Chart of the Week: 100,000+ Workers Employed By Marijuana Companies

cannabis employment

By Eli McVey

The U.S. marijuana industry has quickly become a major job generator, with cannabis-related companies now employing an estimated 100,000 to 150,000 workers.

The estimates – released in the 2016 Marijuana Business Factbook – include employment at retailers, wholesale grows, infused products/concentrates companies, testing labs and ancillary firms focused primarily on marijuana.

It’s an impressive feat for an industry that has, for the most part, only been operating legitimately since 2009, and it underscores the rapid growth in the both the number and size of companies in the sector.

The employment figures include both part-time and full-time positions. They were calculated using the estimated number of marijuana businesses in the country and the average number of workers companies in each segment employ, gathered through Marijuana Business Daily’s annual survey of cannabis industry professionals.

To put these numbers in perspective, the marijuana industry now employs approximately the same number of people as there are flight attendants in the country – or web developers, database administrators and librarians.

The plant-touching side of the industry is particularly large, employing 58,000-88,000 workers. But ancillary companies that don’t handle the plant, such as cultivation lighting businesses, vaporizer manufacturers and professional services firms, also employ tens of thousands of workers.

The potential for further job growth is high, as the industry is still very much in its infancy. In 2016 alone, ballot measures in half-a-dozen states are in place to legalize either medical or recreational marijuana this fall, with several more states still fighting to get on this year’s ballot.

If even a handful of these measures pass, industry job growth will soar.

California – one of the states that will be voting to legalize recreational marijuana this year – is a particularly big prize. Already the most populous state in the country, the impact recreational legalization could have on business and employment opportunities is tremendous.

The industry is also seeing sizable job growth in some mature cannabis states, and new markets such as Maryland, Ohio and Pennsylvania will come online soon, further fueling employment.

Eli McVey can be reached at [email protected]

3 comments on “Chart of the Week: 100,000+ Workers Employed By Marijuana Companies
  1. Matt on

    While these numbers are spectacular to look at, I’d be interested to see what’s before the tailpipe. What are the salaries like? What type of people are being employed? What counts as an ancillary firm (how close do you need to get / at what point does a huge company dipping their toes count?) Honestly based on the last question it could be even more people are employed “in the marijuana industry” than above if you count people who are assigned by their companies to do work on marijuana business/law.

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  2. Lawrence D. Goodwin on

    Thanks for the update, Eli McVey and Marijuana Business Daily. I know the subject matter here is supposed to focus on the medicinal and recreational economies supplied by seedless female flowers of cannabis plants (aka “marihuana” in federal/state laws), but the real economic value in terms of job creation must equally consider millions of jobs supplied by cannabis hemp stalks and seeds (they offer us a whole new era of eco-conscious, domestic manufacturing as well as highly nutritious food production). I would also challenge the claim that our country’s cannabis “industry” is in its “infancy.” For the first 160 years of American history, there was no federal anti-“marihuana” law tyrannizing the growers of cannabis plants. Seedless female flowers of cannabis were even tended for a long period specifically for the production of medicinal extracts (primarily oils and tinctures) for prescription by America’s licensed doctors. In 1938, not long after the invention of a decorticating machine to save labor costs, Popular Mechanics magazine called cannabis hemp a “New Billion Dollar Crop.” The recreational cannabis industry (for adults) would’ve most likely developed right alongside alcohol and tobacco commerce—today growing any type of cannabis plant should be properly regulated by the same federal agency, called the Bureau of Alcohol, Cannabis, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Imagine if such true cannabis freedom in America—and the immeasurable prosperity that naturally results from it—had never been stolen from the people. All this time, legions of totally unaccountable bureaucrats and arrogant federal, state and local officials have been thinking they possess some inherent right to dominate female cannabis flowers. I think otherwise, and little stories like the one above provide only a fleeting glimpse why.

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