this salary is not even considered in the top tier for cannabis jobs.
For example, a Dispensary Store Manager, the person who oversees the day-to-day operation of a medical or adult-use cannabis retail location and who is responsible for hiring, training, and managing all dispensary staff, can make as much as $42,000 at the low end and $98,000 at the high end. A Compliance Manager, responsible for creating new policies and procedures toensure that staff has an understanding of all compliance requirements, can make from $45,000 up to $149,000.
The folks leading successful cannabis businesses are also making more than their counterparts in the “mainstream” corporate world. Studies found that executives in the cannabis field are making slightly more compared to the mean annual salaries of CEOs in agriculture and food manufacturing, as well as the national estimate for mainstream CEOs.
The best annual salaries found include CEO Kevin Murphy of Acreage Holdings, $375,000, Bruce Linton formerly of Canopy Growth, $229,000, and Terry Booth of Aurora Cannabis, $381,000. Of those surveyed, the average annual salary for Cannabis CEOs comes to $285,113, beating the average mean salaries of CEOs in Food Manufacturing, $207,710; Agricultural and Forestry, $198,770; and the national estimate of other segments for CEOs, $196,050. However, if we factor in Adam Bierman’s salary, CEO of MedMen Enterprises, of $1.5 million, it increases the Cannabis CEO average to $528,090.
Even if not yet CEO, cannabis employees can still get in on the ground floor of a dynamic industry with huge potential for career growth. The states with the most jobs are California, Massachusetts, Florida, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The top five jobsthat need to be filled are Brand Ambassador, Sales Associates, Store Managers, Wellness Coordinators, and Delivery Drivers. Some of the companies hiring in 2019 are Green Thumb Industries, Surterra Wellness, Cure Cannabis Solutions, and PAX Labs. These, as well as others, are experiencing phenomenal growth. Job opportunities abound and is only going to continue to increase as more states approve legalized use of cannabis, either for medical purposes or adult use.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
It’s been said that some people use statistics like a drunk uses a lamppost—more for support than illumination. Thankfully, the numbers reported by the 34 states where cannabis is now legal are reliable, as are the stats from job sites, analytical reports, and other credible sources. Even more telling is the $10 billion investors poured into the cannabis industry in 2018 alone, according to an Associated Press report.
Once cannabis is legalized on the federal level, more concise data will come out. For now, it is obvious that the cannabis industry is like the automobile industry in its infancy: exciting, engaging, profitable, and beneficial to all. The continued growth trend benefits all involved in the process as well as the surrounding community, and the state where the business is located. The cannabis industry isn’t just here to stay. It will soon be one of the major driving forces leading the US economy to greater prosperity.