The cannabis industry is putting people to work

A plant technician hard at work at Phat Panda in Spokane Valley. - YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
Young Kwak photo
A plant technician hard at work at Phat Panda in Spokane Valley.

Legal marijuana might be putting dealers out of work, but it's definitely not harming the job market in general.

Last week, Leafly released its fourth annual Cannabis Jobs Report. The report found that the legal marijuana market in the United States is responsible for 243,700 "full-time equivalent" jobs. The industry grew 15 percent over last year, adding 33,700 new jobs.

Some of this growth can be simply attributed to the fact that legal marijuana continues to spread from state to state. Michigan and Illinois opened legal markets since last year's report came out. That's not the only driver of growth, though. Our state was one of the original legal markets in the nation, and growth continues here in Washington, too.

The Evergreen State saw an 8 percent uptick over last year and is now home to 23,756 cannabis industry jobs.

Leafly puts together its report not just because it's a massive cannabis website, but also because nobody else does a good job of tracking the industry. The report points out that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't even try to count legal marijuana jobs — which makes some sense considering cannabis remains illegal in the eyes of the federal government.

Plus, there's still a stigma surrounding marijuana users. It extends to marijuana workers as well. By not treating the marijuana industry like every other legal industry in America, that stigma will persist. People have to consider how a work history including a marijuana job will impact their career opportunities going forward. It's a shame because the marijuana industry is as impactful and broad as any in America.

A quick look at popular job-hunting website shows just how far the industry reaches. It's not just growers and budtenders, after all.

The city of Portland is currently searching for a Cannabis Program Supervisor. It's a government job with a salary projected by Indeed to reach up into six figures. Dharma Pharmaceuticals out of Virginia is looking for an applicant with a master's degree to fill a lead scientist opening. Whoever fills the position will literally be a scientist with a six-year college education. This is the modern marijuana industry.

Of course, there are still the growers and the budtenders. A lot of them. According to Leafly, there are twice as many cannabis workers in Illinois than meat packers. It's not exactly The Jungle anymore. ♦

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