Cannabis, Marijuana, Weed, Pot? Just Call It a Job Machine
The New York Times, Conor Dougherty
April 25, 2019
While cannabis may still be illegal on the federal level, 33 states now allow its sale for medical purposes at a minimum. Ten of those states, including California, have legalized recreational use. And as new markets open and capital continues to flood in, the cannabis industry has become, by some measures, one of the country’s fastest-growing job sectors.
A few years ago, navigating the marijuana industry felt like a journey to the fringes of legitimacy. Now cannabis dispensaries occupy brightly lit spaces on prime retail strips, with $80 pot lotions and $20 bars of pot soap. Six months ago, Canada became the first major world economy to legalize recreational marijuana use, and several dozen cannabis stocks — many for companies that are American in all but name but unable to list in the United States — now trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange. For investors, it’s a two-pronged thesis. The first is that many people like recreational use. The second is that as cannabis becomes more widely used, it is increasingly a therapeutic remedy that people substitute for pain pills, sleep aids and other pharmaceuticals.
ZipRecruiter’s data suggests that cannabis-related jobs nationwide currently stands at 200,000 to 300,000. While many of those jobs are on the lower end of the pay scale (consisting of rote agricultural work), there has also been a expansion in the demand for better-paid positions like chemists, software engineers, and nurses who consult with patients about using cannabis for anxiety and other medical conditions.
Meanwhile, the pioneers who brought the industry out of the shadows are being joined by professional managers and executives — “talent,” in corporate speak — who have had careers in other industries. For upper-level managers and executives, companies say they prefer candidates with a background in highly regulated industries like alcohol or pharmaceuticals.