The Green Market Report that was recently released forecasts that legalization of marijuana is going to create 160,000 new jobs for residents of the United States. These new employment opportunities will be opened in government institutions, manufacturing industries, and vending outfits (e.g. marijuana dispensaries). As the awareness for weed legalization keeps growing and spreading across the US, high profile scientists, tech capitalists, horticulturalists, chemists, and retailers are increasingly showing interest in marijuana. And they are consistently looking for ways to reconcile the various challenges of the relatively new industry. Asm. Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced AB 2069 in the first week of February 2018. The bill was intended to protect the employment rights of cannabis patients in California. It would specifically prohibit employers from discriminating against staff because they are cannabis patients, or because they read positive to drug test for cannabis use. California will not, however, only be protecting the rights of cannabis users, its marijuana will create the largest amount of jobs in the entire industry.
Before the legalization of weed in Colorado in 2012, the state suffered from a massive 8% unemployment rate. By the end of 2017, Colorado’s unemployment has drastically reduced to 2.9 percent. California has unemployment problems too and its current budget deficit is $1.6 billion. California’s marijuana industry is relatively new, but a potentially large one which needs to accommodate more marijuana cultivators, processors, retailers, and other adjoining services like marketing, security, and legal consultancy.
According to a report by an online employment platform, “when it comes to growth in the industry, we see the most significant growth in states that recently loosened their marijuana laws.” The ICF projects that the state will earn up to $3 billion a year in tax receipts from sales of marijuana. This will suffice in clearing the debt. With statistics showing San Francisco and Los Angeles counties topping the list of cannabis relate job postings, California will potentially be the largest employer of labor in the marijuana industry.
In a job fair organized by Michael Ray of Bloom Farms in March 2017, modest job seekers attended with resumes to connect with employers in the cannabis business. Business owners who participated in this exchange revealed that their companies are growing explosively, and they would like to recruit, mostly, for sales and customer service roles. While experience with horticultural lighting fixtures may be an advantage, it wasn’t a prerequisite.
Ray asserted that the job fair was not intended as a revenue generator, but more like giving back to the community. He believed that just like any other industry, the cannabis industry requires an organized system that creates a platform for qualified job seekers and top level brands to meet. He hoped that the fair would give his company the chance of getting to recruit the best candidates first. The job fair he organized in Oakland County attracted more than 2,000 job seekers. It was unprecedented.
In 2017, a cannabis website estimated that the marijuana industry employed about 122,000 people. Over one-third of the jobs are based in California. It is thus, safe to project that the full legalization of the drug in California will see the numbers grow exponentially.
Meanwhile, some cities in California are working consistently towards the proliferation of cannabis markets. The City of Oakland sponsored a bill to ease restrictions on special marijuana events. The bill AB 2020 will allow bigger flexibility for cities that seek to host cannabis related special events. This means that the distribution and consumption of cannabis at temporary special events could become legal soon. “It allows local governments to apply for special events permits at places other than county fairgrounds, which we support. We would like to see further allowances for permitting on-site consumption by non-licensees such as hotels, cafes, theaters and other venues,” said Cal NORML director, Dale Gieringer.
Getting employed in the weed industry has an advantage that other sectors don’t. It will accommodate people who don’t fit into the traditional corporate setting, e.g. senior people, people with multiple body art, or people with marijuana-related records.
ICF International published a white paper last year stating their conviction that the jobs created would result in a labor income between the ranges of $3.57 billion to $4.52 billion. The economic effect of all the new salaries is felt all through the local economies. Secondary jobs will also emanate. Construction jobs to build cultivation facilities and create new marijuana dispensaries that meet new local laws will be created. Security services will be needed in logistics and distribution. Online marijuana customer service personnel will be employed, and legal professionals will always have their roles to play. The California marijuana industry will encourage fresh entrepreneurs already willing to invest; it will invigorate the redundant parts of the state, and also significantly improve the state’s financial health.