Employment market thrives amid wave of legalisation

The cannabis employment market has entered a mature phase with thousands of American and Canadian citizens gaining work in the rapidly emerging industry.

According to Indeed Canada, there are currently more than 1,000 job listings within the cannabis industry, with roles ranging from trimmers to dispensary workers and quality inspectors.

The tax revenue from cannabis sales is often remarked upon as the main selling point for states and countries looking to follow the likes of California and Colorado, but what is often overlooked is the positive impact it can have by providing jobs to local communities.

Last year it was reported that the cannabis industry was the fastest growing job market throughout the US, with it being claimed that more than 211,000 had gained full time employment in the industry. Almost a third of those new positions were created in 2018 after a thriving year for both the recreational and medicinal sectors.

There are reportedly more legal cannabis industry workers than there are dental hygienists in the United States, along with having almost triple the amount of workers that are currently employed in the beer brewing industry.

It’s also worth noting that employees in the cannabis industry get paid 11 percent more on average than regular workers in the US, with the average yearly salary coming in at an impressive $58,511.

Considering federal income tax for a salary of $58,511 in the United States is 22 percent, it is calculated that $12,872 is contributed on average per worker in the industry.

Multiplying the average tax contribution by the estimated amount of full-time employees sees the yearly federal income tax revenue solely from workers in the industry top $2.7 billion in the United States alone.

Stumbling blocks

However, one of the major stumbling blocks for the industry in the US is that it is still considered illegal on a federal level, which is stifling growth in a number of states across the country.

The Bureau of Labor statistics is adamant about not including or reporting on the job gains within the cannabis industry due to the substance still being federally illegal, despite the fact that legal cannabis currently creates more jobs than any other industry in America.

“In 2019, America’s cannabis industry is one of the nation’s greatest economic success stories. That success deserves to be recognised and celebrated. This is an industry that welcomes strict regulation and fair taxation, asking only to have its outdated and unjust federal penalties removed”, the author summarises in the report.

The United Kingdom is in the same situation, with cannabis being considered as a class B drug while cannabis derivative CBD is legal and sold in high street stores. Interestingly, the UK job market still advertises for a plethora of cannabis related jobs, with CBD production work accompanying adverts for cannabis lawyers in central London.

Industry analysis concluded that the number of full-time workers in the cannabis industry would reach to 340,000 by 2022 in the United States, which would mark a 21 percent increase in annual growth.

The rapid growth of the cannabis market becomes clearer when compared to other industries that aim to make a large profit and need a sizeable workforce such as the entire US health-care industry, which is only expected to grow by two percent annually until 2022.

Employment opportunities

The legal cannabis industry appears to be creating a huge number of employment opportunities despite being limited to states who have gone against the federal stance on it in favour of growing their respective economies, in which they began utilising an industry that was once only capitalised on by the black market.

Another way to eliminate the black market from capitalising on the cannabis industry would be making it easier for cannabis businesses to register with banks and credit card companies – a topic that troubles many working in the industry as a result of the federal financial rules in America.

Banks are often discouraged from working with cannabis companies, meaning that legal, tax-paying businesses can’t open accounts which forces them to operate on a cash-only basis, subsequently causing workers to receive their weekly wages in cash, making them a high-risk target for robbery.

A recent study by the London School of Economics & Political Science found that in the week before and after Canada legalised cannabis use on October 17th 2018, the amount of cash in circulation fell ‘quite materially’ when compared to rises from previous years.

The theory behind why this happened is that customers who would typically purchase cannabis illegally with cash made the switch to purchasing from legal stores, in which they could use card transactions instead.

This shows that if cannabis businesses were not experiencing the problems they face with banking in the United States, the industry may experience higher migration from illicit purchases to legal government-licensed purchases, further fuelling the economies of differing states.

As the US tries to find its feet from a federal perspective, Canada has taken a gung-ho approach with cannabis and the thriving employment market that comes alongside it.

Consistently growing

Canada’s two largest cannabis companies – Aurora and Tilray – employ 1,600 and 750 people respectively, with it consistently growing month-by-month.

Of the tens of thousands of Canadians employed in the industry, 60 percent of them work in cultivation, harvesting, processing, manufacturing and administration, while 20 percent work in packaging, marketing, sales and shipping activities.

The diversity of jobs within the industry demonstrates that it has real potential to continue growing over the coming years, especially with additional states in the US and other European countries becoming more open to the legalisation of cannabis, which in turn will drive demands in early adopting nations such as Canada.

One of Canada’s main issues with expanding the cannabis industry is the lack of brick and mortar stores in some areas, even in high-population provinces, mainly due to the extortionately high costs of opening a store as well as obtaining a licence.

The market is still relatively new therefore over time, these types of issues will be resolved and once customer access becomes less limited with more stores being opened to accommodate the demand for legal cannabis, more jobs will be undoubtedly be created to fill the growing positions in the budding industry.