If the federal government isn’t ready for legal marijuana, the American people sure are.
The “federally illegal” marijuana industry is poised to employ half a million Americans by 2021. There will be more people selling, growing, modifying, and running experiments with marijuana than there will be telemarketers or even pharmacists.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, there are already between 165,000 and 230,000 Americans working in the cannabis industry. That’s more than the number of people who clean our teeth or bake our bread.
But unlike those other industries, marijuana is just getting started.
And it’s about to explode.
Check out this chart:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth or decline for every career on which it collects data. It predicts, for example, a 22% bump in massage therapists between 2014 and 2024, and a 3% decrease in telemarketers.
But none of the BLS projections come close to the growth we see in the marijuana industry.
Here’s why we predict that America will be home to half a million cannabis-related jobs by 2021…
In most industries, that wouldn’t necessarily correlate to a 180% increase in employment. For example, in the retail and grocery sectors, more sales often just mean longer lines. Or in restaurants, the part-time waitstaff may be called in to work more hours if sales are improving, but it’s less common to increase the number of employees altogether.
The marijuana industry, however, is different.
In fewer than four months, California will start distributing recreational marijuana licenses to dispensaries across the state to service the Golden State’s 39 million people.
But legal recreational dispensaries don’t yet exist.
When the floodgates open, jobs will need to be created to meet the demand. Lots of jobs.
Emerging weed companies will need people to manage the business, keep inventory, man the counter, engage the community, act as liaisons to other industries, and attract tourism.
As more states legalize, it will be the same story over and over again.
And that’s not even counting the states that have already legalized cannabis. Though states like Colorado and Oregon are “established” by current standards, marijuana is still a fledgling industry that has nowhere to grow but up. As marijuana works its way into mainstream American culture, the successful companies will grow, and so too will their employee numbers.
Suddenly, our 500,000 jobs estimate seems… low.