No matter where you stand on legalized marijuana, its impact on the economy is hard to deny. So far 25 American states have in some form or another legalized medical marijuana, even if in very limited ways, and seven other states having made the move to legalize recreational use. Applauded as successfully and responsibly establishing a previously untapped revenue source, the legal cannabis market in the U.S. has been estimated to have raked in $7.2 billion in 2016 alone and is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 17%.
Medical marijuana sales for 2016 tallied in at $4.7 billion and expected to skyrocket by 2020. Beyond the expected growth in the incredibly untapped medicinal market, sales from the even more untapped recreational market are projected to grow from the $2.6 billion in 2016 to $11.2 billion by 2020. These projections account only for the states that have already legalized marijuana, leaving out growing-in-likelihood possibility that more states may follow suit. Several programs have emerged both independently and at a few formal institutions that are intended to train hopeful marijuana workers, giving them a unique skill in a new industry. As it stands, it emerges as the fastest-growing industry in recent history.
As a source of employment, the industry has provided 150,000 jobs with workers reporting overall happiness with their new alternative job. They cite the appeal coming from an interest in pursuing non-traditional career trajectories. Some avoid the gig, fearing potential prosecution by the DEA, especially after the 2016 election and the anti-cannabis position the new administration is taking. As marijuana is still a schedule one substance, many fear that Trump’s White House will put pressures on the new industry. Pundits in the industry think that because of the incredible number of jobs produced by the marijuana market, Mr. Trump will steer clear. Having pushed his priority of making more American jobs, it would be hard to explain if he began to persecute for legal weed.
Having cemented itself as a job-creator and revenue-producer for the U.S. economy the cannabis market will create over ¼ million jobs by 2020. The legal marijuana industry is surpassing job growth from any other industries, including jobs from manufacturing, utilities or even government jobs.