The Weed Industry Has the American Workforce Blazing

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f you’ve stalled out in your current line of work, new data on the burgeoning American marijuana industry suggests that creating or selling weed products might be a lucrative new field for you. In fact, legal weed workers already outnumber dental hygienists, bakers, and massage therapists in North America.

Data compiled in the Marijuana Business Factbook, which analyzes the business opportunities in cannabis in Canada and the United States, proves just how powerful the weed industry has become since 2009. In 2016, four states legalized recreational marijuana and four more approved certain measures allowing marijuana to be sold medicinally. Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia are either working on passing legislation or have passed legislation to loosen the legal grip on marijuana in some form.

The Factbook analyzes California’s economy as it pertains to legalized marijuana in great detail, and, based on the existing data, makes the prediction that the state will eventually bring in $4.5 billion and $5 billion in annual retail sales — that’s more than the entire nation made on marijuana in 2016.

marijuana legal which states map
Marijuana legalization status as of 2017

On the negative side of things, the Factbook points out that most marijuana businesses are becoming apprehensive of what federal regulations will do to their sales. Things are getting especially hairy for growers who can’t keep up with their local dispensaries’ demand for more product. As the Factbook reads, “Some cultivators that shelled out for expensive indoor facilities are finding that costs of production now exceed the market price per pound of cannabis.” The wonky relationship between distributors and growers has lengthened the amount of time an average marijuana company needs to start making a profit; in early 2016, almost 70 percent of the surveyed companies selling or distributing weed-related products told researchers they had made it “into the black” in under a year. That same answer was only given by 55 percent of companies in the latest report, which means marijuana is still a viable line of work, though it’s likely to get harder and harder to join the workforce as product availability expands.

The bottom line for many, though, is that the marijuana industry has created somewhere between 165,000 and 230,000 full- and part-time jobs since 2009. As Entrepeneur puts it, those jobs include “working at cannabis retail stores, growing facilities, marijuana-infused product companies, testing labs and ancillary businesses such as transportation and security.” If you’re looking for a professional change-up, you may want to find a way into professional weed distribution, but your window of opportunity is closing.

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