When you’re in the market for a new job, it helps to pay attention to in-demand fields — that’s where you’ll see big growth, in both openings and salaries. One to watch: the cannabis industry, where recruiters say some of the open positions can carry salaries of up to $250,000.
Legalization of recreational cannabis use and expansion of medical use is slowly, state-by-state, opening a former black market to tens of millions of consumers, and providing states with valuable new streams of tax revenue. The result is job creation on a substantial scale, according to a report from cannabis website Leafly.
The report, a joint effort between Leafly and management consulting firm Whitney Economics, estimates that there are currently some 211,000 full-time workers in the legal U.S. cannabis industry—and more than 64,000 of those jobs were created in 2018.
“The legal cannabis industry is now the fastest job creator in America,” says Bruce Barcott, Leafly’s deputy editor and author of the report.
For perspective, the number of people directly employed in the industry now outnumbers those working in coal mining (52,000) and textile manufacturing (112,000), according to the report.
Plus, there are nearly 300,000 jobs that operate on the cannabis industry’s periphery, Barcott says — people either working with cannabis companies, or in support roles such as lawyers or accountants. Jobs being created in the sector can be lucrative. Cannabis companies are hiring for roles that traditionally pay high salaries, such as compliance officers, sales specialists, marketers, and chemists, says Danielle Schumacher, co-founder and CEO of THC Staffing Group, a recruiting firm focused on the marijuana industry.
“I’ve seen pay range from minimum wage to [more than] $250,000,” Schumacher says. But she warns that those jobs can come with long hours and other stressors. “It is not a stable industry,” she says. “Regulations and ownership can change on short notice.”
Support for marijuana legalization is at an all-time high, with two-thirds of Americans now supporting it, according to an October 2018 Gallup poll.
The economic argument for doing so, concerning jobs, investment opportunities, and potential tax revenues, appears to be striking a chord with some lawmakers, too. Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says that job growth in the industry is becoming hard to ignore. During the last session of Congress, legislators introduced 63 different bills related to cannabis, he says. That’s more in one session than in every other previous session combined — and most of those efforts were bipartisan.
“We are in a dramatic policy shift when it comes to cannabis,” he says. “We have now moved from the ‘if’ to ‘when’ stage.”