Chart: Cannabis employment in the U.S. increases 34 percent in 2019

Until the plant is legalized at the federal level and the industry is tracked, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics plonks cannabis industry workers into a number of unspecified categories

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Chart: Cannabis employment in the U.S. increases 34 percent in 2019

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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The cannabis industry is creating an ever-growing list of jobs and if the findings published in the most recent edition of the 2019 Marijuana Business Factbook are anything to go by, there could be more cannabis-related roles available in the United States by the end of the year than military and flight attendant jobs. 

Based on estimates and data comparison from 2018, full-time positions in the legal weed industry are on-track to swell 34 percent this year. The number of people employed by the industry last year was somewhere between 130,000 and 160,000; a figure that analysts believe will top 175,000-215,000 this year.

According to statistics published in the Factbook, between 385,000 and 475,000 people will be employed full-time in the cannabis industry by the year 2023. 

A number of factors are playing a role in the rise of cannabis jobs, such as the bout of scientific research that is spilling out of laboratories, universities and research institutions around the world. The rapid development of the legal cannabis market is also contributing to a surge of cannabis industry jobs in the U.S.

Currently, medical cannabis has been legalized in 33 states and an additional 11 for recreational purposes. If the cannabis plant is legalized at the federal level, fresh research initiatives will be introduced and more of the plant’s therapeutic effects are likely to be discovered

As the market continues to flourish, supply must be amplified to accommodate the growing consumer demand for regulated cannabis. In an attempt to gain a competitive edge against other players in the industry, companies are seeking out highly qualified individuals who are capable of performing the day-to-day duties required to run cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and/or retail businesses efficiently.

A wide variety of jobs are sprouting out of the legal weed industry, including lab technicians, marketers, growers, trimmers and budtenders. This year’s cannabis employment figures are expected to surpass web development roles. When compared with the number of legislator roles that have been filled in the U.S., analysts say that there will be 3.5 times more cannabis-related roles than there are legislators.

Marijuana Business Factbook also spotlights the economic impacts of cannabis legalization

In 2019, the cannabis industry in the U.S. catapulted in value from $39.2 billion to $48 billion. This is based on cannabis sales data and it indicates a 35 percent increase since last year, when the industry traded between $8.6 billion and $10.8 billion worth of pot products.

On a global scale, cannabis sales topped $12.2 billion last year. Analysts believe that the U.S. industry looks set to pull in $30 billion within the next five years. What’s more, since cannabis consumers are forking out just as much for weed in 2018 as they did for Taco Bell, it’s clear that there’s a colossal market to be tapped if cannabis is legalized at the governmental level.

Cannabis’ Schedule I classification puts industry workers in an unspecified category

In spite of the rapid influx of jobs blossoming from the cannabis industry, individuals who operate in this line of work are not included in the government’s employment data records. What this means is that many of the cannabis industry’s employees are left in the dark about how to climb the cannabis career ladder and earn the best wage. 

Until the plant is legalized at the federal level and the industry is tracked, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics plonks cannabis industry workers into a number of unspecified categories, such as “agriculture,” “manufacturing” and “retail sales.” On the plus side, things could soon change, with industry experts saying that federal legalization may happen by 2020.