Despite its tenuous legality in many states and federal classification as a Schedule I substance, cannabis jobs are taking off in the U.S., according to Marijuana Business Daily’s new Marijuana Business Factbook.
The industry’s employee growth is so rapid that by the end of the year, the number of cannabis workers may increase by a massive 50 per cent – outnumbering the likes of computer programmers, journalists, public school librarians, and steel workers.
The publication estimates that there were approximately 165,000-210,000 cannabis workers in 2019, and projects an increase to 240,000-295,000 workers by the end of 2020.
In the longer term, approximately half a million workers (between 470,000 to 575,000) are projected to be active in the cannabis sector by 2024.
“Cannabis employees” were classified as those “directly working in the sector,” such as budtenders and growers – but also those working in ancillary roles, such as PR, lawyers, and consultants. Most jobs, however, were in the retail sector – which the Factbook attributes to state cannabis laws that generally prohibit the sale of cannabis alongside other products, creating a need for staff in the many standalone dispensaries popping up across the country.
Despite many industries suffering COVID-19 -related financial blows that led to massive furloughs and layoffs, the cannabis industry has experienced a surge in pot sales throughout the pandemic that has further fuelled job growth in the weed trade, although there are no guarantees that the increase will be sustained throughout the next few years.