Although Elon Musk may not be a fan of marijuana, its legalization is assisting certain US people in finding employment and boosting their income. According to a recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, it is the first investigation into how legalizing Marijuana for recreational use may affect American workers’ employment and wages.
Although 68% of people favor legalization, the authors pointed out that there is a dispute over how it may affect the productivity and well-being of workers. The opening two quotes in the essay seek to contrast the two sides of the debate, perhaps in jest. In 2018, Elon Musk “I don’t typically smoke marijuana.
It doesn’t seem to be particularly productive, in my opinion.” In 2011, Seth Rogen said, “When I write, I use a lot of pot.” Four economics professors from Bentley University and San Diego State University conducted the investigation, which found “little support” for the claim that legalization has decreased “employment or income of working-age persons.”
Instead, for those over the age of 30, younger members of racial and ethnic minorities, and those employed in the agriculture sector, the authors discovered some evidence of “small improvements in employment or wages.”
The authors hypothesized that the growth of the cannabis industry is responsible for the improvement in the agricultural sector. Meanwhile, they claimed that some older employees and members of underrepresented groups may have switched from Marijuana to opiates, which can “cause more harm to employment,” and as a result, may have benefitted from improved outcomes.
These findings “are consistent with the development of a new licit marijuana sector and — notably for older people — a replacement away from tougher narcotics such as opiates,” they added. Over 158 million Americans reside in one of the 21 states and Washington, D.C. where marijuana is legal.
Nearly half a million people were employed by the state-licensed cannabis sector in the US as of 2022, and it is expected to continue growing over the next years. According to a forecast released last year by the cannabis statistics company BDSA, US cannabis sales are expected to increase from $25 billion in 2021 to $40 billion in 2026.
Some persons with prior marijuana convictions have been able to have their records cleared as a result of legalization, making it simpler for them to get employment. The aim is for half of the licenses to open cannabis dispensaries in New York, for instance, where they are still being distributed, to go to applicants who represent social equity, such as women, minorities, and communities affected by the drug war.
Despite the industry’s early stages, the NBER study reveals that thus far it has had some favorable effects on American employees. The authors noted that in the past, detractors said marijuana usage might result in impaired cognition, a lack of motivation, lethargy, worsened physical and mental health, the use of stronger substances, and inferior scholastic achievement.
However, proponents have asserted that in addition to producing jobs, the cannabis industry may also aid some individuals in reducing their use of opioids, alcohol consumption, and other drugs, as well as in managing their stress and enhancing their psychological well-being.
These factors may all contribute to better outcomes for workers. The article also makes notice the difficulty young Black and Hispanic males have had in finding employment because of prior convictions for marijuana possession, a problem that legalization has somewhat eased.
Despite the promising first findings from their research, the authors noted that given the recent nature of marijuana legalization, it will take some time to determine any long-term effects on labor market performance.